A visit to the Winelands is all about indulgence with the gorgeous towns and surroundings of Stellenbosch and Franschoek bursting with excellent wine estates, gourmet restaurants, and bars. The Winelands are just behind Table Mountain and being only about a 45-minute drive from Cape Town, it is one of the Cape’s most popular destinations!
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The mountain-framed vineyards and the many excellent wine estates of the Winelands make this a wine lover’s paradise. The area has a long history of winemaking which stretches back more than 350 years. There are many fabulous wine tours on offer, however, we decided to discover the Winelands on our own account with a dedicated driver of course 🙂
Our first stop was Zevenwacht Wine Estate, where we indulged in some cheese and wine on their cute little patio outside. The apron with the quote ‘AGE GETS BETTER WITH WINE’ was certainly a must buy before we left and the ideal present to bring back home for a special someone.
For lunch, we headed to golf-icon, Ernie Els’s signature restaurant The Big Easy, housed in a beautiful old building called “The Grand Old Lady” in Stellenbosch. The restaurant, as well as the attached bar, were tastefully decorated with lovely outdoor and indoor spaces and food that did not disappoint either!
Afer lunch we checked ourselves in at Middedorp Manor, a luxury guesthouse in the heart of Stellenbosch. This gorgeous guesthouse first caught my attention when it was featured in one of Conde Nast Traveller’s magazines some time ago. Housed in a beautifully decorated Victorian house with a landscaped garden and outdoor swimming pool it had a lovely welcoming feel to it. The toiletries and room spray which perfumed the whole house in a scent of rose were by Charlotte Rhys and sold in a cute store just down the road where I stocked up on scented candles and pillow spray. We spent the afternoon strolling through the picturesque city centre of Stellenbosch before we indulged in a 3-hour fine dining experience at The Tasting Room in the evening.
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There are so many fantastic wine estates in the region that it was difficult to decide where to start. Most of the wineries offer food as well which makes for an excellent day filled with wine, food and relaxation! Warwick Wine Estate at the foot of Simonsberg Mountain made it to the top of our list. It is a family run winery which became famous for its Cape blends and in particular for the superior Warwick Trilogy, a Bordeaux-style blend which was first released in 1986.
Kanokop Wine Estate is another excellent wine estate, situated on 125 hectares with most of the vines being more than 50 years old – the majority of plantings are Pinotage followed by Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Winemaking here follows an age-old tradition of using open concrete fermenters, however, the barrels are wide and shallow rather than high and deep.
Tokara Wine Estate is set on the crest of the Helshoogte mountain pass with stunning views over vineyards and olive groves. It offers award-winning wines, superb chardonnay, and sauvignon blanc, created with impressive cutting-edge technologies. One of the wines that stood out for me was the Reserve Collection Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc. Making great wines is certainly an art and Tokara has most defintitely mastered it.
Tokara is not only worth visiting for its excellent wines but also for its contemporary architecture, art exhibitions and upmarket restaurant which we would have loved to visit if it hadn’t been closed that day. There is also a deli with a selection of superb premium olive oils made on the estate!