Visiting the continent of Africa is always top of bucket list for the amazing wildlife and outdoor experiences. Many times a visit to Africa will begin or end in Cape Town which is located in the African country of South Africa. Did you know that Cape Town offers beaches to relax at, forests and mountains to explore and lush winelands that produce some of the top new world vintages?
South Africa is a country on the southernmost tip of the African continent. Cape Town is located on the western coast of the African peninsula surrounded by the Indian Ocean. The wet winters and hot dry summers provide a Mediterranean climate, similar to the region of Bordeaux, in France and provides for ample wine production with major vineyards surrounding the city of Cape Town.
Considered a New World wine region, wine in South Africa actually dates back to 1659 when the first bottle of wine was produced in Constantia, a suburb of Cape Town. With time and transportation growth, availability to sell in international markets has put South African wine onto the Viticulture map.
Today you can find about 60 appellations throughout the South African wine system and production happens in production centers located around Cape Town.
Most popular today for red wine production specifically the Cabernet grape and another notable vintage, a cross breed of the hard to grow Pinot Noir grape and the sturdy Cinsaut grape, Pinotage, is the second most planted red grape in the country. Recognized by many growers as the grape of South Africa, Pinotage can be found as a single vintage and also in local blends plus created in many styles; barrel aged, rosé, fortified ports and red sparkling wines.
Chenin blanc (referred to as Steen) is the most widely planted white grape in South Africa and can be found in the western region of the Stellenbosch winelands.
The Cape Wineland district is located in the Boland region of the Western Cape that makes up over 10% of the total land of the Cape Town suburbs of Paarl, Worcester, Wellington and Stellenbosch.
Approximately 30 minutes from Cape Town is the oak-lined village of Stellenbosch, the second-oldest and best known of South Africa’s wine regions. One of the, if not the most, scenically attractive and historically preserved towns in South Africa that was planted in 1679. Today 14% of annual wine production in the country occurs at 17 cellars within the district. Stellenbosch is located 28 miles from Cape Town where the surrounding mountains and coastal False Bay provide an average temperature of 68°F during the summer growing season.
Two recommended cellars to visit while visiting Stellenbosch are Longridge and Glenelly Estates.
Longridge is known locally for their biodynamic and organic winemaking practices. Established in 1841 they have created a vintage of environmentally stable wines without the use of chemicals, pesticides and fertilizers using only natural methods. Their primary growths are Steen (Chenin Blanc), Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinotage. In addition to a Wine Lounge with tastings and vineyards tours, they also feature a restaurant with farm to table South African inspired dishes accompanied by scenic views of False Bay and Table Mountain to enjoy while sipping some of their award winning wines.
Glenelly, just a 10 minute drive from the historic town of Stellenbosch is also an environmentally driven wine estate. The French owned estate features South African wines produced with French growth inspiration with vintages of their flagship Cabernet Sauvignon, in addition to Cabernet Franc, Syrah and a Chardonnay Reserve. A tasting room is available daily (except Monday) with scenic views of the estate and local mountain regions plus a bistro offering a French inspired menu serving lunch daily and dinners on the weekends. The one of a kind privately owned wine museum offers another experience when visiting this lovely wineland estate.
In addition to its connection to wine, the Cape Winelands is a popular culinary center of South Africa where local growers produce olives, fruits and cheese. The Winelands also offers beautiful scenic drives with mountains and many miles of hiking and biking trails for the active adventurer.
The best time to visit the Winelands is between March and May during the South African autumn harvest when the weather is warm and sunny. Summer (November through January) is another popular time to visit the winelands while also enjoying the beaches of Cape Town with warm, longer days.
Experience three days in Cape Town including the opportunity to spend the day in the Cape Winelands before a 10 day Africa wildlife adventure with a Chobe river cruise.