The Cape winelands offer award-winning bouquets, rich history and spectacular mountain scenery.
The Cape winelands form part of a region 40 minutes from South Africa's Mother City of Cape Town. The area, divided into six main wine regions, is the largest wine-producing region in South Africa. Each stretch offers its own unique wine route.
|Main Routes||Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Paarl|
|Other Routes||Wellington, Constantia, Robertson|
|Year Established||1685 (Constantia Estate)|
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The Franschhoek Wine Route is characterized by an inherent French flair. The town itself is rich with Huguenot history and it is South Africa's unofficial food and wine capital. Be sure to visit one of the award-winning restaurants in this charming town.
The Paarl Wine Route is known for the popular Nederburg Wine Estate, the much-loved Fairview Wine and Cheese Farm and the KWV Wine Emporium, home to the largest wine cellar in South Africa.
The Stellenbosch Wine Route is South Africa's oldest wine route and surrounds the country's second oldest town. Some of South Africa's finest wines are cultivated in this scenic region.
The wine is certainly the most obvious reason to visit the Boland - a reason entirely with merit. With so many fine award-winning bouquets and uniquely South African blends to choose from, even the most discerning connoisseurs will find themselves delighted by the variety and the impeccable quality on offer. South Africa's wine culture is both traditional and dynamic, ensuring a complement for every palate.
An established and respected viticulture has fostered an equally revered food culture, which extends from imaginative, fresh, market fare to fine dining restaurants festooned in awards. The Boland is the epicurean capital of South Africa, and you need not venture far from your accommodations to find something mouthwatering and memorable.
With their handsome Cape Dutch architecture and bucolic surroundings, the historic hamlets of the Cape winelands hold all the charm of yesteryear. After Cape Town, Stellenbosch is the second oldest settlement in the country, while Franschhoek's Huguenot legacy has been indelibly fixed in the town's tidy little streets, elegant structures and romantic atmosphere.
A great deal of the allure of the winelands is owed to the spectacular natural setting. Not only are the towns and the vineyards wonderfully picturesque in themselves, they are augmented by a backdrop of dramatic mountain scenery. The avid outdoorsman may also indulge in hiking or horse riding while visiting the Boland.
The Cape winelands are easily accessible via Cape Town International Airport, which is around an hour's drive from the various towns in the Cape winelands. Cape Town International receives flights from all across the world on a daily basis, along with regular domestic flights from Johannesburg and the Kruger Park area.
From Cape Town, the winelands towns are between 40 minutes and an hour's drive from the city. If traveling from the Garden Route, the trip is typically between four and five hours, depending on whether you opt for Route 62 through the Little Karoo or the N2 highway through the pastoral Overberg.
As your activities will largely be centered around tasting and dining, the Cape winelands is a year-round destination. Like Cape Town, the region sports a Mediterranean climate with dry, sunny summers (October to March) where average temperatures are warm to hot. In some regions, it can reach 40°C (104°F). While you can still enjoy delectable tastings, the peak of summer (January and February) can be stifling in the winelands if there is no wind.
Winters (June to August) can be cool, with average minimum temperatures around 5°C (41°F) and maximums around 17°C (63°F). There are still, however, warm, sunny days throughout this period. Rainfall is frequent, with occasional dustings of snow on higher peaks. Do not let the winter rainfall deter you - the rains are typically light drizzles, almost shrouding the winelands in an ethereal mist which can be quite lovely to behold.
The Cape winelands are located in a malaria-free part of South Africa, which means that the only medical considerations you should keep in mind are to ensure that your routine vaccinations are up to date and that you bring along any prescription medication that you might be taking.
Crime rates in the Boland are relatively low, and it is actually rather pleasant to walk along the main street of Franschhoek at night, with all the restaurants festively lit up for dinner. Nevertheless, avoid quiet areas after dark, and follow the advice of your guide.
Your private, air-conditioned vehicle and personal African Sky guide come in real handy during tours of the Cape winelands. Sup at your leisure on South Africa's finest and discover the most arresting vineyards without worrying about how to get from one tasting to the next.
The vehicles we typically use during our tours in the Western Cape are a Toyota Fortuner (for couples or solo travelers) and a Hyundai H1(a spacious alternative for families and small groups). Occasionally, during periods of high demand, we employ the services of a reputable car rental agency.
All the vehicles that we make use of are maintained to a high standard and are licensed to carry passengers. Your comfort and safety during your travels are paramount to us.
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Wine production in South Africa dates back to the very earliest days of European settlement. The first recorded vintage was produced back in 1659 by none other than Jan van Riebeeck, the founder of the Cape Colony. The baton was taken up enthusiastically by his successor Governor Simon van der Stel, who founded the Constantia Estate on the Cape Peninsula in 1685. Constantia soon became known internationally for its "Vin de Constance" a favorite tipple of Jane Austen, Frederick the Great and Napoleon.
Wine production spread to the interior of the Western Cape with the arrival of the French Huguenots in the late 17th century. Country towns founded during this period, such as Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl, remain at the heart of South Africa's wine industry to this day, and the region's historic vineyards - the likes of Boschendal, Vergelegen, Nederberg and Meerlust - are still widely regarded to produce the country's finest wines.
Stellenbosch was founded in 1679 by the Dutch Governor Simon van der Stel. The architectural jewel is the second-oldest town in South Africa, and lies at the heart of the winelands. It is known for its university, the first Afrikaans-language institution of higher education to have been established anywhere in the country, and for having the largest number of Cape Dutch houses of any town in the region. The most harmonious examples are to be found on Dorp, Church and Drostdy streets.
Franschhoek (or "French Corner") is named for the the French Huguenots who settled here in the 18th century. The Huguenot Museum and the Huguenot Monument, completed in 1943, recall the history of these Protestant refugees, persecuted by Louis XIV because of their religious beliefs. Blessed with perhaps the most perfect setting of any winelands town, Franschhoek is an ideal place to settle in for an alfresco lunch at one of its many superb restaurants.
Paarl (Afrikaans for "pearl") is named for the polished granite domed mountain that rises behind in. Founded in 1720, Paarl feels rather dour and unattractive by Boland standards, but its wine route includes some of the finest vineyards and several first-class restaurants. On the southern slope of the Paarl Mountain you will find the centerpiece of the Afrikaans Taal (Language) Monument, a slender granite needle erected in 1975 to commemorate the centenary of Afrikaans being recognized as an official language.