Cape Wine Tours (Private)

Private Gourmet Wine Tour options:

All of our wine tours aim to introduce you to the Cape’s wine regions – its wines, its history, its beauty and its gourmet delights!  The tours are all private tours and as such they move at your pace and can be chopped and changed to include your interests.  The below ideas are just starting points providing inspiration for your day tour!   It is best to do wine tours from Monday to Saturday.

  1. Cape Wineland’s – an intro to the oldest regions
  2. Cheese, wine & chocolate tour
  3. Going Green Wine Tour of the Cape
  4. Half or Full Day Constantia Wine Tour
  5. Olive & Vine Tour – old regions or off the beaten track
  6. Champagne Crazy Tour

Cape Winelands – An intro to the Cape’s Oldest Regions

On your first wine tour to the Cape we introduce you to the Cape’s oldest wine regions.  The aim of the day is to take a journey through this beautiful mountainous region and to explore the history, wine and architecture of the region.  Be sure to mention what your interests are early in the day as well as whether you are a white wine or red wine drinker.  The answers to these questions will change the direction that the tour goes in during the day.  Stellenbosch is our 2nd oldest town; it boasts oak tree lined streets and gorgeous white houses from both the Dutch and English periods.  This region is renowned as our best red wine region in the country.  Today we explore Stellenbosch and possibly Franschhoek and Paarl – depending on your interests, the routes will change.  Ideas for the day:

  • A visit to Vergelegen – one of our oldest estates – to explore their beautiful gardens and historical Cape Dutch Homestead
  • Wine tasting at some of the Cape’s best estates.
  • A tutored olive oil tasting or a chocolate and wine pairing experience
  • A cellar tour (note that this must be pre-booked well in advance.  Additionally it takes up quite a bit of the day and as such leaves less time to explore the region.)

Note: Lunch will always be booked at a top restaurant in the wine region – unless you request otherwise.

Cheese Wine & Chocolate Tour:

Enjoy a day that celebrates the culinary delights of the Cape’s oldest wine region. Today we start our day with a visit to DV Chocolates in Paarl.  This is a local artisenal chocolate factory where they import cocoa beans from around the world and then use them to make their chocolates. It is fascinating how the terroir effects the taste and attributes of the chocolates! We do a

“around the world tasting” of chocolates and learn about how they are made.Cocoa beans high res

To read more about DV chocolates, click here to read my blog about them.

Highlights:

  • Cheese tasting at an estate that produces highly acclaimed premium speciality cheesesRound the World chocolate tasting board
  • For the chocoholic in you : we can include a wine and chocolate pairing at either Waterford Wine Estate or a chocolate and brandy tasting or a port and chocolate pairing at Muratie or a large chocolate and wine pairing at Hidden Valley estate
  • Wine tasting at some of the Cape’s top wine estates (the ones chosen depend on your wine preferences – please tell us our interests so that we can match you to the wine!)
  • A relaxed lunch at a top wineland’s restaurant
  • A scenic meander through the picturesque wine regions of the Cape

Going Green Wine Tour

As with the rest of the world, our wine industry has started to focus on “going green” and doing away with the harmful practices of the past.  There are different levels of this journey and various estates are contributing in different ways.  Some of the different categories would include:

  • Biodynamic Farming – this involves becoming organic first prior to moving on to farming in tune with the moon cycles.
  • Organic farming – moving away from use of anything harmful in the production of the wine.  Interesting strategies to combat the “pests” include bringing ducks into the vineyards to get rid of snails.  This is a strategy that Avondale wines use to combat their problem.
  • BWI (Biodiversity & Wine Initiative) – this is a movement to move towards
    I love the Ducks!

    I love the Ducks!

    conservation and the promotion of sustainability in the wine industry.  This includes the land on the estate as well as the parts that are cultivated.   The wine regions includes many endangered species of fynbos vegetation.  This vegetation has become endangered due to the heavy use of chemicals in the past on the farms and the fact that steps were not taken to conserve it.  Alien plants have also become a problem in the region.  This movement recognizes

    Caelli gave us a fantastic intro to Avondale

    Caelli gave us a fantastic intro to Avondale

    the risks of becoming fully organic and looks at how a balance can be obtained to create a sustainable future.  It is a membership based organization and a large number of wine farms have now signed the code of conduct.  www.bwi.co.za

This tour stops to visit a couple of estates that are involved in different ways in creating a sustainable future.  Some of the estates that may be included would be: Avondale (organic/biodynamic/biologic), Joostenberg (organic), Laibach (two wines organic), Reyneke Wines (biodynamic), Waterkloof (Biodynamic), Backberg (carbon neutral and champion status BWI), Vergelegen (champion BWI status due to its conservation of the fynbos), Ken Forrester (farms along Organic lines – but when trying to go organic he has his entire crop wiped out.  He also has ducks, which are used to control the snails and then find their way into the pot of his restaurant 96 Winery Rd!)

Most tours manage to visit around 3 estates during the day.

Read more about Avondale and their quest to use a combo of Organic/Biodynamic and Biologic farm practices

Check out a wonderful blog on the biodynamic wines of Waterkloof Estate, written by the Squashed Tomato Blog. 

Constantia Wine Tour (Half or full day)

Note that this tour can be combined to make a full day with a combination of a city tour or after Cape Malay cooking  or one can do: City + Kirstenbosch + lunch in Constantia followed by an afternoon of wine tasting.

Constantia was the estate of Simon van der Stel – one of the earliest Cape governors.  Simon was very passionate about wine and wine making.  As such he settled the area of Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschhoek.  His rightful place in our history is that of the father of South African wine. 

Today, Constantia’s wines are noted as some of our best wines in the country.  It is a particularly good white wine region due to the close proximity to the ocean, which allows for cooling sea breezes.  However, there are some new comers to the region who are creating a stir with great reds and a fantastic Champagne (called Methode Cap Classique in South Africa).  Some of the estates that are well worth visiting include:

  1. Groot Constantia – this estate was established by Simon van der Stel and is well worth visiting to walk around the traditional Cape Dutch homestead and to stop for a cup of tea under the oaks.  A visit here should be the start of your journey as it gives you  a great perspective into the history of the region.  This is the estate that made the sweet wines of Constantia famous around the world.
  2. Klein Constantia –  is most famous for recreating the famous sweet wines of Constantia and launching it as Vin de Constance.   It is well worth a visit to try this desert wine as well as their delicious sauvignon blanc and cab sav.
  3. Buitenverwachting – simply driving into this estate is a treat – it is breathtakingly beautiful.  I am a great fan of their sauvignon blanc as well as their red blend Christine.
  4. Steenberg – this estate has the most dramatic tasting room in the area.  It has been designed to impress with a beautiful large contemporary chandelier as the focal point.  Steenberg is most famous for its award winning sauvignon blanc. Note that the restaurant at the tasting room is gorgeous and offers contemporary bistro dishes in a funky contemporary setting.  In the late afternoon it is also fun to pop in here for tapas and drinks.
  5. High Constantia –  is a small boutique winery offering a top champagne as well as a large variety of interesting reds.  I would highly recommend a visit.
  6. Constantia Glen – boasts the best reds of the valley (in my opinion!), also the best view of the valley and a really quaint tasting room with knowledgeable and friendly staff.   Well worth a visit!!

Another highly awarded white wine region (close to Constantia) is the Cape Peninsula – once again this region gets not only cooling sea breezes, but indeed gale force winds! In fact the wine fraternity were quite sceptical about whether the initial vines would stay in the ground when they were planted due to the wind!  Over the last ten years, this region has proved itself over and over again and won many awards.  As such one of the options is to start the day with a visit to Cape Point Vinyeyards in Noordhoek prior to heading through to Constantia. www.capepointvineyards.co.za

Note that Constantia is a foodie node in our city and boasts quite a few excellent restaurants – as such I would recommend pairing lunch in the area with a wine tour.  Check out my restaurant list for choices. 

Olive & Vine Tour

There are two options for this tour.  Choose between:

  • A tour that visits the Cape’s most historical & oldest wine regions and combines this with South Africa’s most award winning olive oil estate – Morgenster OR
  • A tour that takes you to a secret off the beaten track wine valley – known as the Riebeek Valley.

Which one should I chose?

OPTION 1  Old Wine Regions Olive Tour

If you have never been to the Cape before I would strongly recommend that you chose option 1 for this visit (I know you are thinking this is the only time I am going to visit the Cape – but understand that you are wrong in this assumption! Everyone I know that has said this to me, has been back the next year and the year after that.  Your first

visit is the beginning of your love affair with the Cape).  The reason you need to visit the old areas is that this is one of our most scenic wine areas in the country, it is filled with the oldest buildings, the oldest towns and is quite simply gorgeous.  Your tour will orientate you and show you what the area is like and give you lots of ideas for your next visit.  During the day I introduce you to the town of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek.  Stellenbosch is an oak lined
university town which has a mixture of Dutch and English architecture.  Today it is a university town and has a fantastic shopping area, little cafes and loads of pubs.  Franschhoek on the other hand is tiny.  It is the gourmet capital of the country and you will leave with a list of restaurants that you have not tried – but will need to return to experience.   One of the highlights of today’s tour is a visit to Morgenster wine estate.  This estate is owned by Guilio Betrand – an Italian.  Mr Bertrand decided to retire on this estate – his friends however kept telling him he was mad to not plant trees for olive oil here.  Bear in mind that in South Africa fifteen years ago we were not really consuming olive oil.  During apartheid we were cut off from the world and as such our dining habits remained cocooned from world trends.  As such there was no olive oil industry in this country, just a few pioneers that had started experimenting.  Mr Bertrand decided to bring in the experts from Italy to do tests on the soil, climate etc.  The advice given to him was that he would be crazy not to proceed with planting olive oil trees as the conditions were absolutely perfect.  Morgenster would become the pioneer of the industry.  Today they are still known as the experts and have an open door policy for advice to anyone going into the industry.  They also have a nursery and planting service.  Morgenster has walked off with awards from Italy for the best blended olive oil in the world and win at nearly every competition they are entered into.  When you visit the estate they do a presentation on the history of the estate followed by a tutored olive oil tasting.  This is definitely not for the faint hearted.  Yes, you need to actually smell the nose like you would with wine and then brace yourself and sip the oil.  As with wine, you need to consider what the first taste was and what the effect was! The effect of a fresh oil is that it will make you cough – seriously! The fresher the oil the more you cough.  We taste 5 oils, before moving on to taste their olives.  For those that have only bought olives from supermarkets, you are in for a surprising experience.  These guys cure their olives in salt, the same way the Italians do.  This process takes about a year.  Mass producers find that a year is too long and adds to the expense.  As such they will use all sorts of weird and wonderful ways to soften the olive and decrease the time line.  The result is often a soft or mushy texture to the olive – which is not a good sign!  Once you have devoured the platter we move onto tasting their award winning Bordeaux style red wines.   The rest of our day is made up of your interests – tell me what you like, do you enjoy red wines, white wines, history etc.  My focus is always on small farms and passionate wine makers.  So no, unless you are into big commercialized wine farms – we will go nowhere near them and the big tour buses!

OPTION 2  Off the beaten track Olive & Wine Tour

We head out of Cape Town and into the Riebeek Valley.  I call this valley my secret as very few foreigners have found it.  In fact ask the locals and most have not heard of it either.  As such at each estate you are likely to not come across anyone else visiting unless we are there on the weekend.  Our first stop is at Kloovenberg estate.  This estate was one of the first in the valley and dates back 300 years.  It is owned by Pieter Du Toit.  Pieter focuses on making wine and shiraz is his passion and his wife focuses on olive products.  Some of her products include:  olive oil, olive jam, dried olives, olives marinated in blueberry dressing, olives marinated in  rosemary, various tapenades, olive soap, olive creams …….etc.  From here we would move onto the Olive Boutique to visit Mike & Margie Meredith.  They do a talk on the olive industry in the country and explain the process of making of olive oil.  They are just simply mad about olives and as such also have an extensive range of products that one can try.

Another secret of the valley is that it has attracted a large number of “foodies” and as such it boasts some marvelous gourmet country restaurants.  I think the city slickers decided to opt for a more simple life in this beautiful valley and as such there was a huge rise in the house prices as many people moved into the area over the last 5 years.  As such it is essential that we stop for a lunch in the valley…………..so make sure you do not fill up on all of the olives.  The Riebeek Valley is made up of two towns – Riebeek Kasteel and Riebeek West.  In Riebeek West one finds the estate Allesverloren. 

Allesverloren is home to one of South Africa’s best loved ports and also make an interesting assortment of red wines from port grape varietals.  We will definitely stop for a port tasting after lunch.  The rest of the day is time dependant as to whether we can fit in another stop on the way home……….it depends on how long you have stayed at each place and whether you have had a long delicious lunch!  Note that this tour is best on a weekday and that on Mondays nearly all the restaurants are closed – except one!

Champagne Crazy Tour

This tour is for those of you are just quite simply mad about champers!   Of course many of the estates we visit do not only do champagne – as such you will get to experience some of the wines on offer in the Cape as well.   Note that in the Cape we cannot call Champagne, Champagne!  As such we call it Methode Cap Classique in order to differentiate it from the Sparkling wine!

Some ideas for the day would be:

  • A cellar tour and tasting at The House of JC Le Roux.  Here the tour ends with a demonstration of sabrage and you can do either a nougat and champers tasting or a sorbet and champers tasting.
  • A cellar tour at Cabriere in Franschhoek with a tasting of their Pierre Jourdan range of bubbles
  • A tasting of both local and French Champagne at a small boutique winery in Franschhoek called Colmant
  • A tasting at Simonsig wine estate of their Kaapse Vonkel – this was the first “proper” champagne made in South Africa.
  • A visit to Graham Beck winery for a champagne and wine tasting.  Graham Beck is a highly acclaimed estate with a large range of wines
  • A visit to Villiera for a Champagne and wine tasting

Note – there will only be time for ONE cellar tour during the day and that we usually manage to get to at least THREE estates during the day – the pace depends on how fast you consume the bubbles and also how long you relax and enjoy lunch in our delicious wine region.