Cape Town Winelands
We do the Stellenbosch/Franschoek/Paarl know as the Inner cape winelands as well as the winelands further afield from the crowded tourist spots.
This page link has day tours and extended stays for the Cape Winelands.
About the Cape Winelands
The Winelands region is an area of exquisite beauty only 40 minutes from Cape Town with rocky mountains overlooking green vineyards, oak avenues leading to elegant Cape Dutch wine estates as well as some of the most charming towns and villages in South Africa.
The main pleasure of this region is the enjoyment of the good life: appreciating the wine and architecture, enjoying long lazy meals in one of the many excellent restaurants, browsing in shops and galleries or taking scenic drives or walks in the surrounding mountains.
is South Africa’s second oldest town, and probably the most beautiful. Governor Simon van der Stel visited the Eerste river valley in 1679 and decided the area was suitable for colonization.
The charming town was established in 1685 and still contains a number of well-preserved Cape Dutch streets. Stellenbosch’s architecture is of simple style and character with white limestone walls, oak-lined avenues and a well-ordered layout.
• Walk up Dorp Street – one of the longest rows of old Cape Dutch buildings in South Africa. Ask the Publicity office for their leaflet ‘Discover Stellenbosch on foot’.
As well as Dorp Street, explore the nearby streets of Kerk Street, Ryneveld Street, Drostdy Street and Die Braak. Or you could join one of the Publicity Office’s walking tours, which depart daily. Perhaps pop in at Oom Samie Se Winkel at 82 Dorp Street, a Victorian-style general store and gift shop or visit the Rembrandt van Rijn Art Museum. Open 0900 to 1245, 1400 to 1700 (Mon to Sat).
• The Village Museum – is a collection of preserved houses that give insight into the lives of the early settlers in Stellenbosch. 18 Ryneveld Street. Open 0930 to 1700 (Mon to Sat) and 1400 to 1700 on Sundays.
• Stellenryk Wine Museum – offers an insight into old methods of winemaking, massive wine vats and other wine curios. 31 Dorp Street on corner of Old Strand Road and Dorp street. Open from 0900 to 1245 and 1400 to 1700 (Mon to Sat).
• Van Ryn Brandy Cellar – has a tour of the brandy distillery, maturation cellar and working cooperage followed by informal brandy tasting. Tours at 1000, 1130 and 1500 Monday to Thursday and 1000 and 1530 on Friday.
• Warwick Estate – Open 365 days per year for informative and personalized wine tastings. Open Monday – Thursday & Sunday from 09:00 – 17:00 and Fridays, Saturdays & Public Holidays from 09:00 – 18:00.
They also offer Gourmet Picnics prepared by one of SA most celebrated chefs at different locations on the estate. Picnics are available from Monday – Thursday & Sunday from 12:00 – 15:00 and Friday, Saturday & Public Holidays from 12:00 to 16:00.
You might even like their Big Five Wine Safari through the vineyards with their ‘Big 5’ grape varieties.
The origins of this charming and beautifully situated village date back to 1688 when some of the French Huguenots fleeing religious persecution settled in the valley, then known as Elephants Corner.
As the settlers increased the elephants ceased their annual migration to the valley, which later became known as French Corner, or ‘Franschhoek’ in Afrikaans.
The French influence is evident today in the ancient wine estates with their French names and in the number of excellent restaurants. It is a small place and can be visited for an afternoon or treated as a base for exploring the rest of the region.
• There are a number of interesting shops, art galleries, antique dealers and craft shops in Franschhoek, and it is an especially good place to stock up on ‘foodie’ delights for later picnics or to take home.
• You may like to visit the Huguenot Memorial Museum, which serves as an information and education centre on the Huguenots.
• Turn left at the top of the Main Road to take the R45 over the Franschhoek pass to Villiersdorp. We recommend that you drive at least part of the way up the pass because it is one of the prettiest passes in the country, with beautiful views down the Franschhoek valley.
Many of the wine estates have beautiful old Cape Dutch homesteads (eg. Bellingham and L’Omarins) but most are not open to the public.
Two of the finest homesteads are open and provide a superb introduction to the history of the early wine-makers.
Cape Dutch architecture is highly vernacular and took the Dutch fashion and adapted it to the Cape climate – the thick white washed walls and small-paned shuttered windows are designed to keep out the summer heat whilst the thatched roofs with their elegant gables kept the houses cool in summer and warm in the cold winters.
Cape Dutch Houses
• Vergelegen – A visit to Vergelegen is essential if you are interested in the history of the Cape, as it was the country house of governor Willem Adrian van der Stel and partly the cause of his fall from grace. This elegant and tranquil estate offers much for the visitor: the Cape homestead, the lovely garden, an excellent restaurant for lunch as well as wine-tasting and cellar tours.
• Boschendal Manor House and wine tasting – This farm was granted to Jean Le Long in 1685. A fellow Huguenot, Abraham de Villiers bought it in 1715 and his family lived here until 1879 creating all the existing buildings.
As with Velgelegen, the 1815 manor house can be visited; there’s excellent wine-tasting at the cellars and a choice of a traditional Cape restaurant or lighter lunches and picnics. Boschendal is on the R310 from Stellenbosch to Franschhoek. The manor house and wine/gift shop are open daily from 0930 to 1700. Wine-tasting is from 0830 to 1630 (Mon to Sat).
It closes at 1230 on winter Saturdays (May to Oct).
Paarl is a bustling old town with a beautiful central oak lined street lined with Cape Dutch houses. Wine growing in the area began in the 1680s as French Huguenots brought viticulture to South Africa. The town was established in 1720 and rapidly became the centre for wagon building due to its proximity to the towering Boland mountains.
However, it is for its role in the development and promoting of Afrikaans that it is now famous. The Afrikaans Language (Taal) monument on Paarl Mountain and the its museum pay testament to this fact.
• Paarl Mountain Reserve – The granite domes, which dominate Paarl, are the largest in the world after the Rock of Gibraltar. The town’s name comes from the granite rock glistening in the sunlight after rain, like a pearl. The nature reserve, which covers the mountain, has a large number of proteas and the Mill Water Wild Flower Garden is a lovely place for a picnic or sunset drinks.
The Publicity Office has a map showing all the walking trails in the reserve. An 11 km gravel road, Jan Phillips Drive, gives lovely valley views and runs up from the KWV building in Main Street to the Taal Monument where you have a panoramic view of the valley.
• KWV Wine Cellars – this huge co-operative winery controlled the whole of the South African wine industry until recently. It is still the largest exporter of wine to Europe and the tours of the vast cellars (covering 22ha) are fascinating. More than 100 different wines and brandies are produced for export.