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On the southwestern tip of Africa is one of the most picture-perfect gems of the world – Cape Town and the Cape Winelands. Breathtaking mountain scenery and long sandy beaches join the lush green vineyards of the Cape Winelands.

Viticulture was established in the Cape in the 17th century as an experiment when settlers migrated out of Cape Town, fleeing authority in their quest for their own land. After years of disappointment, wine making came into its own and today the Cape Winelands boasts over 340 vintages grown throughout countless vineyards. Amongst some of the more familiar cultivars are Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet, Pinotage and Shiraz.

Vineyard near Stellenbosch
 

With over 300 wine producers in the area, and over 100 wine estates open to the public, Stellenbosch is arguably the country’s most famous wine producing area. With Table Mountain in the distance, Stellenbosch is the oldest town in South Africa, founded in 1697 by Governor Simon van der Stel, with its history and culture reflected in the many neo-Dutch, Georgian and Victorian architectural styles seen throughout the town. Stellenbosch is ideally situated in a magnificent mountain valley and is the ideal point from which to explore the Winelands. This oak lined town is also home to the oldest university in South Africa and boasts many notables amongst its alumni. Nature reserves abound and Stellenbosch offers excellent wildlife and birding for the enthusiasts.

Nearby Paarl is equally famed as a wine producing area and is the 3rd oldest town in South Africa. Dominated by the imposing granite outcrop of Paarl Rock, the second largest granite outcrop in the world, Paarl is a quaint and delightful town. A short 56 km drive from Cape Town, Paarl offers historical charm, culture, architectural heritage, wine and fruit farms, breathtaking scenery and many nature trails. Outdoor entertainment is to be had at nearby attractions where visitors may view birds, butterflies, snakes, crocodiles and that famous member of Africa’s Big 5, the stately lion.

Many other notable wine producing towns are found throughout this region. A visit to the Cape Winelands would not be complete without taking in beautiful Ceres, Tulbagh, once the scene of a devastating earthquake, Wolseley with its reminders of the Boer War or Wellington, an architectural jewel at the foot of the Groenberg Mountain. Robertson, founded in the early 1800s, was an important centre in its day providing wagons for local farmers and those settlers on their trek north. Today Robertson is much better known as an area producing wines of high quality.  All these towns are acknowledged for their contribution to the wine heritage of the Cape.

Travelling up the West Coast takes in the vast Swartland Wine Route. The ‘Capital’ of the Swartland, Malmesbury, is an easy 1-hour drive from Cape Town. This area is famed for its wine and grain cultivation and quaint villages, all contributing to the Wine Route, are dotted throughout the lush and hilly countryside. The tiny hamlet of Riebeek-Kasteel nestles at the foot of Kasteelberg amidst countless chequered vineyards of all hues. Equally well known for its olive production, Riebeek-Kasteel is famous for its annual Olive Festival.

Throughout the Cape Winelands, outdoor activities abound and include golf, fly-fishing, mountain biking, mountain climbing, hiking, hot air ballooning, sky diving, parachuting, horse riding, quad bikes and much more.

ACCOMMODATION   Back to top

Please visit our Winelands accommodation page for a selection of our favourite hotels in the area.

 

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