It’s no secret that South Africa, especially the area around Cape Town, is well known for its wine. You can take day trips from the city or overnight in charming cities like Stellenbosch or Franschoek. There, you’ll find family-owned vineyards where you can see how the grapes are grown, fermented and processed. It’s more than just a learning experience. You can taste wines, dine in impressive restaurants and even spend the night in some. Here are five top vineyards worth exploring near Cape Town.
Jordan Wine Estate Stellenbosch
Come for the tasting room, but stay to explore the grounds in the early sunrise hours. The estate has a popular restaurant overlooking the vineyards, but also luxury suites with modern amenities. This is a working farm, and it’s an entertaining way to explore how wine is made. The menu serves everything from house made cheese and bread baked at the estate to lettuce grown onsite. During the pandemic, the property developed a new “remote work” package that continues to be popular. Coffee or tea, a desk with power outlet and free WiFi give those that want to take inspiration from nature the perfect place to work.
Glenelly Estate Stellenbosch
This modern, family-owned estate has quite different architecture from the more traditional styles elsewhere. A stunning and contemporary structure juts out of the vineyard hills on the lower side of Simonsberg Mountain. Inside, guests can taste wine, dine on the terrace and visit its impressive glass museum downstairs. Be sure to chat with the lovely museum curator who is passionate about the collection. It is not a coincidence, then, that the estate’s wines bear the name of Glass Collection. Favorites include the rich Syrah and fresh-bodied Chardonnay. You can read some of the tasting notes directly on the estate’s website for each vintage.
Lanzerac Wine Estate
In the Cape Winelands, this luxurious hotel sits on acres of vineyards in a series of traditional Cape Dutch-style buildings. An outdoor pool and whirlpool plus a lovely spa with indoor pool and saunas add to the relaxation. It’s easier though to grab a glass of the estate’s many wines. As part of a stay here, all overnight guests are treated to breakfast, a wine tasting, tour of the estate, access to the spa facilities, free minibar (including wine from the estate) and transfers into Stellenbosch.
Warwick Wine Estate
The vines here have been producing grapes for more than two centuries, and it’s one of the reasons, visitors love it. The al fresco cafe has a wide-ranging menu (weekend brunches are a hit). It’s possible to stop in for a tasting or tour of the vineyards, which the estate calls “vineyard safaris.” Guests board an off-road vehicle and explore the agricultural surroundings and bird life. The goal is to explore the “big five,” but not of animals…of grapes! It’s an entertaining way to learn more about wine making while tasting some along the way.
Vergenoegd Löw The Wine Estate
Perhaps the most stunning surroundings with an array of overnight accommodations (many with their own private pools overlooking the vineyards) is Vergenoegd Löw. If you’re lucky, you can score a reservation at Clara’s Barn for the three or five-course tasting menu. Others come here for wine tastings or simply to relax by the pool or in the spa. Complimentary minibars, breakfast and tours of the historic main mansion are part of the deal. You can’t go wrong with a stay here to round out a wine-tasting weekend before returning to Cape Town.
Ramsey Qubein is a freelance travel journalist covering hotels, cruises, airlines, and loyalty programs from around the globe.