The vast Cape wine regions of South Africa expand both to the north and south of Cape Town, the second largest city in this wild and picturesque African country. Wine has been produced in this part of the world since the Dutch East India Company established the Cape Colony in 1652. Today there are more than 20 wine growing areas and at least 17 wine routes surrounding the Cape. In just a half-hour drive from Cape Town, you’ll start to see the beginnings of the Cape vineyards.
South African wine used to be all about Chenin Blanc, Pinotage and Cabernet Sauvignon, but more recently a younger generation of winemakers have been playing with different varietals, including Bordeaux, Shiraz, Chardonnay and even trying their hand at sparkling wines.
The towns (and wine regions) of Franschhoek and Stellenbosch are two of the most important and innovative wine making areas in the Cape and are chocked full of wineries, restaurants and picture perfect views of one of the world’s most stunning wine regions. With so much wine to navigate, here are some of the best vineyards to visit to get the most out of a South African wine adventure.
Located in the Franschhoek valley, Chamonix is at the top of a long road that meanders high into the mountains and dates back to 1688. With its stony, clay rich soil, hand picked grapes and young, ambitious winemaker at the helm, Chamonix is amongst the top wineries in the country right now, not to mention one of the most breathtaking. For those who are fans of French style, unoaked Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, this is definitely a place to discover wine that can rival its European counterparts. Their newly renovated restaurant, Racine, offers sophisticated bistro fare and supports Chamonix’s philosophy of pairing good food and good wine. The property also includes a wild game farm where it’s not unlikely to see ostrich, zebra and springbok wandering around.
Stellenbosch is the unofficial wine region of South Africa and although there are so many wineries worth visiting in these parts, Tokara should be the first stop. The winery itself is nestled amongst row upon row of vines and olive groves, with sweeping views of False Bay and Table Mountain. The Tokara wines are innovative and distinct, complemented by the winery’s avant-garde architecture and impressive art collection. Known for their exceptional Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah wines, Tokara’s premium-end wine collection should not be overlooked. Their contemporary restaurant is set in a stunning steel, glass and stone building with an exceptional view of the property and is led by award wining South African chef Richard Carstens.
Stony Brook Vineyards
For something smaller and family run, Stony Brook is the perfect stop in Franschhoek, just a 40-minute drive from Cape Town. Nigel and Joy McNaught run this boutique winery, along with their son Craig, who has recently taken over winemaking operations. Contrary to the other two wineries, Stony Brook makes only small quantities of wine that reflect the unique micro-climate of their location on the southernmost tip of Franschhoek; the perfect environment for Bordeaux style wines. Most notably, their flagship wine the ‘Ghost Gum’ is a Cabernet-based Bordeaux-style blend that has spent 32 months in new French Oak. Its name comes from the one hundred and fifty-year-old Ghost Gum tree that’s visible from the farm’s open air tasting area. This highly rated wine is definitely worth a glass, although a little bit of bubbly to sip on the verandah overlooking the vineyards might also do the trick.
See all our Cape Town villas