Anyone who’s a little familiar in the world of wines knows: South Africa is wine heaven! Not only do they make the finest wines for you to buy in restaurants and shops, you can also visit hundreds of wine estates. With so much choice, you want to know which wineries offer something special. Therefore, I’ve dived in the world of Cape wines for five weeks. Looking for wineries that are so special, that they are worth flying to South Africa for!
Wines of South Africa
It’s centuries old: the South African wine culture. On the 2nd of Februari 1659 the Dutch Jan van Riebeeck -first governor of the Cape- wrote in his diary: “Today, praise the Lord, for the first time wine is made from Cape vines.” His words seem to lay the base of a deep passion in this country for wine and as a wine-lover… worshiper that is … this is my holy ground.
Wine tasting culture
The wine industry in this area is very much built on tastings. It is a social gathering where you can find entire families (yes, kids can join. Many wineries offer non-alcoholic grape juices for the little ones:) and it is not just about wine, you can enjoy nature, play games and eat … A lot. Since a good wine tasting goes hand in hand with good wine sales, tastings barely cost anything (between 2 and 8 euros for an entire tasting, the more expensive include cheese, cupcakes or chocolate). Highly recommended for a nice day of South African fun!
The 8 Best Wineries of South Africa
So, are you curious where you should go if you want to do a tasting in The Cape? These wineries are all highly recommended:
# Delheim (Stellenbosch)
This place has something magical. It’s hidden in the lush countryside, surrounded with colorful flowers. Outside musicians are playing African music, there are several gardens where you can have a picnic, the restaurant is overlooking a valley with views of Table Mountain and their wine tastings are something special too! Wines combined with cupcakes (which are so delicious that you are considering a second round!) or pancakes (in winter). The owner even stopped by to tell about this family business in such a passionate way that I could listen to him for hours. I flew back to Amsterdam with a suitcase full of their divine dessert wines. I heart heart heart Delheim. Really recommended!
Costs cupcake tasting (5 wines): 75 R —> EUR 5.75
# Eagles Nest (Constantia)
This is a boutique winery. Located in the beautiful nature of Constantia, with a lovely garden and award winning wines. Winemaker Stuart Botha drove us all the way to the top, to give us a real impression of this wonderful place. His way of making wine definitely stands out from the other stories I was able to collect. Stuart uses the knowledge of science (such as how big the surface of a grape must be for the best flavor) to come to his great wines. An enthusiastic young man with a nose for wine, in a place that reminds you of the ‘Garden of Eden’. It is pure, without mass tourism with beautiful quality. Hopefully this will remain this way for a very long time!
Costs winetasting: 50 R —> 3.80 euros
# Fairview (Stellenbosch)
At Fairview you can do both wine and cheese tastings. This is done in the large open area where you can walk around and taste while standing. If you really want to treat yourself (and you do!), you book the Master Tasting. Get 8 matching wines with cheeses. Every wine is accompanied by an explanation. I left Fairview a bit more ‘wine savvy’ than I arrived. This is a popular winery so the Master Tasting was ideal: we could see the crowds but had our own private, luxurious setting.
Costs Master Tasting (8 wines + cheeses): 60 R —> 4.50 euros
# Groot Constantia (Constantia)
This is one of the oldest wineries in the country and also one of the biggest. Beautiful old buildings, a fantastic location with breathtaking views, mini museums that show you how it used be back in the days, and the wines … there is a reason they have won so many awards. Their dessert wine was Napoleons favorite, and I understand why:) You don’t just come here to taste wines. You get to experience the culture, learn about wines and then treat yourself to an amazing lunch or dinner at Jonkershuis. The owners of this restaurant love food and cooking so much, and you can absolutely taste that. It’s so good that we went back three times!
Costs tasting (5 wines): 40 R —> 3 euros
# La Vierge (Hermanus)
This wine route is also called ‘Heaven and Earth’ and is recommended by almost everyone I interviewed about the best wine regions of the Cape. La Vierge is on top of a hill and has stunning views. Both inside and on the roof terrace you can do wine tastings and those who love a game can play ‘Jeux des Boules’ on the track. The entire wine collection is created around ‘wines of desire’, something you see in the name of each bottle. And desirable they are … the Shiraz was so deliciously full bodied that there are now two bottles in Amsterdam. Oh, and if you are there… go to the bathroom: best view ever :))).
Costs tasting (8 wines): 30 R —> 2.20 euros
# Spice Route (Stellenbosch)
Spice Route is the sister of Fairview. Together they can easily fill your day. Here you can taste all sorts of things: chocolate, the famous African Biltong (dried meat), coffee, ice cream, it’s all there. And if you are curious about how glass is blown? They do it here.
Costs chocolate tasting: 25R —> 1.90 euros
# Spier (Stellenbosch)
Spier is a huge estate. The winery is located in a private nature reserve where you can hike, picnic, or you can climb in trees. An ideal place if you have kids. From the terrace you can directly enjoy delicious food and fine wine while the kids go crazy. Want to stay one night, no problem! A hotel, several restaurants, a shop to buy your picnic gear and even an Eagle rehabilitation project belong to the estate.
Costs tasting: 35 R —> 2.65 euros (the tasting kids is 35 R)
# Warwick Wine (Stellenbosch)
What a heartwarming place this is! Here you have a Big Five Wine Safari where the characteristics of the grape varieties are compared with the animals from the Big Five. An amazing experience and super educational. Their philosophy is perfect: You taste (wine), you eat (picnic), you sleep (next to your picnic basket:). And so it happened. After a fantastic picnic with fresh local products, aromatic herbs, divine cheesecake and a bottle of their magic, we slept wonderfully in the Zzzzzzzzun. We are a match made in heaven :)
Cost tasting (5 wines): 25 R —> 1.90 euros
At which winery do you already picture yourself?