Cape Winelands in South Africa
Dating back to the mid-1600s, the iconic Cape Winelands comprises one of the world’s most famous wine routes showcasing hundreds of wine producers and grape cultivation.
Galleries and museums
Everything you need to know
The Cape Winelands comprises one of the world’s most famous wine routes showcasing hundreds of wine producers. Dating back to the mid-1600s, it is not only the largest winemaking region, but also the oldest.
After settling in South Africa in 1652, the Dutch discovered the fertile land and climate in the Western Cape region ideal for growing grapes. This resulted in wine farms springing up all over and the first-ever wine produced in 1659 by Jan van Riebeeck himself.
Today, the region is a haven of rich history and cultural heritage with some of the most magnificent scenery in the country. Nestled within lush, fertile valleys and rolling hills of vineyards the famed Cape Winelands play host to some of the finest wines on Earth.
Where is the Cape Winelands located?
The Cape Winelands is a collection of farmsteads, towns and villages that stretches between the West Coast and Overberg. Located less than an hour from Cape Town, this picturesque countryside region lies in the valleys alongside the Cape Fold mountains.
Traditionally, the epicentre of the Cape Winelands would include regions like Stellenbosch, Breede River Valley, Drakenstein, Witzenberg and Langeberg. But today, the Winelands extend beyond these districts to include newer vineyards like Constantia, Walker Bay, Darling, and more.
Top destinations in the Cape Winelands
The valley of Franschhoek is considered the gourmet capital of the Cape and is home to some of the country’s best restaurants. It is a gourmand’s paradise featuring exceptional local and international cuisine by top chefs in a beautiful setting. The town has a rich French Huguenot character, and plays host to a number of wine, art and music festivals. The secluded valley is rich in natural beauty, with sprawling vineyards at the foot of imposing mountain ranges. There are a number of stunning accommodation options in the valley, ranging from gracious Cape Dutch style manor houses, to contemporary hotels and more. Photo credit | Babylonstoren
Stellenbosch is the country’s most famous wine-producing region, playing host to some 150 wine farms and estates. Considered the birthplace of Pinotage, the region is also renowned for its exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Bordeaux wines. The town itself is surrounded by sprawling lush vineyards and mountains, and plays host to a myriad of quaint coffee shops, restaurants, museums and more. Age-old Cape Dutch, Georgian and Victorian-style buildings occupy the charming oak-lined streets, with a host of top-class accommodation options for visitors.
Constantia is where it all began. The valley is home to the first ever wine estate in South Africa, developed by then Governor of the Cape, Simon van der Stel in 1685. This leafy wine-producing suburb sits on the southern slopes of the iconic Table Mountain – a mere 20-minute drive from the centre of Cape Town, making it easily accessible for a day visit of tastings and lunch. It is most famous for its cool-climate Sauvignon Blanc and Bordeaux Blend wines, as well as its sweet dessert wines from Muscat Blanc. The area is home to a number of historic manor houses and has some of the Cape’s top restaurants ranging from à la carte dining to bistro-style eateries.
When to visit the Cape Winelands
The hot, dry months between November and March offer great opportunities to dine alfresco and sip on delicious chilled wines in the sunshine. February to March is harvest season, so you’ll be able to catch the vines rich and heavy with grapes.
April and May see aging vines take on striking splashes of burnt amber, orange, yellow and brown. The weather is lovely and temperate during this time.
The winter months from June to August bring the rain, and transform the winelands into a blanket of green. This is a great time to cosy up next to a roaring fire and enjoy a range of delicious reds.
In Spring, the Winelands transform once again with sprinkles of wildflowers across the landscape. The weather from September to November is lovely and mild – the perfect time to enjoy the scenic Winelands.