Mini-guide: The Winelands of South Africa

Do you ever think of the wine when you think of South Africa?  This wine region is quite remarkable from the breathtaking views to the delicious gourment food to the wide variety of wine.  Here is a mini-guide of the winelands (Stellenbosch and Franschhoek) of South Africa.

When to go

If you want to enjoy the warmer weather, South Africa’s winelands peak season is during September (Spring) – April (Summer).

Where to stay

There is a huge range of accommodations in the area ranging from boutique hotels to backpacker lodges to self-catering apartments.  If you would like a central location, try the d’Ouwe Werf in downtown Stellenbosch.  It is considered to be one of the oldest inns in South Africa (established in 1802).

What to eat

There are various places to eat, but here are two that are highly recommended:  La Petite Ferme and Tokara.

  • La Petite Ferme– A great lunch spot when driving to Franschhoek is La Petite Ferme.  This restaurant has been listed by Conde Nast Traveler as one of the top 15 ‘Best Value’ establishments in the world.  Try to book a table on the veranda for amazing view of the farm.  The food is quite refreshing.  We ordered pork loin chop, braised lamb (which they are famous for), and creme brulee.  Reservations are highly recommended.

  • Tokara– Tokara is a perfect place to stop for stunning views during sunset.  It is located on a mountain slope  along the Helshoogte Pass (which links Stellenbosch to Franschhoek).  Try the grilled springbok if it is on the menu.  Reservations recommended.

What to do

There are plenty of wineries in the area (some date back to the 17th century).  Here are a few to visit if you have a few days.

  • Vergelegen (Somerset West) – If you have a chance, visit the Vergelegen estate on route from Cape Town to Stellenbosch.  This estate, which is over 300 years old, has hosted estate visits with Queen Elizabeth II, the Clintons, and the Mandelas.  To visit the estate, it will cost about 10 rand ( $1.50 USD) per person.  The grounds are quite large with various gardens, picnic areas, and trails.

  • Boschendal– Boschendal was our first stop along the wine route from Cape Town to Franschhoek.  When looking at the postcards of the wine country, this vineyard was photographed quite often.  The grounds are quite tranquil with a long drive to the main estate.  The buildings are of Dutch architecture.  If you want something light to eat (sandwiches, salads), try Le Cafe which has outdoor seating under the oak trees.
  • Waterford– After driving along a dirt road, you will reach the Waterford Estate.  You can enjoy wine tastings and views of the fountain in the central plaza.  If you have a chance, I would recommend the Waterford Estate Chocolate and Wine Experience (60 rand, $9 USD).  The Sauvignon Blanc was one of our favorites.

  • Neethlingshof– Neethlingshof is considered one of the most popular tourist attractions in the winelands.  Wine tastings cost about 30 rand ($4 USD).  One of our favorites was the Gewurztraminer, a white wine with a hint of fruit aromas.  They have varieties which include Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz, and Pinotage.

About Jan

In 2004 and 2010, I set aside time to travel the world in 3 parts. In 2004, I traveled to Thailand, Europe, and Pacific Northwest region of the U.S. In 2010, I traveled to 3 continents: Asia, South America, and Africa. I am not sure if I have a fascination with the number 3, but I seem to be constantly traveling by numbers.
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