Resting at the foot of the Boland Mountains, the Cape Winelands is renowned for producing some of the world’s finest wines. The breathtakingly beautiful landscape boasts incredible mountain scenery and numerous luxury wine farms laden with vineyards stretching across lush fertile valleys.
The Winelands of the Western Cape are mainly in the Boland (meaning 'upland') region. The Winelands are world famous for producing some of the best wines in the world. The magnificent mountain ranges of Franschhoek and Stellenbosch provide the ideal microclimates to grow the grapes that produce the myriad of wine varietals. Wine tasting is one of the best ways to spend a day in and around Cape Town and the Winelands. Combine the delicious wines with some of the most beautiful landscapes on earth, century old architecture, and awe-inspiring food, and it’s no surprise that it’s one of Cape Town’s most beloved activities for visitors and locals alike.
The Winelands FAQs
How far are the Winelands from Cape Town?
Cape Town itself has a ‘Winelands’ within it, in an area called Constantia. This is literally on the other side of Table Mountain from the well-known V&A Waterfront and is the oldest wine region in the Cape.
If you want to visit the Winelands that include Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl then it can be up to an hour or an hour and a half away from down-town Cape Town. The furthest property in the Winelands that we love to bits is called Grand Dedale which is in Wellington, nearly 1.45 hours away from town but well worth the journey as they have some of the best scenery in the Cape.
What makes Franschhoek so special?
A tiny strip of boutique shops and remarkable restaurants, Franschhoek has a huge amount of charm in a small space which means you can truly immerse yourself in the town without feeling overwhelmed.
The wine estates that fall within a short drive of the Franschhoek strip are well known around the world, and the views from the hills overlooking the town can be truly breath-taking. The small-town feeling you get here is so much more than you are likely to get in the university town of Stellenbosch which is why we love it so!
What are the top 5 vineyards in the Winelands?
This is a really tough question. What are you interested in? Whites? Reds? Rosé? Bubbles? Dessert wine? Each estate has its own specialisation, and some are so small that they don’t even export outside of their immediate area. That said, there are also some incredibly special internationally recognised brands like Jordan wines, and some vineyards which quite literally have to cater to busloads of tourists. We tend to stay away from those as we believe the more personal touch is what gives you a true flavour of this part of the country.
Taking time to get to know your sommelier and give them a chance to cater to your tastes is what we really love, so let us know and we can help you plan a tour that suits you down to the vine.
What is the best time of the year to visit the Winelands?
The Winelands is great all year round. Even when it’s chilly outside and perhaps a little bit rainy, many of the old Cape Dutch buildings have charming and romantic fireplaces where you can snuggle up and enjoy a personalised wine, gin or whiskey tasting – perhaps paired with cheese or chocolate to help it go down!
The scenery is also remarkable at all times of the year as the vines change colour depending on when you visit. Autumn (March and April) brings some gorgeous reds and oranges on the vines, while Spring brings beautiful flowers along the mountainsides.
What makes the South African Winelands so special?
Not only is this region filled with history and stunning Cape Dutch architecture, but there are many wonderful activities on offer here including horse riding, biking and you could even jump aboard a wine-tram!
The unique landscape here in the Winelands, and the proximity to the ocean allow some marvellous grapes to grow. This region is therefore very popular for Chenin blanc (Steen), Riesling (until recently known locally as Weisser Riesling), Crouchen (known as Cape Riesling), Palomino (the grape of the Spanish wine Sherry known locally as "White French"), Trebbiano (Ugni Blanc), Sémillon (Groendruif) and Muscat of Alexandria (Hanepoot). Another delicious and unique bottle you can enjoy here is the Cap Classique. This is a premium category of South African sparkling wine which is produced by the traditional method (the same way as Champagne).
What is the ideal number of days to spend in the Winelands?
We would say that the minimum number of days to spend here is two, i.e. if you stay two nights you will get two half days and one full day to explore the area. This is purely to give you a flavour and we would then organise a full day private tour for you to experience the highlights of the region with a qualified guide.
Otherwise, if you’re up for a more relaxed visit, three or four nights will give you the chance to visit a variety of estates, see a lot of beautiful architecture and perhaps enjoy a bike ride or a horse ride through the area to really get a feel for it.
Franschhoek’s main street also has some delicious and note-worthy restaurants to try so let us know if you fancy a special treat and we would with pleasure help you book up!
Idyllically situated in the Cape Winelands, this peaceful country retreat is one of the oldest towns in South Africa. The once sleepy little village was named Franschhoek, meaning 'French Corner' as it was founded by French Huguenots. The fertile valley of Franschhoek boasts a rich heritage showcased at the fascinating Huguenot Memorial Museum and the Cape Dutch architecture in much of the village remains remarkably well preserved. The town’s proximity to Cape Town allows for pleasant day trips during which visitors can explore the area’s many world-class wine estates and impressive range of excellent restaurants or simply browse the quaint, upmarket boutiques strewn along the town’s lovely tree-lined avenues.
Paarl is the third oldest settlement in South Africa, and is steeped in history and culture. But there’s far more to it than that! While the town is close enough for a day adventure – just an hour’s drive from Cape Town you will want to spend more time in this region. It borders Stellenbosch and Franshchoek and has world-class golf courses, forms part of the asteemed wine route and best of all is home to Babylonstoren. This is a must!
Stellenbosch, only a few minutes from Cape Town is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the Western Cape. This is the beginning of the Western Cape Wine Route, representing more than 200 wine and grape producers. The second oldest town in South Africa, Stellenbosch is known for its natural beauty and oak-lined avenues, Cape Dutch architecture, history and culture. Surrounded by wine farms, the town is abuzz with hotels, wine shops, cafés, restaurants, boutiques, art galleries and museums.