The Western Cape is renowned for its unmatched beauty, ocean and mountains. But it is also known for being the Napa Valley of Africa. The Southernmost tip of Africa is home to some of the best wine making land on the continent, and many argue, even the world.
Wine country starts in Constantia, extends to Franschhoek, Stellenbosch, Hermanus, Robertson and as far as the Swartland, where some of the best Chenin Blanc is currently being produced in the country.
But just what do these magnificent pieces of heaven offer, apart from the drink of the gods? Many estates have evolved from mere wine producing land into venues offering a variety of activities and attractions for people of all ages. Move beyond just the wine-tasting experiences, and picture long days spent on the rolling lawns of an estate, enjoying a picnic and sipping on wine.
We thought we would take a look at some of our favourite estates in the Western Cape and let you know where you can visit for a great day out.
If you haven’t already heard of Vergenoegd and their legendary duck parade, you are welcome! This is something you have to witness at least once in your life! Vergenoegd is home to almost 1,000 runner ducks who are let out into the vineyards as natural pest control. The ducks are released and brought back in a grand parade every day, twice a day. Spectators are then encouraged to buy bags of feed for them and are allowed to feed and interact with them.
That’s not all. The estate, which is a short drive from Cape Town International, also offers great days out for the whole family. Saturdays opens to a bustling market, packed with delicious treats, wine and beer tastings and activities to keep the kids happy. Make sure you get there early to not miss the parade! Sundays host Sunday concerts, with some of South Africa’s best loved musicians playing on the rolling lawns to the lounging audience! Make sure you check out the schedule and don’t miss SA’s icons strumming away on the lawns.
The estate also has a world class restaurant, tea, coffee, olive oil and wine blending experiences, daily picnics and family runs on Saturdays.
If you think of wine routes in Cape Town, you simply cannot ignore the beautiful Durbanville Route. Signal Gun is sprawled up the mountain in the midst of wine country in Durbanville and boasts one of the historic cannons used to protect the Cape in its early history. The gun is still in working order and is shot on the first saturday of every month as well as special occasions.
Visiting the estate, you can choose from visiting the restaurant, tasting room or even the on-premises brewery which produces its very own craft beer. Hoogeberg is Durbanville’s very own hand-crafted beer; a hybrid lager, Ystervark and the delicious five crop Bonte Bok. Sundays transform the outdoor area into an outdoor live music haven and while you sip on some of the famous Sea Smoke Sauvignon Blanc and nibble on pizza, you will be entertained by great live acts and musos. The estate also offers game drives and occasionally hosts larger events and festivals. So, keep your eye on their announcements!
Take a leisurely drive out of Stellenbosch, around the winding mountain and to the lip of Franschhoek. Here you will find the classic Solms Delta estate. The estate’s core is centered on the appreciation and recognition of the generations of workers and their culture and sacrifice they made to the estate.
This has been so deeply embedded into the estate that all activities, menus and even the music on the estate reflects the recognition of the local culture. You can find two museums on the premises, one giving a voice to the indigenous and slaves that lived and worked in the area, and the other recognizing the history of Cape Music.
The farm also offers delicious picnics, a restaurant with a uniquely Cape menu, a tasting room overlooking the looming Franschhoek mountains, farm tours, a deli as well as annual events like the ATKV Oesfees which runs in March.
This is, proudly, South Africa’s oldest estate and has been home to some of the countries most iconic winemakers as wines. The Constantia estate is responsible for the historically celebrated “Grand Constance” or as it was called Constantia Wyn. This delicious sweet wine was known, throughout history, to be the preferred wine of Napoleon, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen and Frederick the Great of Prussia.
The estate is now open for visitors to wander around its magnificent original manor house and lawns. It finds itself on the Red Bus route and is the perfect stop for visitors to disembark, stretch their legs and do some wine tasting.
You can visit the Cloete Cellar where the original Grand Constance was created, explore the wine museum and cultural history museum, do a wine and chocolate pairing or simply laze back in one of the two restaurants and feast on the culinary delights prepared by some of South Africa’s top chefs. If a picnic is more your style for a Saturday afternoon, Simons restaurant will be more than happy to cater for you.
Tucked into the Stellenbosch mountains, you will find a little piece of paradise called Devon Valley. Clos Malverne is just one of the occupants in this little nook and shares the region with JC Le Roux.
Not only does the estate look out onto some of the most breathtaking mountains, it also hosts a unique tasting experience that is hard to beat. We have all heard of the chocolate, cheese and wine pairings, but have you ever heard of an ice cream and wine pairing? Well, this will blow your mind. The ice creams have been specially crafted by the estates chef to carefully match the deliciously cold bubbles and wines served.
And if you are thinking Rocky Road and Rum and Raisin, think again! We tried passion fruit, chilli and coconut ice-cream which was matched with with the Sauvignon Blanc Brut which cleanses the palate of the heat of the chilli. The menu is updated seasonally by Executive Chef, Nadia Louw Smith, who is really an inspired and creative genius.
Make sure you visit the restaurant for an out-of-this world palate experience, stay over in the luxury accommodation and take a day off in the spa.
Spier is certainly a household name in South Africa. Not only is it a must-do destinations for anyone visiting Cape Town, but it is home to some of the most well-loved wines on every South African table.
The property hosts a plethora of attractions, so if you are planning to visit, make sure you take enough time to pop into everything. Naturally you can take part in the the world-class wine tasting experiences and then laze on the lawns enjoying a packed picnic. There are also self-guided walks and segway tours for you to explore the expansive farm. Make sure that you don’t miss the Eagle Encounter where you can come face to face with some of South Africa’s most majestic king of the skies.
For the famished, you can choose from Spier Farm Kitchen, Hotel Restaurant, Eight Restaurant or the Hoghouse BBQ & Bakery, well known for its craft beer and delicious pork menu. If you still feel like more browsing, there is a Craft Market, Gift Shop, Spier Artisan Studio and even a spa to unwind after a long morning of wine and delicacies.
While Vergenoegd are known for their ducks, Fairview is notorious for their goats! As you wander into the estate, you will be happily greeted by a tower of goats which is home to these gorgeous four legged creatures. You can’t ask for more. The farm encourages visitors to come and welcome the new babies when they are born and even hosts Goat Yoga on Saturday mornings.
The estates is renowned for their delicious cheeses, yoghurts and various other dairy products. While you are there, you can visit the bakery, the deli and shop as well as the two tasting rooms where you can pair their delicious wines with your choice of cheese. The restaurant is world class and while you graze on your delicious lunch, you can watch the baby goats frolick in their pens.
Just a hop, skip and a jump away from Fairview is the magnificent Spice Route. Here, you will not be at a loss of things to do. The property is host to a variety of attractions including a deli, a various food and clothing artisans, a cafe, a glass blowing studio and gallery, a spirit distillery as well as the Cape Brewing Company brewery.
You can also have your pick of where to dine, but make sure you either book or get in early as it fills up very quickly. The estate’s lawns open up onto the magnificent view of Cape Town spread out in front of it and while you relax in the warm sun, you can feast your eyes on the Table Mountain rising up in the distance.
If a picnic is more down your alley, you can pack a blanket, and sip on some wine sprawled out under the trees on this gorgeous estate. So, fill your weekend with cured meats, chocolates, spirits, spices, and of course, wine and take a mosey out to Spice Route.