Popular Winelands Routes
The Winelands in Cape Town
When one thinks about the magnificence of the Cape - abundant green valleys, rocky mountains, indigo seas and sky - then the Cape’s winelands are usually top of the list. The Cape winelands are some of the most picturesque in the world and wine tourism is one of South Africa’s fastest growing industries.
Traditionally, when referring to the Cape Winelands, you will think of the cellars around Stellenbosch, Paarl, Wellington and Franschhoek. South African wine has undergone an exciting new energy, it has come of age and is now competing on the world wine stage. A whole new creation of winemakers has appeared and there has been a shift from grape farming to wine growing.
There are many wine routes of the Cape, some of which are an easy drive from Cape Town, such as the Constantia, Durbanville, Darling and Walker Bay winelands. Most of South Africa’s vineyards are found in the Western Cape near the coast. The weather is ideal for growing grapes - rainfall measures up to 40 inches a year, the mild Mediterranean weather provides the perfect climate and the ground is mainly sandy and rough.
The Cape’s winelands stretch from the coast to the plains of the Little Karoo.There are currently some 560 wineries and 4 400 primary producers of vineyards in the Cape, divided by the Wine of Origin Scheme into 4 main regions: The Breede River Valley, The Little Karoo, Coastal and Olifants River.
Popular Wine Routes of the Western Cape
Cape Agulhas Wine Route
Most of the vineyards of this, the southern most point of Africa, are found in the little village of Elim. The pretty village is a national monument in its entirety and lies on a peninsular washed by two oceans – The Atlantic and the Indian.
Breedekloof Wine Route
The youngest wine route in South Africa and just 90 km outside of Cape Town, the Breedekloof wine route lies in the Breede River Valley, which stretches from Gouda in the west, McGregor in the south, Montagu in the east and the Tankwa-Karoo National Park in the North.
Constantia Wine Route
Just minutes outside of a city, the Constantia wine route includes five producers, each with a wealth of history and winemaking experience that dates back to late 1600s.
Cape Point Wine Route
The Cape Point Vineyards are still relatively new on the tourist itinerary. It was only in 1998 that the new Cape Point Wine District was declared. They were established in 1996 with the first vines on the Noordhoek wine estate, overlooking Noordhoek beach with the first Sauvignon Blanc vines planted in 1997.
Darling Wine Route
Usually part of the Swartland, Darling is now a demarcated wine district and home to her own wine route, including five wine cellars all of which take advantage from the cool breezes off the Atlantic Ocean and the long, hot summers to produce some delicious wines with concentrated flavour, depth and passion.
Durbanville Wine Route
Some nine estates lie on the beautiful, rolling Tygerberg hills, producing a wide variety of wines. The Durbanville wine route is only 20 km north of Cape Town – so very close to the mother city.
Franschhoek Wine Route
Franschhoek is part of the Four Passes Fruit Route and is just 50 minutes’ drive from Cape Town and the heart of the one of the oldest and most beautiful wine routes in the Cape. It is also just half and hour’s drive from Stellenbosch, Paarl, Wellington and Somerset West wine routes.
Elgin Wine Route
Traditionally an apple-growing region, Elgin lies, surrouned by the Hottentots Holland Mountains, 45 minutes’ drive from Cape Town in the Cape Overberg.
Little Karoo Wine Route
A little astonishing, perhaps - that grapes can grow in a semi-arid area - but grow they do in this region, well-known for its extremes in soils and climate. Despite the low rainfall for the area, viticulture happens in the riverine kloofs and valleys of its dramatically rugged mountains and produces some of the country’s most varied wines.
Helderberg Wine Route
A sub-route of the Stellenbosch Wine Routes, the Helderberg route is only 15 minutes’ drive from Cape Town’s airport and is near the town of Somerset West. These vines lie on the slopes of the Helderberg and combine the influences of both a mountain and maritime climate, producing some very exclusive wines.
The town of Paarl, named so because of the large granite outcrop - the most famous of which looks like a large dome or pearl - lies only 50 km outside of Cape Town and within easy reach of the mother city. Paarl Vintners has earned its place as the world’s first ‘red route’ because of its focus on wines such as Roodeberg, Cabernet Sauvignon, port and Shiraz.
Robertson Wine Route
The longest wine route in the country - Robertson Wine Valley is embraced by majestic mountains in the Breede River Valley and is only 1.5 hours’ drive from Cape Town – in the heart of Route 62.
Stellenbosch Wine Routes
Just 45 minutes from Cape Town, the Stellenbosch wine route is the oldest in the country and represents over 300 wineries. Because of this it is divided into a number of sub-routes to make it easier to travel, namely: Bottelary Hills, Devon Valley Vintners, Helderberg and Simonsberg-Stellenbosch.
Olifants River Valley Wine Route
Olifants River wine route starts at Citrusdal, 180 km outside of Cape Town and meanders along the river for 120 km until it reaches Lutzville and the country’s most westerly vineyards.
Swartland Wine Route
The vineyards lie along the banks of the Berg River and in the foothills of a number of impressive mountain ranges that lie in the Swartland, producing a constant blue and black backdrop to the beauty of the vineyards.
Walker Bay Wine Route
Walker Bay, a 45 minute drive from Cape Town, has become a stylish region to visit, particularly with the establishment of over a dozen wineries in and around Hermanus, already popular for its whale spotting between June and November. The Hemel-en-Aarde (heaven and earth) Valley, just behind Hermanus, has become part of a popular wine farm meander and is definitely worth a visit.
Tulbagh Wine Route
The Tulbagh valley has some of the most natural splendor in the Cape and its wine is in the spotlight currently, particularly due to the string of national and international awards taken by a number of estates and private cellars from the secluded valleys along this wine route.
Wellington Wine Route
The Wellington wine route, only 45 minutes outside Cape Town, is one of the youngest wine routes in the Cape, although the viticultural heritage dates back to the French Huguenots of the late 1600s.
Worcester Wine Route
The Worcester winelands incorporate over 250 years of winemaking knowledge to produce, amongst other cultivars, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chenin Blanc and Columbar to national acclaim.