South Africa is known for a variety of things, including its unique wildlife, culturally diverse people, and breathtaking landscapes. It’s also known for being one of the top wine-producing countries in the world, with the ideal environment for excellent viticulture in a variety of wine areas. The pinotage red wine grape is South Africa’s most famous, but it’s also known for Chenin blanc and methodé Cap Classique (MCC) sparkling wines. Vineyards may be found throughout South Africa, from the Agulhas coast to the Orange River valley, but the most famous area in and around the Cape Winelands, particularly in the main areas of Stellenbosch, Paarl, and Franschhoek. We look at a few of the greatest selections for every type of wine fan in this article.
1. Best Overall: Boschendal
Of course, picking the greatest vineyard in South Africa is a somewhat subjective endeavor, but Boschendal in Franschhoek is not only one of the region’s oldest (going back to the 17th century), but also one of the most consistently well-loved. It offers something for everyone, set on a gorgeous valley estate with exquisite Cape Dutch buildings. Under the trees, sip award-winning wines, eat a substantial meal at The Deli or dine on farm-to-table gourmet dining at The Werf Restaurant.
The farm shop and butchery provide goodies to take home, while the youngsters are free to run around on the expansive lawns or in the treehouse playground. Regular activities, such as night markets and drive-in movie screenings, are held throughout the year, and you may stay in one of the estate’s ancient farm cottages for a night or two.
2. Best Views: La Petite Ferme
Find your way to La Petite Ferme for the most visually spectacular vineyard experience. From practically every place on the estate, you can see the Franschhoek Valley, which is perched on the slopes of Oliphants Pass in the Middagkrans Mountains. Spend a couple of hours on the terraced lawns drinking boutique white, red, and rosé wines or indulging in seasonal cuisine at the tiny restaurant.
Vine orientation excursions take you into the vineyards for al fresco canape pairings while learning about the farm’s varieties. The sweeping mountain vistas slowly change color as the day progresses into dusk, producing a setting that is never the same yet always appealing. The manor house and vineyard suites at La Petite Ferme also boast breathtaking views, with floor-to-ceiling windows, a private splash pool, and a fireplace for romantic winter evenings.
3. Most Romantic: Delaire Graff Estate
Delaire Graff offers perhaps the most elegant and romantic vineyard experience in the Cape Winelands, with an idyllic setting in the highlands outside of Stellenbosch. It is the ideal venue for a proposal or anniversary, having been designed by renowned jeweler Laurence Graff. In the wine lounge, with its valuable art collection and stunning mountain views, enjoy a guided tasting experience.
The boutique spa pampers with five-star treatments and an outdoor infinity pool with a built-in whirlpool tub, while two beautiful restaurants give a romantic backdrop for private meals. The estate’s luxurious lodges each include a private balcony and heated plunge pool if you wish to stay for the weekend. It’s difficult to think of anything more romantic than having a plunge in the pool with a glass of wine in your hand as the sun sets over the vineyard below. For special occasions, the estate even produces its sparkling wine.
4. Best for Families: Franschhoek Cellar
When you have tiny children in tow, wine tasting can be a stressful experience, especially in locations where priceless breakables always seem to be within reach of little hands. Families are welcomed with open arms at Franschhoek Cellar, which relieves tension. The location is the first advantage. Many guesthouses and motels in downtown Franschhoek are within walking distance of the winery. Then there’s the excellent covered children’s playground, complete with qualified supervisors so you can focus on wine tasting while your kids have fun.
The winery offers a wide selection of superb whites, reds, rosés, and sparkling wines, as well as chocolate and cheese combinations. After that, relax with a relaxed bistro lunch in the Garden, which is located close to the playground and has a special children’s menu.
5. Best for Foodies: Rust en Vrede
Rust en Vrede is another historic Winelands vineyard, with a deed dating from 1694 and Cape Dutch structures that are all national monuments. The vineyard’s fine dining restaurant, despite its history and natural beauty, is the true highlight. In the timeless wine cellar, respected chefs create classic French gastronomy with striking nods to Italian and Brazilian culinary culture using the best local, sustainable produce.
A six-course menu with sommelier-guided wine pairings or the unique Experience Menu is available to diners. The latter is custom-made for you on the day, with dishes kept hidden until they are presented. In the cellar Tasting Room, Rust en Vrede also offers guided wine tastings, which can be paired with a simple but delicious winemaker’s lunch of steak or salmon.