The Wine Lands of South Africa

An easy drive from Cape Town, the Cape Winelands offer great wine, food and scenery.

By Sarah Khan

One of the highlights of a visit to Cape Town, South Africa, is a jaunt—a night or two, perhaps, or at the least an afternoon—to the Cape Winelands, an hour’s drive from the heart of the city. As summer turns to fall in South Africa, the Winelands towns of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek are at their most charming. Here’s how to do them right.

Stellenbosch

Stellenbosch is the second-oldest European settlement in South Africa. Streets with melodic names like Andringa, Ryneveld and Drostdy are shaded by stately oak trees and lined with whitewashed Cape Dutch–style manses. Stroll to local institution Schoon de Companje, an old-world bakery with delicious coffee and creamy scrambled eggs. Wine is a major draw here, of course, so you may be inclined to stay in one of Stellenbosch’s famed vineyards instead of in town. Delaire Graff, the passion project of diamond magnate Laurence Graff, is arguably the most beautiful wine farm in the area and one of the most luxe: Graff’s priceless art collection adorns the public spaces. The estate’s wine lounge looks over the breathtaking Helshoogte mountain pass. Sample Delaire’s sauvignon blanc, chardonnay or merlot or its top vintage, the spicy Laurence Graff Reserve. And since Stellenbosch is home to four of South Africa’s top 10 restaurants—Jordan, Overture, Terroir and Rust en Vrede—you’re sure to eat well between tastings. Each is set on a separate wine estate, so you’ll sample your way through some of the region’s best bottles along with your dinner.

Franschhoek

Founded in the late 17th century as a haven for French Protestant refugees, Franschhoek retains a definite Gallic flavor. If you’re around in July for the town’s lively annual Bastille Festival, you can experience it for yourself. Here Boschendal Wine Estate recently unveiled seven farm cottages on its postcard-worthy grounds. Book a vineyard tour and follow it with a tasting in the estate’s oldest building, where you can pair shiraz, rose or chenin blanc with chocolate. In town, the award-winning Tasting Room, one of the country’s premier restaurants, is where chef Margot Janse dazzles patrons with inventive eight-course tasting menus incorporating distinctly African ingredients. Another chef to keep an eye on is Chris Erasmus, who recently opened his foraging-heavy Foliage on the town’s main drag. For a break from wining and dining, Huguenot Road is home to plenty of chic boutiques; pop into Indian Summer for airy summer frocks or Masquerade for housewares and whimsical antiques.

THE DETAILS
Bastille Festival
franschhoekbastille.co.za; July 11–12, 2015
Boschendal Wine Estate
Pniel Rd., Groot Drakenstein, Franschhoek; 011-27-21-870-4200; boschendalwines.com; lodges from $277* a night
Delaire Graff
Helshoogte Pass, Stellenbosch; 011-27-21-885-8160; delaire.co.za; lodges from $566 a night
Foliage
11 Huguenot Rd., Franschhoek; 011-27-21-876-2328; foliage.co.za; dinner for two, $43
Indian Summer
50 Huguenot Rd., Franschhoek; 011-27-21-876-2992; indiansummer.co.za
Jordan Stellenbosch
Kloof Rd., Vlottenburg, Stellenbosch; 011-27-21-881-3441; jordanwines.com; dinner for two, $54
Masquerade
1 Kruger St., Franschhoek; 011-27-21-876-3944; masquerade.co.za
Overture
Hidden Valley Wines, Annandale Rd., Stellenbosch; 011-27-21-880-2721; dineatoverture.co.za; dinner for two, $67
Rust en Vrede
Annandale Rd., Stellenbosch; 011-27-21-881-3757; rustenvrede.com; dinner for two, $118
Schoon de Companje
7 Church St., Stellenbosch; 011-27-21-883-2187; decompanje.co.za
Tasting Room
Corner Berg and Wilhelmina Sts., Franschhoek; 011-27-21-876-2151; lqf.co.za; dinner for two, $147
Terroir
Kleine Zalze, Strand Rd. (R44), Stellenbosch; 011-27-21-880-8167; kleinezalze.co.za; dinner for two, $65
  • *Prices have been converted to U.S. dollars. Estimated meal prices do not include drinks, tax or tip.
  • NOTE: Information may have changed since publication. Please confirm key details before planning your trip.
  • Published: March 2015