Get to know Stellenbosch this summer

Posted by Reyanah Slamdien on 14 December 2018

Surrounded by lush vineyards and majestic mountains, Stellenbosch, with its bustling streets lined with oak trees, cafés, art galleries, is a must-see spot.

Only 50km from Cape Town, the quaint but buzzing university town is a unique destination for both locals looking for a quick escape from city life and tourists wanting to immerse themselves in the town’s culture—particularly its grape culture. It’s called the winelands for good reason, after all. However, there’s a lot more to get to know about South Africa’s second-oldest town than its wine, though that’s never to be missed.

Unwined at a Wine Estate

Lanzerac Wines

Locals will tell you that Stellenbosch is more than just its wonderful wine, but the town has become synonymous with the beverage given it is the country’s oldest wine route. No guide to the town is complete without a bit of Stellies wine appreciation. From personalised vineyard tours and wine tastings to wine and pizza pairings, there’s a wine activity for most.

If you’re in the mood to unwind, a visit to the recently re-opened Lanzerac Wine Estate is for you.

The 326-year-old wine farm is famed for its award-winning wines and for being the home of the world’s very first bottled Pinotage. The estate currently has three wine tasting options designed to satisfy even the pickiest of wine lovers’ palates. These can be enjoyed out on the veranda overlooking the Stellenbosch valley or in the estate’s new-look Tasting Room.

The most popular is the Wine and Chocolate pairing experience which sees delicious hand-crafted chocolates enhancing the flavours and aromas of Lanzerac’s signature wines. Each chocolate can be bought in the tasting room for R60—a great gift that enables the recipient to treat themselves to a tasting experience in their own home.

Guests can also go on a wine cellar tour. The tours start at 11am everyday and are led by one of the estate’s expert wine advisors.

Also read: 6 must-do Winelands summer outings

Don’t Wine and Drive – take a Tuk Tuk

The thing about wine is, after a few glasses, you’re not going to be (legally) driving anywhere.

Tuk Tuk Stellies offers wine tours in the Cape Winelands that take visitors around the area in authentic Thai Tuk Tuks. Whatever the route, the guides will chauffeur you to and from your destination for a fixed hourly rate. Meanwhile, you can simply sit back, relax and gaze at the scenery from the open vehicles, going from winery to the next.

The well-informed tour guides knows the history of Stellenbosch and its wines well, and will make sure that you have a fun-filled, informative trip.

Unlike other pricier shuttle services, Tuk Tuk offers affordable rates thanks to the fuel-efficient vehicles.

 

Immerse yourself in artistic beauty

Nasser Zadeh – Stellenbosch Church Street

‘Where wine and mountains are, the creatives will come’. Many have made the creative pilgrimage to Stellenbosch over the years, and a few have found themselves unable to leave, instead settling in Stellenbosch and opening galleries there.

Stellenbosch is also home to several internationally-acclaimed local artists, and no trip to the town is complete without seeing their works, which feature various galleries around town.

Recently, tourist authorities developed the Art Route—a map of locations of art galleries and other art-related landmarks—to compliment the long established wine route. Culture hounds will have their hands full during an entire day as they meander through the creative core of Stellies.

Strolling through Stellenbosch, you’ll see sculptures strategically placed along sidewalks and squares between Dorp and Victoria, Drostdy and Market Streets, which are otherwise known as the ‘Arts Quarter’.

Spanning various art movements from Realism, Impressionism and Expressionism, to Cubism and Abstract, the pieces you’ll find around Stellenbosch are varied to say the least and cover themes such as the South African landscape, indigenous people and everyday life.

History buff? Visit a museum

Stellenbosch, which means ‘Stel’s se bosch’, is the second-oldest town in South Africa after Cape Town. It was founded by, and named after, former Cape Colony governor Simon van der Stelin way back in 1679, so if you’re interested in history a visit to the Stellenbosch Village Museum is a must.

The museum comprises four restored historic houses with their original furnishings, which will give you a sense of what it was like to live in Stellenbosch during the 18th and 19th centuries. These houses include the Schreuderhuis—the oldest restored townhouse in South Africa—and the Blettermanhuis, built in 1789 by the last magistrate appointed by the Dutch East India Company.

For the architecture appreciators 

Dorp Street

If you are in search of the town’s oldest buildings and some of the most beautiful examples of Dutch colonial architecture, take a walk down Dorp Street.

Originally part of the old road that connected Stellies and Cape Town, it was initially known simply as ‘the wagon road to the Cape’. The plots first began popping up along the road in 1710.

Over the years, it became adorned with buildings in a variety of architectural styles. Dutch colonial architecture is a unique style of building that combines Dutch, French, German, and Indonesian design elements, in line with the country’s colonial influences.

Situated 3.9km from Lanzerac Estate, Dorp Street, with its rows of old buildings, just begs to be explored.

The street’s attractions include historical buildings, boutiques, museums, galleries, delis, coffee shops, and restaurants. As the second-oldest road in the country, it is a national monument too.

Some buildings that call for a longer linger include: The Oude Leeskamer, The Verbatim Bookstore, The university’s art gallery, and Oom Samie se Winkel.

A city of oaks

Dorp Street

The manors along Dorp Street are not the only historic attractions in Stellenbosch. Some of the towering oak trees in the town are so old, they’ve been marked as National Monuments. You’ll be able to see frames dedicated to them as you walk along the streets.

The settlers who first lived in the area were encouraged by Simon Van Der Stel to plant oak trees as the land was fertile. He even planted many himself.

Today, you will see massive, regal oak trees framing the homes and lining the streets amongst the vineyards.

Due to the large oak tree numbers, Stellenbosch received the nickname ‘Eikestad’ which means ‘village of oaks’.

For the foodies

From sipping to munching, there are lots options for eating out in Stellenbosch. Food market Root 44 sells delicious food, from sushi to boeries to craft beer. As a university town, Stellenbosch is in no short supply of student staples such as pizzas and burgers, and you’ll find some of the best at Basic Bistro. Rest En Vrede, a fine-dining joint and one of the top 10 restaurants in SA, can also be found here.

To truly get a taste of the town, visit one of Lanzerac’s four eateries: The Manor Kitchen, Taphuis, Craven Lounge, or Lanzerac Deli. Here you can indulge in gastronomic delights made from locally- and sustainably-sourced produce. Manor Kitchen, in particular, is a gourmet must with its opulent buffet breakfasts laid out daily, and wholesome dishes served every evening beneath an enormous skylight.

Guests of Manor Kitchen can also feast on a special four-course Sunday lunch, or a delectable Afternoon Tea every Saturday. You can book a private lunch on any weekday for groups of eight guests or more.

For those wanting to spend some time exploring Stellenbosch, Lanzerac Wine Estate offers 53 exquisitely-styled rooms or suites. With so much to see, taste and do, you won’t want to leave.

To get more information or make a reservation, visit http://www.lanzerac.co.za.

1012442

Inspiration