The Cape is known for delicious wines: it’s kind of our thing. But what happens when you venture beyond the familiar wine farms around Constantia, Stellenbosch and Franschhoek? For the more adventurous wine-lovers, these lesser-known wine routes should be next on your to-do list.
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.
Vergelgen 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.
6. Hemel en Aarde Wine Route
Also known as the Hermanus Wine Route (it stretches from Hermanus to Caledon) this piece of ‘Heaven on Earth’ has something for everyone including over ten wine farms. At the beginning of the route is Whalehaven, where you can pair wines with chocolates and wine jams, along with a wine and perfume pairing, a unique experience that focuses only on the sense of smell.
At La Vierge the whole experience is over the top, from the view (even from the loo) to the bold and flamboyant décor. The names of their wines are slightly wicked too making for a fun addition to your wine collection.
If you love a gourmet food and wine pairing, Creation is the place to go. It’s quite a lavish affair and the pairings are as delicious to look at as they are to eat. If you have the time, take a look at their book on the farm – the story behind Creation is an inspiring tale involving dreams and determination.
The exquisite gardens and lake at Sumaridge make for a spectacular setting in which to enjoy a wine tasting while looking out over the view of mountains and sea. If you are feeling hungry, they offer various platters that can be paired with their wines.
Spookfontein’s face brick building hides a rather special treat – when you step through the wooden doors you are met with views that are out of this world, accompanied by beautiful artworks and elaborate chandeliers. You can taste three wines free of charge and ELL restaurant serves delicious pizzas and various platters.
You can also enjoy a tasting of Ataraxia wines in a chapel at the foot of the Babylonstoren mountains where the view is simply heavenly.
MCC fans will relish sipping bubbly in a stylish shed while taking in another fantastic view at Domaine Des Dieux. Picnic baskets are also available, but must be pre-ordered 36 hours before your visit. Then there is The Restaurant at Newton Johnson where you can tuck into a decadent two or three-course lunch, a four-course dinner or a six-course tasting menu.
Take a self-guided nature walk through the beautiful Bouchard Finlayson estate, followed by a wine-tasting. If you don’t want to drive yourself along the Hemel en Aarde wine route, you can book a tour with Hermanus Wine Hoppers who will take you to all the wineries in the valley.
7. Stanford Wine Route
Stanford is a well-loved weekend getaway for Capetonians and their eight wine farms have plenty to offer with beautiful restaurants, picnics and overnight accommodation. Sir Robert Stanford Estate has an interesting history and while you are there you can take their Vineyard Tram to the vineyards (good for a group outing) and also enjoy a Grappa cocktail at the Fynbos Distillery while keeping an eye out for Pinky and Ponky, their resident pot-bellied pigs.
Kids will love Stanford Hills with its fantastic playground against a backdrop of Pinotage-yielding grapevines. They also do Sunday roasts, have live bands and you are welcome to swim in their dam.
Raka’s tasting room has an amazing view to savour while sipping on their award-winning wines and there’s also a build-your-own-picnic option that includes cheeses, meats, breads, olives and various condiments. Next door to Raka is Boschrivier, a charming spot in a restored homestead with a small restaurant offering light meals and a selection of local arts and crafts are also on sale.
It’s not surprising that Springfontein is a popular venue for lunch with its wonderfully quirky décor and relaxed atmosphere. The Bar(n) offers cheese boards and light meals, while Eats is a slightly pricier two and three-course gourmet affair. Look out for the Limestone Rocks wines, named after the owner’s favourite rock songs and the whisky bar that will be opening soon!
If you are looking for an affordable place to stay, then Vaalvlei would be a good option, especially if you are looking to get back to nature, enjoy trout fishing and have a love of frogs (ask owner, Naas Terblanche to show you his frog video). The port is also very good!
8. Elim Wine Route
Did you know that the vineyards in Elim date back to 1824 when the Moravian missionaries planted vines for sacramental winemaking purposes? Today you can visit established wine farms in the area and go for a walk through the Moravian town of Elim where children play in the streets and residents wave hello from their homes.
The Black Oystercatcher has a restaurant (the building is over 100 years old and has been a dairy parlour, stables and has even housed ostriches) where you can enjoy a lunch (the potato wedges are great!) and is a good choice for an overnight stay in their well-equipped self-catering cottages where you can enjoy a braai with a view while relaxing on chairs made from wine barrels. They also have a game area with buffalo, hippo, quagga, bontebok, eland and springbok. In the near future you will also be able to tuck into deli offerings along with craft beer and hotdogs at their Brewhouse.
The tasting room at Strandveld is in a lovely colonial-style building with beautiful gardens that you are welcome to explore while enjoying a tasting of their Portuguese-explorer-inspired wines. They also offer self-catering accommodation and mountain bikers are welcome to take on the farm dirt tracks.
Sijnn is part of the Elim collection, but is a fair distance away, being closer to Malgas. However, it’s well worth the drive along the dirt roads to witness wine farming in truly rugged conditions – with a team of only five people who do everything from pruning and picking to stomping, bottling and labelling. The tasting room (open by appointment) has stunning views over the Breede River and they occasionally have platters, pizza and burgers available too.
9. Breedekloof Wine Route
There are 16 wineries in the Rawsonville, Slanghoek, Goudini and Breede River area: it’s also known as the Route Less Travelled. At Jason’s Hill the kids can enjoy the rolling lawns, swings and sandpit while parents tuck into lunch at the bistro. They also have a hiking trail with beautiful views of the Slanghoek Mountains.
The stylishly decorated Bistro at Bergsig offers a relaxed dining atmosphere while enjoying the views of their vineyards and Bainskloof. They also have mountain biking routes if you want to build up an appetite before lunch and a bird watching route if you fancy a stroll after your meal.
If you have a sweet tooth and enjoy more quirky surroundings, try a cupcake pairing at Kirabo. If you are feeling peckish in the afternoon, get to Opstal’s new deck where you can enjoy wine tasting while nibbling on snacks or give their cheese and wine pairing a go. They also serve breakfasts, light meals, pies and burgers.
Craft beer lovers should visit Du Toitskloof who, in addition to craft beer, have half-price pizza happy hour every Friday evening.
10. Klein Karoo Wine Route
From Montagu through to Ladismith, Calitzdorp, Oudtshoorn and De Rust, this is the ultimate roadtripping wine route! There are 20 wineries on this route, each as diverse as the wines of the region and you’ll need a few days (or weeks) to really enjoy them.
If you don’t stop there, Joubert-Tradauw just before Barrydale has a deli where the Route 62 Platter comes highly recommended!
A visit to Mymering just outside of Ladismith is a must – it’s a beautiful spot beneath the Towerkop mountains and owner/winemaker Andy Hillock is an interesting man to talk to (he’s been a pilot and a surgeon before turning his talents to wine). You can also stay on the farm in their fabulous suites, complete with plunge pools under the Karoo stars.
If you are just passing through Ladismith, pop into the Karoo Vine – it must be the cutest wine shop in the country and it has all the wines from the region.
Calitzdorp is a charming country town on it’s own, but while you are there make sure you visit De Krans and Boplaas (they are famous for their delicious port-style wines). At De Krans you can enjoy lunch at their deli while the kids play in the playground, try a wine, port and biscotti pairing and in December you can pick peaches!
Grundheim will knock your socks off (literally) with their Witblits tastings! The tasting room itself is as charming as their labelling.
Just outside Oudtshoorn is Karusa, the place to go for craft beer and tapas. Make sure you don’t miss the Doornkraal Padstal between Oudtshoorn and De Rust where you can taste wines from the region, browse local artworks, grab a delicious homemade pie for the road and a colourful ostrich feather duster for your aunt.
In De Rust (this arty one-horse town has a wonderful appeal of its own) you can visit Excelsior Vlakteplaas to taste their award-winning Muscadel and Jerepigo wines, but you have to make an appointment (their wines are for sale at Doornkraal Padstal).
Been anywhere special that we should know about? Tell us in the comments below.
Compiled by Rachel Robinson