Just a short drive from Cape Town city centre lies a series of picturesque valleys known as the Cape Winelands. The Cape Winelands are home to a collection of historic towns, quaint hamlets and Cape Dutch farmsteads that provide South African wines to the world. Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl form a large portion of the Cape Winelands, with grape cultivation dating back to the 1600s. The Cape is teeming with exceptional wines, popular estates and wine routes and most people are familiar with Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, but what about those lesser-known farms and regions. Why not explore some of the less familiar hidden gems that South Africa has to offer?
Tulbagh is one of these gems. Located in the Tulbagh Valley and only an hour and a half drive from Cape Town, this historical town is flanked on three sides by mountains, and drained by the Klein Berg River. Tulbagh enjoys some diverse and attractive conditions for viticulture, and the differences in terrain makes for a wide diversity in distinctive wines. The wineries range from smaller homely cellars that produce humble and honest wines to boutiques estates known for award-wining labels. Wine has been produced for many years in the basin on a commercial scale but only recently have serious advances been made.
Some of the other lesser explored but equally interesting wine regions in the Cape also offering excellent wines include the Durbanville, Wellington, Hemel en Aarde, Botriver, Standford, Swartland, Darling, Elgin and Breedekloof Winelands.
A day in the Winelands offers the perfect family-friendly day out, travel is 40 minutes to 1.5 hours from Cape Town (depending on which area you visit). A popular option is enjoying a full or half day tour or even overnights stays (at least two nights is recommended). Travellers enjoying a full day tour can experience up to 3 wine estates and 3 to 5 wines per tasting.
Wine lovers visiting Stellenbosch, Franschhoek or Paarl must experience some of the variety of wine pairings on offer - tasty local wines are paired with cheese, chocolate, pizza, ice-cream, nougat, marshmallow, candy floss, biscotti, cheesecake, doughnut, cupcake, macaroon, toffee, quiche, pie, biltong, charcuterie, artisanal salt… There is also a range of non-alcoholic tastings including fruit juice or non-alcoholic wines and tea, chocolate, cheese, ice-cream, olive oil and vinegar tastings. Whether you chose the alcoholic or non-alcoholic options, these favour combinations offer something to excite every pallet!
If you are looking to explore more of these areas you can try other tastings including gin, whiskey, brandy and craft beers. The Franschhoek Wine Tram also offers a fun day out especially for couples. Other options to explore more of this area include the Stellenbosch Vine Hopper and the City Sightseeing Bus which is perfect for all ages.
A day spent in the Cape Winelands can also be spent enjoying the excellent dining options, having a tasty picnic at one of the local wine estates – many of which offer children’s activities of even non-alcoholic and fun pairings for children, visit coffee shops or delis, explore one of the many markets on offer, enjoy visits to art gelleries, museums, book shops or you could also quite simply take a scenic drive while taking in the fantastic scenery!
Other activities in the winelands area which wine lovers and non-drinkers alike are sure to enjoy, include shopping at one of the many boutique shops, walks, hikes, cycling, horse riding or Segway tours in the vineyards, hot air balloon adventure tours, music festivals and animal adventures such as the duck parade (a family favourite), eagle encounters, cheetah outreach, butterfly world, giraffe house and crocodile farm.
If you would like sample packages showing more information on these and many more fantastic offers awaiting you in the Cape Winelands, please contact us.