NOTE THAT NOT ALL OF THE WINE ESTATES ARE BACK TO THEIR USUAL OPENING DAYS AND TIMES. During this time be aware that some may not be open and others may be opened for a limited number of days. If you are keen on visiting a certain wine estate – check their social media or call to see if they are open at the moment.
Note that this region is fairly large – so check out a wine map to plan your visit to the area or else you will be driving from one end to the other all day! Stellenbosch is recognized as one of the best red wine regions in the country.
It is particularly well known for Bordeaux Style red blends and cabernet sauvignon.
This region is divided into separate wards as the terroir changes quite a lot from one ward to another.
Make sure that you include a visit the town of Stellenbosch. It is our 2nd oldest town in the country and boasts gorgeous “white” house that are a mix of Dutch and British architectural styles. The beautiful architecture represents the two European nations that conquered us. Explore would be Dorp Street for the architecture and Kerk (Church) Street for the shopping and for sitting at pavement cafes watching people pass by. Print out a Stellenbosch map to plan your visit to the town and to the Stellenbosch wine region. MAP
This region is about 45 minutes drive from Cape Town and is nestled among the suburbs of Somerset West.
This farm should be number 1 on your hit list when visiting the Cape. It is one of our most historical estates dating back to the early 1700’s. The history is fascinating and worth delving into. Make sure you explore the historical Cape Dutch Homestead, the gardens (don’t miss the rose garden in summer), the camphor forest and the yellow wood forest. Look out for the Cape’s oldest camphor trees and our oldest oak tree (be warned it is small!).
Vergelegen’s wines win many awards each year – as such a wine tasting is a definite requirement when visiting (large range of wines from great whites through to great reds).
Additional attractions that you would need to pre-book for:
- 09h30 Heritage & Garden tour. Perfect for those who enjoy history and gardens
- 10 am NEW farm environmental tour that takes you on guided journey of the farm.
- 11h30 vinyeard and cellar tour. Spectacular gravity fed cellar on top of a mountain. Note they have more than 70 stairs.
We would highly recommend booking for a picnic in the camphor forest. This is one of the most civilized picnics you will ever book. They set the tables for the picnic randomly around the forest. You arrive and report into the kiosk in the Rose Garden and a waiter brings your prepared picnic basket to your table. It is a serviced picnic – so a waiter will pop by every now and again to check if you need more drinks. They do options for kids and the kids have their own blankets and can explore the forest. It is a great estate for kids as you can walk and explore and play.
If you have the time in your itinerary, plan to arrive late morning for the cellar tour (must book this in advance) and spend the afternoon enjoying the picnic. It is an amazing day out. Click here for booking details. NB book your picnic well in advance in summer as it is often booked a month in advance (Note that the picnics only operate in summer.) There are also two restaurants at Vergelegen – Stables which is a lovely Bistro with a great play area for kids and Camphors – which is more fine dining and not at all kid friendly.
Open 7 days a week. Latest they will let you in is 4pm
Directly next door to Vergelegen is Morgenster. Morgenster is known for its great Bordeaux red blends, its Italian varietal wines and its award winning olive oil. Visit Morgenster to do a wine, olive and olive oil tasting. They do a formal olive oil tasting – yes, you smell the nose…….and actually sip the oil. A scratchiness at the back of your throat indicates that it is a fresh extra virgin olive oil. Tip: they offer some of their aged Bordeaux wines for tasting. Make sure you taste the old and the new vintages!
The farm has a wonderful setting with views of the mountains. The tasting room is stylish and the staff are knowledgeable and offer a wonderful seated tasting. It is a really fun experience and I loved learning about extra virgin olive oil. Not to be missed. It is also a wonderful option if you have teenagers as it is great to learn about olive oil and tutored tasting in fantastic. You can also do a charcuterie, cheese and olive platter here for lunch. Open daily 10am – 5pm.
This is an architectural masterpiece located on top of a mountain with panoramic views over Somerset West/Strand and False Bay. It is gorgeous and well worth popping in to visit for a wine tasting. They are organic & biodynamic & they even use horses to plough their fields. Their wines are fantastic – I particularly like their white wines and their rose! Plan to spend a morning here – do a farm tour or a cellar tour and then a wine tasting with a cheese platter.
Address – Sir Lowry’s Pass Road – you head out of Somerset West and start looking for the sign on your left! Tel no: 021 858 1291/2. (Tip – if you are planning to head this direction for a wine tasting on a weekend – call first as they do shut when they have weddings there!) Open daily for wine tastings. Note this is on the other side of Somerset West – literally in the middle of nowhere – so this one is a destination in itself! NOTE – THE WATERKLOOF RESTAURANT HAS CLOSED DOWN – November 2020. I am sure another restaurant will launch in the space.
Note that if you have kids with you or animal lovers, it is worth planning to stop and visit Cheetah Encounters while you are in Somerset West. Click here to read more on this inspirational project and stop to pet the cheetahs while you are in the area.
From Somerset West you start driving towards Stellenbosch on the R44 to find the following estates:
This is an absolute gem and I would highly recommend a visit to them. For those that are looking for a small family owned estate that offers exceptionally good wines and is off the beaten track – this is it! If you are keen on red wines and red blends this is well worth detouring for. The tasting room is small and they offer a wonderful in depth, knowledgeable tasting. This estate may be a bit dangerous as you will end up taking a few bottles to hide in your luggage or even worse, end up shipping some home! Note that they are now only open by appointment for tasting – it is worth hounding them for an appointment – super small and fabulous wines. Make sure you taste their pinotage. Note you can also simply phone on the day to see if they are open for tastings. Call +27-21-8553625.
Ken is known as the “King” of Chenin Blanc in this country – he was one of the first winemakers to treat Chenin Blanc seriously. Up until the late 1990’s chenin was pretty much only used as bulk wine. He has won numerous awards over the years. It is well worth popping in here for a wine tasting. They have a nice little tasting room and if you are peckish you can get a wonderful platter of cheeses to enjoy during your tasting. Note that if you are in the area around lunchtime, 96 Winery Rd Restaurant is just around the corner and is always good for relaxed hearty country dining. Expect to find some of the regions winemakers relaxing here too.
Open for tastings by appointment only.
Le Riche is the rated as one of the top producers of cabernet sauvignon in the country. Nearly every year they walk off with a 5* from John Platters for their Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve. On a visit to the estate you are usually looked after by the assistant winemaker, Mark, or by Etienne’s daughter, Yvonne. This is a small family business.
Le Riche were one of the first to buy in their grapes & to not own their own land (something that has become really popular now). They are however very involved with monitoring the vineyards where they source their grapes from. Note also that as they are not open other than by appointment, they do not keep their full range of wines open for tastings, as such you may have to trust my advice and immediately buy a bottle of the Cab Sav Reserve without tasting it! To book an appointment email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 021 842 3472 Click here for directions to Le Riche
This estate is well worth a visit – it is a breathtaking drive through the estate as you travel over the mountain to get there. Their tasting room offers panoramic views where you can see all the way to False Bay. They are famous for their chardonnay and keep winning a huge number of accolades. It sells out fast though – so it is worth checking before you go if they have some! However – this estate is worth visiting regardless. They have a really good range of wine – they have also been winning awards for their cabernet franc and their Bordeaux blends.
They are surrounded by mountains. This is quite simply one of the most beautiful places I have ever been in the world. Head there for the view, a bottle of wine and a cheese platter. Open daily 10 – 5pm. Tel: +27 (0) 21 880 1683 Location – follow the signs from Annandale road and head high up into the mountains (same turn off for Ernie Els & Hidden Valley) #greatsouthafricanchardonnay
Find them directly next door to Uva Mira (you pass the entrance to get to Uva Mira). Stop for a wine tasting and perhaps for lunch.
Hidden Valley Estate is a fun one to stop at. The cellar is gravity fed and the building is an amazing piece of architecture.
The building comprises of the cellar and Overture Restaurant – which is one of the top restaurants in the country. The view is panoramic and breathtaking – I know that sounds dramatic – but trust me this region is dramatic! The wines are fantastic here and they do a lovely chocolate and wine pairing and can also do cheese boards. Overture is one of my absolute favourite restaurants – they do tasting menu’s that pretty much start with the option of 4 courses or more. You select your courses from the options available that week. The restaurant is all about creativity and the menu changes weekly. You need to book before arrival at Overture.
There are two options for lunch at Hidden Valley – Overture – which is fine dining – or THE DECK. On the deck it is wonderfully relaxed and you can order pizzas or a burger. The Deck is self service. You sit with a wonderful view on the deck overlooking the farm dam and the mountains. An awesome spot for a cheap and fun lunch. The food on the Deck is also prepared by the team that work for Overture!
Wine tasting is open 7 days a week. Option of chocolate and wine pairing and also having a cheese platter.
Ernie Els Wines – OPEN AGAIN
Located next door to Hidden Valley. Once again panoramic views with extremely modern architecture and excellent wines.
Note that Ernie Els sold the estate in 2018. The Estate retains his name. They were closed for renovations for over a year. They have just reopened and are open how open 7 days a week for wine tastings. The new restaurant – which is looks wonderfully stylish is open from Wednesday to Sunday. It may be best to pre-book the restaurant online before you go – especially over weekends. For more details and to book click here.
Note that this estate is close to Ernie Els estate – so if you are in the area, you should visit Rust en Vrede as well.
The estate is home to one of our most famous red wines, which is simply called the Rust en Vrede Estate blend. It has been rated by US Wine spectator as one of the TOP 100 WINES in the world in most years out of the last 15 years – so it is well worth a visit to experience it!
At lunch time they host a simple cellar lunch menu which is a choice of steak or salmon. The tables are scattered inside and around the cellar/wine tasting area. They call this option THE WINEMAKERS LUNCH. There is no need to book. They are open 7 days a week for wine tasting and for the winemakers lunch.
Note that the Rust en Vrede Restaurant is extremely highly rated and worth booking to eat at – it is however only open in the evening. It is a fine dining restaurant that offers tasting menu’s from 4 courses upwards ………so go hungry! The evening restaurant is fine dining and should be booked in advance in the summer. Closed on Sundays – tastings and restaurant.
STELLENBOSCH HILLS WARD:
This is now a really fun one to include if you are a family with kids or if you love runner ducks!
They offer a range of activities:
- Wine Tasting – note they also offer the opportunity to taste vintage wines
- Daily Gourmet Picnics – the picnics are out on the lawns under the trees. They have appointed a wonderful top local chef to do the picnics and the harvest lunches – Chef Ryan has moved here from Cabriere and is doing a great job. The picnics are beautifully presented and are a little gourmet feast. There is loads of space for the kids to run around and play. There is an area for playing Boulle and balls etc for the kids to play with. Plus they have lots of blankets – so if you need a rest on a tree after lunch – ask for a blanket.
- Parade of the ducks – the ducks are used to eat the insects in the vineyards – this is a far more earth friendly approach then using pesticides on the vines. As such they return from work at 3.30pm and they have a parade of the ducks past the tables on their way back – it is well worth staying to experience. NOTE CHECK OUT THEIR WEBSITE FOR TIMES FOR THE MARCH OF THE DUCKS IN THE MORNING – this timing has changed a few times!
- Meerlust – This is one of South Africa’s top wine estates and also one its oldest. They are most well know for their Meerlust Rubicon. This is a Bordeaux style red. Meerlust was the first estate in the country to try and produce a Bordeaux style red. This wine definitely has icon status in our country. A visit to the estate is a definite “must include” for any visit to Stellenbosch. True to their terroir, their focus is mainly on reds. They do however have one white – a chardonnay that is quite oaked and quite delicious! Meerlust is also one of the few producers of Pinot Noir in the country. The tasting room is located in the old wine cellar and posters of art from various art galleries around the world surround you (now alternating with art exhibitions and the sale of local art). It has a feeling of being filled with history and boasts a lovely Cape Dutch homestead (private so take a picture from a distance!). I would highly recommend a visit. Closed on Sundays & Sat Afternoons
- Spier – I always think of Spier as the Disney of the Winelands. It is the best example of brilliant marketing that there is in the Wine region. It is now one of the Top 10 places to visit when you visit Cape Town. Dick Enthoven transformed Spier from a simple wine estate with a historical homestead to a place where people come and spend half a day or a few days. On the one end of the campus he has given ground to Eagle Encounters (a raptour rescue project). The raptour project is non-profit and they have wonderful flying shows of the raptours – this is very interactive as the birds actually come and perch on your glove – well worth taking kids of all ages as the show is great. For times check out Spier’s website for details. On the same campus, you can head through for a wine tasting – the wines have improved leaps and bounds over the last few years and now scoop up many awards or stop for a picnic on the dam (note no private picnics) or book for lunch at Eight Bistro or go for a Segway Tour through the gardens & vineyards, if it is summer check out what is on at their open air theatre – they have some wonderful productions, book a conference on the estate, stay at the hotel, charter a train to take you through to Spier Station if you are a company, go horse riding, play golf……….location 15 minutes from Stellenbosch town. This is perfect if you have kids as there is also a nice play area for them. SPIER UPDATES 2015 – Moyo has closed down on the estate and the cheetah outreach program has moved to Somerset West. Click here to find where the Cheetahs have moved to!
- Van Ryn Brandy – is a great spot to visit for those who are interested in Brandy and how it is made. It is well worth booking to do the brandy tour which includes a visit to the cooperage and a talk on how it is made and how it is matured. Van Ryn offer 3 fantastic brandy pairings – chocolate, charcuterie and florentines! One can also order a cheese platter. They first do a talk on each of the brandies and the history of Van Ryn and then explain the pairing. Even if you are not into brandy – this is a fantastic spot to visit as one learns a huge amount about brandy and for those that are into brandy it is a winner as you have the opportunity to try their highly acclaimed and award winning brandies! The tours are at 10h00, 11h30 and 13h00 (Mon – Sat). Van Ryn has won numerous international awards for their brandy. To book the tour contact 0218813875 Address: Van Ryn Rd (just off the R310 about 5 minutes after you pass Spier heading in direction Stellenbosch)
- Raats Family Wines – (Tasting by appointment only) – Bruwer Raats has created a small boutique winery and decided to focus on wines that are suited to the geology of his land as well as varietals that would stand out from the pack. As such he has focused on chenin blanc and cabernet franc. A visit to Bruwer is a geology lesson. The man is extremely passionate about wine making and his excitement is infectious. He is inspirational and his wines are excellent. (Note that the tastings are not always done by Bruwer anymore – he has a lovely lady that manages the tasting room) To make an appointment email email@example.com or call 021 8813078 Vlaeberg Rd, Polkadraai. Map TIP – THEY WON WINERY OF THE YEAR FOR 2018 – for a wine fanatic this is a “must do” appointment!
- De Toren – Tasting by appointment only. De Toren simply keep bringing in the awards for their red blends – Z and Fusion V. If the technical side of wine production fascinates you, this is a definite to include in your day. Your visit will be conducted by either the owner, the winemaker or the viticulturist. De Toren believe in minimum intervention in the cellar and as such focus on using gravity and as such allow no pumping of the wine. An appointment for a tasting is a tour – so expect to spend at least an hour and a half here. They are highly technical on the viticulture – it is fascinating and I love visiting them. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED BY PAM FOR ANY WINE LOVER. Make your appointment well in advance to avoid disappointment. Location: Polkedraai Rd, Stellenbosch. To make an appointment email firstname.lastname@example.org or call +27 21 881 3119 Directions to De Toren
- Jordan – in an area known for red wines – this estate boasts great white and red
wines due to the fact that they have slopes that face 360 degrees – giving them the flexibility to play across the spectrum. This estate is well worth a visit. They have a good sauvignon blanc, are one of the few estates to offer a blanc fume, are famous for their award winning chardonnay and have a fantastic red blend called Cobblers Hill – a Bordeaux blend that just gets better with time. If you would like to do a cellar tour – book in advance. They also offer a fantastic 4×4 tour through the estate that I would highly recommend as it gives you the opportunity to understand how the terroir and especially the geology influenced the decision on what vines to plant on the various slopes. Gary Jordan is a geologist – hence the fascination with the rocks! Note that one of the Cape’s top restaurateurs has opened a restaurant on the estate. George Jardine moved from Cape Town to open the restaurant at Jordan. He now has a kitchen that has one of the best views in the world! It is wonderful to relax on the terrace at Jordan and enjoy the wonderful dishes prepared in their kitchen. Cuisine – fine dining. With wonderful views over the Cape Winelands and a tradition of relaxing over lunch in the Cape – don’t plan to rush off – simply stay and enjoy the experience! Book well in advance over the summer season. Due to the popularity of this restaurant and the wine, George added a second restaurant called The Bakery @ Jordan. Note that George’s lease for the bakery was not renewed – Jordan Estate will now run this restaurant – so it not the same as before – it is still a lovely setting – but does not have the gourmet twist it had before. For directions click here. Open for wine tasting and lunch daily over summer.
- De Morgenzon (DMZ) – I cannot explain to you how much I love this little winery. It is fun and quirky and quieter then the others in the neighbourhood and has fantastic wine! Plus they play classical music to their Shiraz wines and to their wines maturing in the cellar! Who does that! On arrival at DMZ – park and walk up the hill to the vines above you – you will see the speakers scattered around in the vines – you have just found the Shiraz vines! Apparently the shiraz vines were not growing well when Wendy bought the estate – so they tried this as an experiment – and much to their delight the vines started showing more vigorous growth! Gimic or not – it is great fun! I particularly love this estates Chenin Blanc and Maestro blends – and have fallen in love with the Sauvignon Blanc 2014. It is well worth trying the whole range and letting your taste buds tell you what you fall in love with. The setting for the tasting room is a delightful old Cape Dutch style house which overlaps the wonderfully wild looking garden and the vines. Location: Stellenboschkloof Rd (you drive through it on your way to Jordan) Tel +27 21 881 3030
- Middelvlei – is a family owned winery. I am particularly fond of their pinotage, which is made using the free run juices only from the press. The Momberg family are very warm and welcoming and it is well worth making an appointment with Ben Momberg to do a cellar tour. The cellar tour includes barrel tastings. If you are a group you can also organize to do a fun exercise in wine blending with them. They offer the opportunity to come and experience a traditional South African Braai (BBQ). The Braai lunch is now 7 days a week. For those who are headed elsewhere – you can do a braai tapas pairing – it does not get more local then that! As Braaing is a large part of our South African culture I would strongly recommend booking for the Boere (farmer) Braai. Here you get to sample Roesterbrood (roast bread), our Boerewors (Farmer sausage), pampoenkoekies (pumpkin fritters with cinnamon) and a traditional South African dessert such as Malva pudding or Milk Tart. It is a fun relaxing afternoon (note you will not get out of there – so write off the afternoon) and is a perfect estate to take kids. They have a large pen with all different farm animals, tortises, pot belly pigs, donkeys……….etc. Click here to see the attractions they offer. Click here to read more about the Boere Braai. Contact Althea to book – email@example.com +27 21 8832565 Click here for a map and directions
- Dalla Cia Wine & Grappa– is owned by Georgio Dalla Cia who was the former wine maker at Meerlust where he won numerous awards for his wines. As such from when he broke off on his own, he has been a man to watch as he is immensely talented. Should you wish to pop in and taste his wines, the tastings are done from his wife’s restaurant (Pane e Vino Food & Wine bar) that is next door to the cellar. Grorgio is a also very well known for the grappa that he makes. A tour of the process of making grappa can be organized with them by appointment. Note that the cellar and still are next door to the restaurant. Note that they are NOT on a wine farm and are located in a small industrial area on the outskirts of Stellenbosch. Note that Georgio’s dad was a grappa maker in Italy, he passed the skills to his son and in term Georgio has passed the skills down to his son George who now runs the Grapperia and winery. If you are keen on Grappa – it is well worth booking for a tour of the grapperia followed by a tasting. If you are in the area you would be advised to try some of the yummy Italian dishes at Pane e Vino. It is a hidden gem! Note the location is a small industrial area at the edge of Stellenbosch town. Their neighbours are Villafonte and Stellakaya – which are all worth visiting while you are in the “hood”. 7A Lower Dorp Street, Bosman’s Crossing, Stellenbosch Tel +27 (0)21888 4120 firstname.lastname@example.org
- Villafonte – visit by appointment only & note that the charge for tasting is fairly high (understandable as they do not have a large number of people popping in to taste!). This warehouse cellar is located next door to Dalla Cia. This is a really interesting venture between Mike Ratcliffe (MD of Warwick wines and son of the famous Norma Ratcliffe) and Americans Zelma Long (a famous American winemaker who was one of the 1st women in the US to study oenology) & Phil Freese (ex Robert Mondavi). They produce two exceptionally good red blends – Series C (Cab dominated blend) and Series M (Merlot dominated blend) Location: Unit 7C, Lower Dorp Street, Bosman’s Crossing. Tel: 021 8864083 Email: email@example.com (Best to book in advance)
- Stellakaya – is home to South Africa’s first black female wine maker – Ntsiki Biyela. She is 10 tons of passion and does a great job with the wine making. It is well worth doing a stop here to taste the wines………even more so if you make an appointment to meet Ntsiki. Her journey into wine is inspirational, as is she! I loved our tasting with her. (Reminder Villafonte, Stellakaya & Dalla Cia are neighbours!) Bosmans Crossing, Stellenbosch. +27 (0)21 883 3873 E-Mail firstname.lastname@example.org
TIP – There is a fabulous farmer and artisan food market in Stellenbosch on a SATURDAY MORNING called The Slow Market – so if you are in the region it is well worth popping in for a nibble and to people watch! It is at the Oude Libertas Open Air Theatre (which is the same turnoff as the one you would take to get to Bosman’s crossing for the above three wineries!)
STELLENBOSCH BERG WARD
- Waterford – I am in love with the Waterford Cab, Shiraz, Sauvignon Blanc and the
chardonnay – it is definitely worth a visit to the estate to experience all of their wines, as the whole Waterford range is fantastic. The estate is co-owned by Kevin Arnold (one of South Africa’s most talented wine makers with a reputation for excellent Shiraz) and Jeremy Ord a businessman from Joburg. Together they have taken this estate and built the winery from scratch. This is one of the most stylish tasting experiences around and they have consequently won awards for having one of the best tasting experiences. A visit to Waterford is an exercise in relaxation. Note that they offer a variety of wine tasting experiences: A chocolate & wine pairing, a reserve vintage tastings & a wonderful 4 x 4 wine tour of the estate with tasting (must be booked in advance). Additionally ask to taste the JEM (a wonderful red blend), which is their most expensive wine! Click here for contact details
- De Trafford – is a small family owned wine estate that offer exceptionally good reds. They are particularly well known for their Shiraz which has won many awards. They also make a fabulous and interesting Chenin Blanc Straw wine. Note that the tasting hours are strange: Friday and Saturday 10 – 1. They will however make appointments for tastings for wine enthusiasts! (Well on that note – I have never succeeded in getting an appointment!) Note that this estate is close to Waterford – so they are a good combo when in this area. Tip – start with De Trafford as it is quite a long drive further then Waterford – this one is well off the beaten track and fabulous to visit this tiny cellar. Tastings are in the cellar!
- Dornier – This estate is in the same area at Waterford and De Trafford and has a wonderful restaurant called Bodega on the property. The setting could not be prettier as the cellar is an innovative design that looks like half a fish and when it reflects on the dam, it looks like a full fish! The mountains in the background make this spot jaw dropping and the food is pretty good too. A really fantastic spot. It is also completely Kid friendly with a wonderful play area to keep the kids occupied as well as a Kids menu. #kidfriendlycaperestaurants
Note Stark Conde is part of the same ward, it is however located in the Jonkershoek valley and are as such is nowhere near to the wine estates above. To get to them you will have to pass through Stellenobosch town. A useful tip to note for Stellenbosch is that the street names are all on the pavements ie no street signs!
- Starke Conde – is owned by the inspirational Jose Conde – a self-taught wine
maker. He is making exceptional reds and this is definitely worth a visit. The Three Pines range, which consists of a Cab and a Shiraz, are exceptionally good. The more price friendly range of Stark Conde Wines are some of my favourites! Do not miss out on visiting this gem! The tasting room is also novel in that it is a Bali style “hut” which has been located in the middle of a dam. This tasting room boasts panoramic views of the surrounding mountains – so even if the wines were not exceptional – this would be a fabulous place to visit as the views are jaw dropping. The Postcard Cafe on the estate boasts one of the nicest views in the world! The cafe offerings are simple with a cafe style food theme. This spot is exceptionally beautiful – plan to stay and relax for the afternoon over a few bottles of wine. The Postcard Cafe is extremely popular on weekends – so make sure you make a booking before heading over there. Closed on Mon & Tues. To book Postcard Cafe – +27 21 861 7703 | email@example.com
GREATER SIMONSBERG WARD
- Rustenberg – owned by the Barlow family (one of South Africa’s most wealthy families) and dating back to 1683. The drive to the tasting room is so gobsmackingly beautiful that an inclusion of Rustenberg is a great addition to a day out in the wine region. They are one of our most highly acclaimed estates and well worth a visit by any wine connoisseur. In addition the gardens are magnificent and it is well worth doing a stroll past the historical Cape Dutch homesteads to explore the gardens after you have been tasting. Rustenberg is famous for its chardonnay and its red wines
- Glenelly – located at the foothills of Simonsberg in Stellenbosch (On the edge of Ida’s valley). Glenelly used to be a fruit farm, but May-Elaine de Lencquesaing, the Grand Dame of Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, acquired the property in 2003 and transformed it into a wine farm. A 600 ton contemporary cellar was built, in which gravity plays a huge role throughout the processing stages to assist with traditional winemaking techniques and to obtain the best quality. Their portfolio is crowned by their flagship red blend, the Lady May, named in honour of our Grande Dame. The Lady May is Cabernet Sauvignon based, with a touch of Petit Verdot. The core of our range is the Glenelly, which is a Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot blend, reflecting the partnership between a classical lady with a modern vision and a new world country with a historical terroir. In addition they also have a fantastic chardonnay that has been matured in 500l oak barrels. This chardonnay is lightly wooded, mineral Chardonnay drawing on inspiration from Burgundy. Pam would recommend it for the wonderful architecture, gravity fed cellar, art in the cellar (book a cellar tour to see the art), great wine and the fun in finding it!
- Tokara – is owned by GT Ferreira ( a wealthy local who went into this as his retirement venture – so there was no shortage of funds setting it up!) and the wine maker is Miles Mossop ( a hugely talented young wine maker who is also rather good looking!) Tokara is well worth visiting just to see the architecture and the views. It is an exceptionally modern design which offers sweeping views of the Stellenbosch valley. I am a big fan of their sauvignon blanc that they produce from grapes from different regions – it is great fun to do a vertical tasting of them to see the differences that terroir and style make on the taste. Do not exit Tokara without tasting the really good Tokara flagship white and red blends. Mr Ferrira’s wife has concentrated on developing an olive oil business on the property. Her oils are excellent and I stock up by the 6 pack when I am there. What is interesting is that they press the different olive varietals separately and sell them separately as well as a blend. It is possible to taste the different varietals while you are there if you ask. However for a superior tasting experience you can book to do a tutored tasting of the oils with a talk at Tokara Delicatessen. Note there are two restaurants at Tokara – the main restaurant which is next to the tasting room offers contemporary winelands cuisine (Fine Dining). Richard Carstens – who is one of South Africa’s award winning chefs is starting with a new venture there in October 2010. The second restaurant is Tokara DeliCATessen. This is a better option if you have kids as it has a play area and is a relaxed outdoor restaurant – they offer light meals (delicious!) and kids meals. Note that the Deli is next door to the main Tokara entrance – you can either drive across or walk through a lovely art pathway through the olive trees. Both Tokara and DeliCATessen are often used to display local contemporary art.
- Thelema – is home to the really talented wine maker Giles Webb. The Stellenbosch property is located on the mountain pass between Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. Consequently they have the ground at different altitudes and facing different directions – allowing them to have hot and cool slopes. As a result they can do really good white and red wines. As such there is a broad spectrum of wines to try from really nice sauvignon blancs, a great chardonnay and their flagship cabernet sauvignon (plus my favourite Cab – The Mint – make sure you try it!). In addition they have purchased land in Elgin (which is a cooler region) and you will be able to also taste wines from that region on the farm under the label Sutherland. Note that this estate is really beautiful – so it is worth a drive in to see the setting!
- Delaire-Graaf – Delaire Wine Estate was bought by Mr Graaf of the London
jeweller fame. He has poured millions of pounds into the property developing a jaw droppingly beautiful restaurant and hotel. To me, this was always the one property in the winelands that offered the most magnificent view – so it is great to see the view maximized! So if you are looking to spoil yourself while you are doing your wine day or for a spot to do a romantic lunch – this is a definite for inclusion. It is well worth a stop here to check out the art and the landscaped gardens. Make sure you book the restaurant well in advance. Note that there is also a second restaurant on the estate called Indochine – this hidden gem has an Asian influence to the flavours and also has jaw dropping views.
- Camberley – great red wines – small family owned estate. Here you get to walk through their little cellar and taste in their quaint tasting room. Tastings are personalized – usually you have this little winery to yourself – so it makes for a magical tasting. It is lovely to find a little gem among the millionaires in the area! It is safer to call before popping in to check if they are home for a tasting tel: +27 21 885 1176. However it is not a far detour off the Hellshoogte Mountain pass – so simply take a chance and drive in if you are passing
- Oldenberg Vineyards – This is a relatively new kid on the block in the region – as such it is not as well known. Half the fun is the drive to get there. The turnoff is just off the Hellshoogte Mountain pass and then you meander through the most gorgeous countryside, before arriving in a hidden valley that is just quite simply jaw dropping! As if that is not enough – the tasting room is worth visiting just for the architecture and the decor – it is gorgeous! To top that the wines are fantastic! Jaw dropping chardonnay and Cab Franc. The Cab Franc 2009 is worth the drive if you are a fan of this varietal! The range also includes a chenin blanc, a cab and a syrah. All really good. This is indeed a Stellenbosch Gem. So if you are looking for something that very few people have discovered – here is the next one to go searching for!! I highly recommend this spot!
Note the below estates are classified as the same wine ward, they are however on the other side of Stellenbosch on the R44 in the direction of Paarl
- Warwick – is owned by one of the first female wine makers in the country – Norma Ratcliffe. She faced the challenge of overcoming the stereo type that all wine makers were men and as such she had a hard challenge setting up the estate. When South Africa wines started entering the overseas markets again after 1990, her Trilogy and Three Cape Ladies were among the first of our wines to get a rating of over 90 points in US Wine Spectator Magazine. Norma has now retired, her legacy of creating great wines continues with Trilogy (called Warwick Estate wine in the US) getting rated as one of the Top 100 wines in the world by US Wine Spectator Magazine this year. Note that the Three Cape Ladies is well worth tasting – it is what we call a Cape blend – any red blend that contains Pinotage (a varietal unique to South Africa) is called a Cape Blend. In addition, they rarely taste their Cab Frank (excellent) – so, if you want to taste this one, you will have to purchase a bottle – which I would highly recommend! Warwick does a delightful tasting outside on their terrace overlooking the dam. This includes the story of the wedding cup, which is their logo. For something different, you can book for their Big 5 Wine Safari – this is a fun little tour of the farm and takes you past their big 5 wine varietals in a 4 x 4 vehicle to the top of the farm for a wine tasting. The views from the top are amazing. Warwick also offers a picnic lunch on their lawn – this is a lovely option for people with kids and there is also a jungle gym, lots of lawn for the kids to run around, games that they can hire such as cricket bats, boullle – etc. Warwick has also started offering a special “dish of the day” on the menu each day – so if you are in the area and need something to eat – you can either get a snack, a meal or a picnic. For the wine safari, it is best to book in advance during summer.
- Laibach – small family owned estate next door to Warwick. Part of their vineyards have now gone fully organic and their organic Ladybird range is really good – so stop for a quick tasting there before visiting Warwick. They are committed to sustainability and as such have initiated projects such as recycling water, introducing ladybirds, a wormery etc!
- Kanonkop – a well established award winning estate boasting excellent reds. Their
pinotage is one of my favourites and comes from old bush vines on the estate. They have a highly rated cabernet sauvignon – but it is often sold out really quickly and not available for tasting once it is gone. The Paul Sauer red blend is always excellent and worth buying and keeping to age. If you arrive and find more then 6 people at the tasting counter – rather back out as they don’t multitask well! So go and check out the gallery and the cellar and wait for it to clear. During harvest season this is a fun spot to stop at as they have a walk way through the cellar where you can check out the open fermenters. If you have a group of 15 or more you can book to do a traditional Snoek Braai here. I have heard that the braai’s are amazing. (Translation: “Snoek” a traditional Cape game fish, “Braai” – what we call BBQ!)
- Beyerskloof – anyone interested in getting to know more about the uniquely South African varietal pinotage needs to ensure that they include a visit to Beyerskloof on their itinerary. In addition they have done a gorgeous make over of their cellar and tasting area and have included a wonderful restaurant called RED LEAF after the red leaf oak logo of the farm. I have personally tried this restaurant and think it is absolutely wonderful. It is a definite recommendation for a long boozy lunch! The food is very well priced and the wine is reasonably priced. I had one of the best steaks that I have had in a long time and my friend had the pinotage burger, which looked amazing! Note this is a casual relaxed restaurant – not fine dining and has been discovered by the students who arrive there in mass over weekends – so if you are after a quiet lunch – this is not it. If you want a bit of vibe – this one is fun!
- Bellevue – head here to continue your pinotage journey – the winemaker here is crazy about pinotage (the uniquely South African wine varietal) Their pinotage wins numerous wine awards every year. A plus is that they do the tasting in their wonderful old cellar – it is a really fun spot for a wine tasting and a great spot to learn more about pinotage (note if you want to do a few pinotages – combine Beyerskloof, Kaapzicht, Kanonkop & Spice Route to do a spectrum of pinotages)
- Kaapzicht – has excellent red wines. As you drive in you can clearly see this is a working farm. The tasting room is no frills and just focuses on introducing their excellent wines. Kaapzicht focuses on reds – the Steytler Pinotage is excellent. They do not always have all of their wines open – so you may have to pop in to taste those that are open – and then stock up on some of those that are not!
- Hartenberg – is one of South Africa’s top wine estates and is famous for its Shiraz – make sure you taste the award winning Stork Shiraz as well as the Gravel Hill Shiraz. Hartenberg was one of the 1st estates to offer picnics and they are well geared towards the picnics with tables in the gardens – so you can chose to sit at tables or on the lawns. This is also a kid friendly environment – lots of room for them to run around and there is a jungle gym. It is good to arrive early for the picnics as it is first come first served for the picnic spots!
- Villiera – offer value for money wines that deliver higher quality then the price point and as such are an absolute favourite among the locals. Their champagne (MCC) is fabulous. They also have really friendly staff and a lovely outdoor seating area for wine tasting. In addition you can also do a self walk tour through their cellar – just ask them to point you in the right direction. This is especially fun during harvest time as you can actually watch the grapes coming in and the presses working. In addition Villiera have a wildlife sanctuary which can be experienced if you book in advance. The Villiera Sanctuary is situated in Koelenhof and access is gained through their vineyards. The game drive through the 175 hectares last about 2 hours. Visitors are guarenteed sightings of a diverse population of antelope (gemsbok, eland, bontebok, springbuck, zebra, as well as other small mammals and birds) On a clear day one has a beautiful panoramic view of the mountains overlooking the Cape Peninsula. Booking essential.