If our safari adventure in South Africa came short of our expectation, our visit to the Winelands absolutely took our breath away. We were not prepared for the majestic scenery that greeted us in this region. An easy day trip from Cape Town, the Winelands region boasts spectacular landscape of mountains, wine hills, farms and charming towns dotted with homesteads of beautiful Dutch Cape architecture.
The Cape Winelands is home to some of the earliest European settlements in South Africa. When the first settlers arrived, the governor granted them farms to till for their own needs. Many settlers came from Germany, France and Netherlands, some of whom were experienced winemakers, and found the fertile soil and Mediterranean-like climate of the region ideal for growing vines.
The first wine was produced in 1652. It was a sweet red wine made from Muscadel grapes. Soon after there was a great demand from sailors who stopped by Table Bay. They drunk red wine not only for fun and relaxation but also to fight scurvy.
Today, all major wine grape varieties are grown in the Winelands. South Africa today also boasts more than 120,000 hectares of vineyards that produces about 800 million liters of wine each year.
We visited three of the Winelands popular towns for winery tours – Paarl, Franschhoek and Stellenbosch.
Our first stop was Fairview Estate Winery in the the town of Paarl, which was only about 45 minutes drive east of Cape Town.
Fairview Estate also offers cheese tasting. It is known for excellent goat and cow cheeses that are made in the estate.
A short drive from Paarl is a striking town of Franschhoek where we visited Haute Cabriere Cellar, a winery situated on a foot of a mountain. Our tasting master poured us several kind of wine – sparkling, red and white. Among those we tasted, the pinot one was the most notable.
The town of Stellenbosch boasts of having the highest concentration of wineries in the Cape Winelands.
The winery we visited in Stellenbosch was not the most remarkable but it did offer other delightful things that held our interest.
Our day trip in the Cape Winelands was very rewarding. Our regret was we only went for a day. We definitely would love to return to spend several days, stay at one of its luxe country inns, feast on its famed culinary excellence, explore more of its towns, soak in the sceneries and, of course, indulge on its wine. It makes a great romantic getaway, too.
Even if your not into wine, we highly recommend that you visit Cape Winelands when you travel to South Africa. Its mesmerizing landscape and charming towns will be enough to intoxicate you.