Cape Winelands Tours
Fauna, Flora and Fermentation Private Tour
It’s your move Romeo Private Tour
Half Day Cape Winelands Tour
Full Day Cape Winelands Tour
Whale, Wine and Wors Tour
Classic Wine Private Tour
Meet the Wine Makers Private Tour
Gourmet Private Wine Tour
TASTE THE CAPE LIFE
CAPE WINELANDS TOURS
The Cape Winelands… what a magnificent place to visit. The region conjures up visions of dramatic mountain ranges, endless rolling vineyards, picturesque towns and resplendent Cape Dutch heritage buildings.
A tour of the Cape Winelands is not just for wine and food lovers. It’s for anyone who appreciates the history and beauty of some of the oldest towns in South Africa.
What is the Cape Winelands?
The Cape Winelands is heaven for lovers of fine wine and delectable cuisine. It’s regarded as the ‘Gourmet Capital of South Africa’ and home to some of the finest wine estates and fine-dining restaurants in the world. People travel from far and wide for meals at restaurants such as Reuben’s in Franschhoek which is booked up to a year in advance.
The Cape Winelands is not only a wine-producing area. Some of the finest brandies in the world are produced in the Cape Winelands, and the Cape’s famous export-quality artisan cheese, olives, tropical fruit and organic produce comes from the region.
This incredible corner in the Cape and its cultural landmarks have been added to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List in the Cultural category. The Cape Winelands Biosphere Reserve falls within the Cape Floral Region which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Renowned for its extraordinarily high diversity and endemism, the Cape Floral Region is the smallest of six recognised floral kingdoms in the world.
Where is the Cape Winelands?
The Cape Winelands fall within the Boland District in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. It’s the largest wine-producing region in South Africa and encompasses the majority of the country’s wine producers.
Boland is the Dutch/Afrikaans word for ‘up land’ or ‘higher land’, given to the region because it was the higher ground that stretched beyond the low-lying coastal areas of the original Dutch settlement at the Cape. The Boland is renowned for its striking mountain ranges, isolated sandstone peaks, broad fertile valleys, dense forests and picture-perfect towns.
The region enjoys a gorgeous Mediterranean climate. The summers are hot and dry, and the winters are cool and damp. In very cold winter months, snow often blankets the highest mountain peaks. The ocean breeze blows off the icy Atlantic Ocean which creates idyllic growing conditions for wine makers.
How big is the Cape Winelands?
In terms of tourism, the Cape Winelands is divided into six distinct wine regions. This includes Constantia, Paarl, Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Hermanus and Swartland. Each wine-producing district has an official wine route and offers visitors something unique.
Stellenbosch established the original wine route in 1971. It was the brainchild of three enterprising winemakers from Simonsig, Delheim and Spier and today, is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Cape.
The Big 6 wine routes are only the tip of the iceberg. The Cape’s wine-producing areas extend from the foothills of the Cape Peninsula to the semi-arid valleys in the Little Karoo. Treat yourself to an oenologist’s paradise and take the famous Route 62 from Cape Town to the Garden Route. Covering a distance of some 850 kilometres, Route 62 is the longest wine route in the world.
The history of the Cape Winelands
Cape wine production has its roots in the origin of the city of Cape Town itself, dating back to when the Dutch East India Company established a refreshment station in Table Bay over 350 years ago. The first grapes were pressed in 1659 and since then, the Cape Winelands has established itself as one of the finest wine-producing regions in the world.
It’s been a rollercoaster of turbulent and prosperous years but the Cape’s reputation for producing wine fit for royalty and rulers has held steadfast. As far back as 1815, Napoleon Bonaparte had 30 bottles of Grand Constance from the Constantia winelands shipped to his prison on the island of St Helena every month.
The world can thank Jan van Riebeek who saw the potential of growing grapes in the Cape. The first vines were planted in 1655 in the Company Gardens to provide fresh produce for passing VOC ships. Van Riebeek also planted vines on his farm named Boscheuvel, which is now the suburbs of Wynberg and Bishop’s Court.
Simon van der Stel was responsible for boosting the fledging wine industry when he took over the helm of Governor of the Cape in 1679. Van der Stel set up home on a farm he called Constantia on the lower slopes of Table Mountain and went on to produce wines such as Sweet Constantia and Grand Constantia that were sought-after by European nobles and luminaries. His impressive home on Groot Constantia is one of the most impressive examples of Cape Dutch architecture in the country.
The small hamlet of Franschhoek was established in 1688 when French Huguenots fleeing from religious persecution settled in the Drakenstein Valley. They bought with them their impressive viticulture skills and in just two decades, vineyards had overtaken grain crops in the French corner of the Cape.
Established in 1679 by Dutch Settlers, Stellenbosch is the second-oldest town in South Africa. The first wine grapes were planted by Huguenots in the 1680s, originally for the production of white wine. Stellenbosch has reinvented itself over the years and is now world-renowned for its quality red wines and brandy as well as its white.
The Cape Winelands has had decades of ‘boom and bust’ with the industry experiencing extreme highs as demand for Cape wines soared and then near-economic ruin when disease, oversupply and war threatened to derail the Cape wine industry.
After a season of prosperity, the Cape Winelands has taken a massive knock as a result of the devastating global pandemic. But the Cape Winelands community are resilient and nothing will stand in their way of producing the world’s best wines.
The best wine routes in the Cape Winelands
You’re spoilt for choice of wine estates to visit in the Cape. The city is unique in that some of the best wine estates are located in the heart of Cape Town. This includes the wine estates of Constantia, Durbanville and Helderberg. The wine estates of Paarl, Stellenbosch and Franschhoek surround the picturesque towns.
The most popular Cape Winelands tours focus on the top three wine-producing regions: Constantia, Stellenbosch and Franschhoek.
CONSTANTIA WINE ROUTE
The Constantia wine-producing area lies on the slopes of the Cape Peninsula, at the east-facing foothills of the back of Table Mountain. The vineyards are ideally positioned overlooking False Bay and lie in the path of fresh, cooling breezes that blow in from the Atlantic Ocean. The wind carries with it salt flakes that settle on the vines and help repel powdery mildew and gives the Constantia wines their distinct minerality.
Simon van der Stel founded the first wine farm, Groot Constantia, in the lush valley in 1685. Today, there are 9 outstanding wineries that form part of the Constantia Wine Route. The most impressive and popular is Groot Constantia but make time to see the others. These include:
- Klein Constantia, home to the iconic Vin de Constance
- Beau Constantia, a boutique wine farm with an award-winning restaurant
- Constantia Glen, known for its incredible views and delicious wine, chocolate and cheese pairings
- Eagles’ Nest, producers some of the finest Shiraz in the world
- Silvermist, home to La Colombe, one of the finest restaurants in the Cape
- Buitenverwachting, rich in history and produces outstanding wines
- Constantia Uitsig, for its contemporary wine cellar
- Steenberg, renowned for its Méthode Cap Classique which is one of the finest in the country
STELLENBOSCH WINE ROUTE
Stellenbosch is located in a fertile valley below the Stellenbosch Mountain to the south and the Jonkershoek, Drakenstein and Simonsberg mountains to the east and southeast. It’s the oldest wine-producing region and second-oldest town in South Africa with a 350-year agricultural history.
In 1971, Stellenbosch was the first wine region in the country to establish a formal wine route that represented a network of exclusive wine farms. Today, there are 200 wineries you can visit on a tour of the Stellenbosch winelands.
Stellenbosch is also a vibrant university town and home to the prestigious University of Stellenbosch. The town is famous for its vibrant atmosphere, fantastic restaurants and bars, impressive Cape Dutch heritage buildings and beautiful nature reserves.
The choice of wine estates to visit and things to do in Stellenbosch are endless; ranging from cellar tours, wine tastings, food pairings and blending your own wine to games of golf, biking or hiking in the mountains, nature walks and picnics in the forest.
FRANSCHHOEK WINE ROUTE
Franschhoek is located in a lush valley that lies nestled in the shadow of the Franschhoek and Wemmershoek mountains. The French Huguenot town is home to some of the finest restaurants and wine estates in the Cape Winelands and is known as the ‘Gourmet Capital of Cape Town’.
Franschhoek was established by a community of French Huguenots who fled France to escape religious persecution. The name Franschhoek means ‘French Corner’. The Huguenots settled in a valley that closely resembled the wine-growing regions in France and applied their knowledge of viticulture to establish one of the oldest wine producing areas in the Cape. The Franschhoek valley was also perfect for farming tropical fruit.
The Wine and Food Route and an Artisan Food Route in the quaint French corner showcases the winemaking legacy of the French Huguenots. On a tour of Franschhoek’s wine and culinary world, you’re treated to a tasting smorgasbord of the finest olives, cheeses, charcuterie, artisanal breads and handmade chocolates that the Cape has to offer, paired with the finest wines the valley produces.
Franschhoek Wine Tram: Hop-on Hop-off Experience
The best way to explore the Franschhoek winelands is booking a ticket for the Franschhoek Wine Tram Hop-on Hop-off tour. The ingenious tramway system takes visitors on a choice of 8 scenic routes to wine farms in different corners of the valley where you’re treated to breath-taking scenery, the warm hospitality of the farm owners , fine wines and delicious cuisine prepared by world-class chefs.
You can hop-on and hop-off the Franschhoek tram and spend the whole day enjoying the best that Franschhoek has to offer; from wine tasting and cellar tours to walks and picnics in the vineyards and long lunches on patios overlooking the magical Franschhoek mountains.
Things to do on a tour of the Cape Winelands
The Cape Winelands has so much more to offer than outstanding wine tasting and gourmet cuisine. It’s paradise for nature lovers, outdoor enthusiasts and cultural boffs. The region is rich in history and home to an eclectic community of artisans, artists, musicians, foodies, fitness junkies and fun-loving students.
As a result, the list of things to do in the Cape Winelands is endless. You’re also spoilt for choice of places to stay in the Cape Winelands; ranging from ultra-luxury hotels to charming B&Bs and guest houses in the centre of town or on the beautiful wine estates. The winelands community know how to do things well and how to spoil visitors.
Go on a Village Walk
The best way to learn more about each town is on foot. Stellenbosch and Franschhoek both offer interesting Village Walks and with some advice from the Tourism Office, you’ll have a fascinating morning visiting the old heritage buildings, Church Squares and national monuments.
Browse quaint dealership stores
You’ll find an eclectic collection of shops in the picturesque towns that are a refreshing break from the modern stores at shopping malls. Spend hours browsing in the charming dealership stores for bric-a-brac, homemade artisan goods and secondhand books, clothing and jewelry.
Visit the country markets
Enjoy a leisurely morning wandering around the country markets and tuck into delicious homemade food and homebrewed beverages. The Cape Winelands community are an enterprising lot and your support makes a world of difference.
The most popular country market in the Cape Winelands is Root 44 Market in Stellenbosch. You’ll find an awesome selection of homemade goods, live entertainment and the widest choice of food and drinks from over 50 food traders.
Visit the town museums
The Cape Winelands is rich in history and you’ll find a well-run museum in each of the towns you visit. They capture 350-years of history and showcase the evolution of wine-making as well the characters behind events that shaped the history of the region.
Escape into nature
The Cape Winelands is located in one of the most incredibly diverse and beautiful regions in South Africa. You only need to take a short walk or drive out of town to find gorgeous forests to explore, walking or cycling trails and beautiful picnic spots.
Visit Stellenbosch Botanical Gardens which is the oldest university botanical gardens in southern Africa. It houses an enormous diversity of plants, both indigenous to South Africa and exotic.
Enjoy a walk or mountain bike ride in Jonkershoek Nature Reserve or Assegaaibosch Nature Reserve in Stellenbosch. Both are within easy driving distance of each other. Hire motorised scooters and enjoy a fun day exploring Jonkershoek with family and friends.
Visit the mythical Babylonstoren Gardens, located on the Klapmuts Simondium Road. Set in about 4 hectares of farmland, the beautiful garden has 15 vegetable and fruit tree areas, producing stone and pome fruits, nuts, citrus, berries, herbs and prickly pears. The farm also keeps bees, ducks and chickens. Babylonstoren Gardens was inspired by the historic Company Gardens in Cape Town which supplied fresh produce to ships in the 1600s.
Enjoy a picnic
Picnics are a favourite pastime of outdoor-loving Capetonians and you’re spoilt for places to visit in the Cape Winelands for a gorgeous day out in nature. You can pre-book delicious and wholesome picnic baskets from a wide selection of wine estates as well as bottles of your favourite estate wines.
The wine estates provide hammocks, bean bags or tables under the trees. It’s the perfect outing for families with young children who don’t want to be cooped in a restaurant on a brilliant sunny day.
Choose anything from gourmet picnic baskets to vegetarian, gluten-free and children-friendly picnic baskets. You’ll find in your hampers the tastiest samples of artisan cheeses, olives, breads and jams.
The wine estates in the Cape Winelands who cater to the picnic market include:
Franschhoek Wine Route
Boschendal Wine Estate
Solms-Delta Wine Estate
Stellenbosch Wine Route
Spier Wine Estate
Uitkyk Wine Estate
Delheim Wine Estate
Warwick Wine Estate
Paarl Wine Route
Rhebokskloof Wine Estate
Constantia Wine Route
Groot Constantia, Simon’s Deli
False Bay Wine Route
Cape Point Vineyards
Tuk-tuks and wine tasting
For a Cape Winelands tour with a difference, explore the wine estates in Stellenbosch in a Tuk-Tuk. You’re accompanied by a wine guide who’ll take you to the best wine estates in Stellenbosch and keep you safe.
Watch the duck parade
This is something not to be missed… the famous daily duck parade at Vergenoegd Wine Estate in Stellenbosch. The farm’s ducks are let out daily in the mornings and afternoons and they waddle their way to the vineyards to do the very important job of pest control.
Ride a Segway through the vineyards
Spier Wine Farm offers visitors a tour of their spectacular wine estate on Segways. It’s a divine way to explore the working farm and fun for the whole family. Segways are cool two-wheeled electric vehicles and perfectly eco-friendly for a farm. Glide your way to Spier’s Protea Garden and Biodynamic farming area.
Sample craft beer and gin
The rise of craft beer interest and drinking has been exceptional and the Cape Winelands is almost as famous for its outstanding craft beer breweries as it is for its wine making. The most popular place to visit to sample the finest local craft beer is Jack Black’s Brewing Company, located at The Spice Route in Paarl. Their tap room is a vibey space, the atmosphere is festive and you can grab a bite of something delicious to eat while sampling a selection of their top brews.
Families with young children and many adults too have been visiting Polkadraai Farm in Stellenbosch for many, many years to pick fresh strawberries from their fields. It’s a Sunday tradition that never fails to delight and enthrall the whole family. Polkadraai Farm has loads more activities to enjoy on a fun day out in the country, including tractor and pony rides, mini golf and a massive kids’ play area.
Wander around a sculpture garden
You can spend hours at the seven-hectare Sculpture Garden on Mulberry Farm in Stellenbosch. It’s home to over 60 stunning sculptures created by well-known local artist, Dylan Lewis. The gardens themselves are spectacular, featuring a wide range of indigenous fynbos, buchu and erica.
Visit a township theatre
Connecting people with the cultural heritage of a region is so important when running Cape Winelands tours and one of the best way to experience first-hand the vibrant culture of the local people is visiting a township theatre and watching an amazing live performance.
Amazink’s vibrant atmosphere is welcoming and infectious. You’re guaranteed a brilliant night out enjoying a three-course traditional South African meal and drinks, followed by a lively, interactive performance by local musicians and singers.
INTERESTED IN A CAPE WINELANDS TOUR
MoAfrika Tours offers a great choice of wine tours in Cape Town. We partner with wine guides who are enthusiastic wine fundis. You can join a group tour or book a private wine tour customised to your interests.