With over three centuries of winemaking history, South Africa is one of the key wine-producing countries in the southern hemisphere. Many of its wineries are scattered around the spectacular landscape of the Western Cape, making Cape Town the perfect gateway to explore Cape Town wineries.
Although South African wine fell out of favour during the twentieth century, the country’s wine industry has bounced back and is now the ninth largest wine producer in the world. The Cape winelands are an alluring destination for wine lovers with towering mountains, lush countryside, shimmering rivers and beautiful coastline, and a mix of both traditional and modern wineries.
Many of the best-known Cape Town wineries are found in historic wine-growing regions Stellenbosch and Constantia. However, many other regions are also making a name for themselves with a blend of tradition and innovative winemaking, crafting wines that many consider as bridging the gap between the Old and New World.
Grapes produced from these vines yield wines with exceptional flavour. Although Sauvignon Blanc was at the forefront of viticultural advances in the area, other varieties, such as bush-trained Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chenin Blanc are planted extensively.
Take a trip down the narrow mountainous peninsula of Cape Point south of Cape Town. Wineries here are producing attractive, complex, cool-climate Sauvignon Blanc here on this meeting point of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, where the Cold Benguela Current of the Atlantic collides with the warmer Algulhas Current of the Indian Ocean. The cool breezes from the Atlantic, complemented by warmer breezes from False Bay provide the perfect growing conditions for elegant, concentrated wines from Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Semillon, often with a streak of refreshing minerality. Some of the vineyards are just a kilometre from the sea, so make sure you also call in at one of the many secluded coves as well as enjoying the unique flora of the peninsula.
Darling, a charming small town an hour’s drive away from Cape Town, offers something unique in the wine world - bush-trained Sauvignon Blanc. Vines are often bush-trained in hot South Africa to provide greater resistance to drought, but nowhere else in the world is Sauvignon Blanc trained in this way. Grapes produced from these vines yield wines with exceptional flavour. Although Sauvignon Blanc was at the forefront of viticultural advances in the area, other varieties, such as bush-trained Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chenin Blanc are planted extensively. Cool-climate Shiraz is also a flagship variety in the area.
Swartland, Dutch for ‘black land’ gains its name from the native, now endangered renosterbos (rhinoceros bush), which turns black after rain, transforming the landscape into a sea of black at certain times of year. This hot, dry region north of the Paardeberg mountains was traditionally a wheat-producing region and source of robust, full-bodied reds and high-quality fortified wines. However, the region is becoming increasingly trendy with a group of independent producers joining forces to produce wines that express a true sense of place. Some exciting, award-winning wines are now emerging and the region now specialises in making rich, fruit-driven wines from Shiraz, Pinotage and Chenin Blanc.
Tulburgh is surrounded on three sides by mountains, creating a protective horseshoe which traps cold air like a bubble underneath the warming air above. This secluded valley is known for its Shiraz, which is often made into southern Rhône blends, and its acclaimed Cap Classique sparkling wine. The town, which boasts 32 national monuments on one street is certainly worth a visit. Home to just thirteen wineries, where tradition works hand-in-hand with innovation, they are showing the potential of this area, only now starting to be realised.
Getting off the beaten track and discovering unexplored Cape Town wineries is easy with the help of our local experts at Wine Paths.