1. Durbanville Wine Valley
There are no less than 12 wine farms to explore in the Durbanville wine valley of rolling hills that’s so close to Cape Town it makes for a good day trip. But you really should stay longer to truly enjoy all that is on offer!
Altydgedacht has the oldest functioning wine cellar in the country (while you are there look out for the slave bell that still rings daily signalling lunch break) and whilst De Grendel may have the newest wines, they have a fascinating history along with spectacular views of Table Mountain.
Diemersdal are famous for their Thursday night steak special (book long in advance) and Sunday roasts, but if a swanky dinner with a view in the winelands suits your palate, then Durbanville Hills is the one for you – they have a gourmet set menu that changes seasonally.
Hillcrest Estate produce a delicious olive oil that you can get refilled at their gate, but do make sure you book for their Tapas Evenings on the last Friday of every month. You can’t beat Cassia Restaurant’s tranquil setting next to a dam at Nitida for breakfast, but if hens clucking around your feet make you happy while you tuck into an omelette, then try the quirky Café Ruby at Klein Roosboom.
If you are serious about getting the most out of your wine tasting, Bloemendal offers very generous tastings in an unhurried environment and if you buy wine you get a voucher to enjoy another tasting on the house. Otherwise head to Phizante Kraal for a wine tasting in the farm’s original chicken coop (if the weather is bad) or enjoy a tasting in a swing or on a couch in a red wine-stained cave at Klein Roosboom. Signal Gun is the perfect spot if you are wanting a change from wine as they do beer tasting and beer and biltong pairings as well as wine tasting. They also fire their 300 year old canon every first Saturday of the month and you can go on a game drive over the weekends.
Mountain bikers have a wide choice of routes to choose from throughout the valley, while runners can go to Meerendal every Saturday morning for Park Run. If you are looking for somewhere to stay, then the self-catering cottages at D’Aria are the perfect spot – they also give you a bottle of wine to enjoy while taking in the view over their vineyards.
2. Helderberg Wine Route
There are five wine farms in the Somerset West area, which makes this an easy day trip from Cape Town.
Waterkloof offers the most spectacular views over Gordon’s Bay and Strand which you can take in over a three-course lunch in their glass-panelled restaurant. If that’s a little extravagant for your wallet, you can enjoy a wine tasting with a cheese platter to share either outside on the balcony or indoors by the fireplace. This biodynamic farm (of which most is dedicated to fynbos, not vineyards) also offers various packages where you can take a walk through the fynbos or go for a horse ride with lunch.
Avontuur is often mistaken for a thoroughbred horse farm when one drives past it, but in addition to breeding race horses they also produce wines which you can try in their tasting room. They are a popular breakfast spot (think champagne breakfast!) so best to book ahead and they also do dinners in their elegant restaurant on Wednesdays and Fridays. You can also go on a farm walk coupled with a speciality tasting and they host various special events, such as chocolate and wine pairings and the popular mares and foals walk.
Vergelegen is one of the most popular estates and it’s easy to see why! Beautiful historical buildings, magnificent gardens, a museum, a library, various restaurant choices and picnic spots coupled with loads of activities for families make this a full-day affair and well worth the R10 entrance fee.
Olive lovers will have a sensory overload at Morgenster with their olive oil tastings, but if you have more of a sweet tooth, they also do a chocolate and wine pairing in addition to wine tastings. Their restaurant overlooking a dam is open for lunch and dinners on select days of the week.
The well-loved and picturesque Lourensford (hosts of our Getaway Show) also has plenty on offer including a harvest market on Sundays, a coffee roastery, an art studio and a restaurant offering breakfast, lunch and dinner. Plus there’s wine tastings, chocolate and wine pairing, Turkish delight pairing and even a kiddies tasting.
3. Darling Wine Route
Darling is of course best known for its microbrewery Darling Brew (and any self-respecting alcohol fan would make a stop there) but there’s more to it than that. Just over an hour’s drive from Cape Town sees the beginning of the Darling Wine Route, which runs between the towns of Yzerfontein and Malmsbury.
Taste The Very Sexy Shiraz at Cloof Cellars while relaxing on their lawn or in their rustic tasting room where you can order light meals and cheese platters from their Cloof Kitchen.
Possibly the best known farm on the route, Groote Post is always worthy of a stop, be it for lunch at Hilda’s Kitchen or to enjoy a farm drive through the vineyards and their 2000 hectare game camp (bookings are essential). Groote Post also hosts a country market on the last Sunday of every month during the summer months. And it would be remiss of us not to mention Darling Olives, in Yzerfontein, where olive lovers can visit for a 30-minute tasting which includes their olive oils, olive chocolate, jams, pastes, rubs and various olives.
4. Elgin Wine Route
Elgin is not only the biggest producer of apples: there are also 16 wine farms in the area (many only open by appointment). That makes for a long list, so here are a few that we can recommend you definitely visit.
Highlands Road is the perfect summer’s day escape where you can have a swim in their dam, scoff pizza or burgers on the lawn with a bottle or two of their wines while the kids play on the jungle gym. Well-behaved dogs are welcome too!
Oak Valley has a magnificent restaurant overlooking a swimming pool where you can tuck into country cuisine, including pork shoulder from their acorn-fed, free-range pigs and Wagyu beef when available. They also do breakfasts and picnics (November to April). Mountain bikers are in for a treat as Oak Valley have just collaborated with Paul Cluver allowing riders to cross their borders and cycle a 70km round-trip – one of the longest single-track rides in the country!
Other than mountain bike trails and wine tasting, Paul Cluver hosts summer concerts in their Hope Amphitheatre, a 600-seater natural amphitheatre surrounded by massive eucalyptus trees. Upcoming acts include Karen Zoid, The Parlotones, Watershed and Elvis Blue.
Art lovers should definitely visit South Hill, where you can enjoy a bistro-style lunch while perusing a variety of artworks including sculptures, paintings, photography, ceramics and mixed medium works. If you fancy spending the night, there’s a five bedroom luxury villa and a romantic honeymoon cottage. If you crave a glass of bubbly then Charles Fox is well worth a visit. The views from their tasting room make for a magnificent Cap Classique pairing!
5. Bot River Wine Route
There’s a real sense of community amongst the people who live in Bot River which extends to the wine farms surrounding the town. The tasting room at Luddite has been beautifully redone with wine barrel lids embedded in the floor and there will soon be a deck where you can enjoy the views of the valley.
Gabriëlskloof serve breakfast sand lunches where you get to enjoy a beautiful view while savouring the flavours of your meal. The deli has a wide range of farm produce from olive oil to cheese to lavender soap and if you are looking for a wedding venue, they have their own chapel.
Beaumont Family Wines has the region’s oldest wine cellar and a working watermill that’s over 200 years old. In addition to creating fine wine the farm produces jams and preserves, along with stone ground flour from their historic watermill.
A must-visit along the R43 to Hermanus is the Ecology Lifestyle Farm where you can taste the Paardenkloof Wines while tucking into a delicious home-made meal from their small menu (they will soon be holding braais over the weekend). You can still go to their farm in Bot River to see their Nguni cows and taste their wines (new tasting room opening soon), but this is much more accessible!
If you are looking for places to stay along with wine-tasting, Wildekrans has a selection of luxury self-catering cottages and Beaumont has accommodation alongside their watermill, while Barton offer three Tuscan-style villas that sleep four to six people.
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