The Mother City and her glorious surrounds are spoilt for choice when it comes to wine farms – but here’s a select list of seven you shouldn’t miss if you visit (or reside) here:
- Boschendal, Franschhoek
With its famous wines, amazing gardens (most especially the rose garden, designed by Gwen Fage. To this day it still features roses cultivated in the Cape and East Indies), gourmet picnic offerings and historic manor house (which you can tour for a small fee between R15-R20), Boschendal makes for a really memorable wine farm visit. Another new addition is guest accommodation in various charming cottages.
The sophisticated country charm and stunning, unchanging surroundings (it’s one of our country’s oldest wine farms) allow you to slow life down for an hour (or several) as you taste quality wines and absorb the classic Cape beauty through this special estate, which has been around since 1685.
- Babylonstoren, Franschhoek
Photo credit: capewine2012.co.za
With a history dating back to 1692, this must-see wine estate underwent a complete revamp in 2007, and is recognised as one of our leading estates, boasting one of the best preserved Cape farmlands.
It offers a Farm Hotel (with luxury accommodation; its suites are built in Cape Dutch style, dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries), a beautiful, eight-acre garden (divided into 15 sections), wonderful wines, the excellent Babel and Greenhouse Restaurants, Garden Spa at the Greenhouse.
- Vergelegen, Somerset West
Photo credit: Kobus Tollig Photography
Its rich history (dating back to the 1700s), visionary owners over the years, glorious gardens and camphor forest aside, Vergelegen is known for making a clean sweep when it comes to wine awards, meaning wine tasting and a cellar tour (which you must book for in advance, as with many other estates) are strongly advised when visiting.
Also, one can enjoy nature walks around its 17 formal gardens, organised picnicking in the camphor forest or dining out at the estate’s two restaurants, Stables at Vergelegen Bistro (particularly child-friendly) and Camphors at Vergelegen Signature Restaurant.
- Spier, Stellenbosch
Established in 1692, Spier is considered to be one of the top places to visit when in (or around) Cape Town, meaning that, nowadays, it is so much more than just a top wine estate.
Yes, it has the usual historical manor house and beautiful grounds one usually associates with Cape wine farms, but it also has a strong focus on art and good farming, offers the Eagle Encounter (where you can interact with or watch the protected resident raptors), Segway Tours through the vineyards, quality service at the Spier Hotel & Spa, the Eight Bistro Restaurant and Deli to Go, Hoghouse BBQ & Bakery, great picnics and during summertime, even an awesome open air theatre.
- Groot Constantia, Constantia
Photo credit: www.grootconstantia.co.za
Cape Governor Simon van der Stel once owned this most historic estate, which is the oldest in South Africa and so a historical landmark. Over the years, Groot Constantia has always produced globally adored wines and today, it offers both award-winning reds and whites.
The farm also has two world-class restaurants in Jonkershuis and Simon’s respectively, an events venue, museum, and several national monument outbuildings. The manor house also forms part of the farm’s fascinating history, as it is believed to have been built by Governor van der Stel during 1666-1727. Visit it for the chance to step back in time, even as you savour their fine wines.
- Nederburg, Paarl
Nederburg is yet another historic estate (which nearly went under more than once – but was revived by passionate, forward-thinking owners and cellar-masters every time) that offers a wonderful, laid-back wine tasting experience. Wander through the manor house or eat out at the Red Table Restaurant, which overlooks its expansive lawns and distant vineyards.
Nederburg also play host to concerts, particularly the annual New Year’s Eve one, and is famous for its personable, former cellar-master, Razvan Macici, as well as some revolutionary and technological cellar innovations (like cold fermentation), which permanently changed the face of South African winemaking for the better and helped to put South African wines on the global (wine) map.
- La Motte, Franschhoek
Photo credit: capreo.com
Once owned by the late Dr Anton Rupert – who acquired it in the 1970s – the farm is now in the possession of his daughter, Hanneli Rupert-Koegelenberg, one of South Africa’s leading mezzo-sopranos.
Much like its motto, “A culture of excellence”, their wines (especially the Shiraz) are certainly excellent, as is the estate itself – and in particularly, its world-class restaurant, Pierneef a La Motte. Oh and while you’re at La Motte, don’t miss browsing the Jacobus H. Pierneef museum, home to the famous landscape artist’s lovely works.
Conclusion: Though there are many other wonderful wine estates to enjoy, from Somerset West to Paarl, these are definitely some of the best (or most historic/popular) to visit when in Cape Town.