Extraordinary Journeys in-country concierge Lauren Garcia has the firsthand knowledge that comes from being a local. When she’s not checking-in with clients on the ground, she’s exploring the best that Cape Town and the surrounding regions have to offer (tough job, right?). Most recently, Lauren explored the Cape Winelands and reported back on the top vineyards to visit.
Note: This list is not in order and the distance is not taken being considered.
1. Delheim – Despite the Cape’s relatively temperate climate, the weather can turn cold. With Delheim’s tastings happening downstairs in the Cellardoor, this spot is perfect in winter or a rainy summer’s day. Bonus: Their Cupcake & Wine Pairing is a departure from the typical experience.
2. Bartinney – The location – atop a mountain with spectacular views – makes this a top destination. There are two venues for tastings – the Bartinney Wine & Champagne Bar (in the town of Stellenbosch) and the Tasting Shed (on the Bartinney Estate). If you can make it there during the limited opening times, the Tasting Shed is worth the trek.
3. Black Elephant Vintners - This one is more work to fit into a Winelands day, but trust us, it is well worth the effort. Offering a fresh take on the wine tasting experience, Black Elephant Vintners features “wine unplugged,” which pairs wine and music. Tastings at 11:00 am (with some flexibility) and last approx. 1 ½ hours. *Booking is a must*
4. Laibach Vineyards – The go-to for organic wine. Close to Stellenbosch, Laibach’s tasting room is an easy pit stop. A unique jetty off the tasting room offers views of distant Table Mountain and the Atlantic Ocean.
5. Muratie – This is one of the oldest wine estates in all South Africa. Perfect for people interested in the history of the Cape Winelands. Muratie has a rich heritage, with plenty of stories and character (not to mention, some world-class wines).
6. Solms Delta – This is the spot for music lovers and history buffs alike. The owner of Solms Delta is passionate about educating his employees. Most of the staff live on the property and are involved in all aspects of the estate, from production to sharing their love of Solms Delta in the tasting room. A small historic museum is attached, providing the history of the estate, as well as a music center and an archeological site. The location – next to a river – is perfect for picnics in the summer.
7. Oldenburg Vineyards – An independent, family run boutique, Oldenburg Vineyards boasts a fabulous tasting room. The environment is tranquil and not in the least touristy. The contemporary architecture compliments the landscape and fantastic views. Enjoy the cozy living room off the tasting room and a VIP vinoteque in the basement.
8. Glenelly Estate – Perfect for people who appreciate French style wines. Situated near Stellenbosch, Glenelly Estate offers award-winning wines alongside one of the largest privately owned collections of rare and contemporary glass in the world. Bonus: If you’re interested in a quick, low-key lunch, check out The Vine Bistro.
9. Waterford Estate – Waterford Estate offers several wine related activities, as well as a more traditional tasting room experience. Special ctivities include: The Wine Drive, the Porcupine Trail Wine Walk and the famous Wine & Chocolate Experience! For those in the mood for a less traditional tasting experience, these are great options.
10. Zorgvliet Wines – This is one of Lauren’s favorite wineries. She says, “Come for the wine, but stay for the ambience.” Perfect for winter or hazy summer days, Zorgvliet Wines has two enormous fireplaces surrounded by plush seating arrangements. And even though it is not set on top of a hill, the views are still breathtaking. Bonus: This place is very affordable and never crowded. (A true local’s hideaway).
11. Peter Falke Wines – This is another one of Lauren’s favorite spots. Peter Falke Wines is best in the summer months. The setting is perfect for lounging in the sun at tables or on oversized beanbag chairs, while the staff waits on you hand and foot. The spectacular entranceway and perfectly manicured lawns makes the space feel classy, and yet, the vibe is still carefree and laidback.
The following are vineyards on all the lists (and for good reason)...
12. Delaire Graff – This stunning (and well-known) estate is situated on top of a hill in the Stellenbosch Valley. You’ll hardly know where to look between the landscapes unfurling below and the world-class South African art collection. For longer lunches, we suggest the eponymous restaurant or Indochine. However, if you plan on continuing and are interested in art, we suggest including Grande Provence and/or Glen Carlou. For an even closer pit stop, Tokara Wine and Olive Farm is just across the road; admire the art on view, and indulge in olive oil tastings or the restaurant for lunch or dinner.
13. Babylonstoren – First and foremost, Babylonstoren is a working farm. More specifically, it is one of the oldest and best preserved of the Cape Dutch Farms. You could spend hours exploring the expansive gardens and the scent shop before wandering over to their glass tasting room. Home to Babel, one of the most popular (read: famous) farm-to-table restaurants in the Cape Winelands.
14. Mont Rochelle Country Kitchen and Wine Cellar – The cheerful restaurant also offers wine tastings and tours of the adjoining 150-year-old cellar originally used as a fruit packing shed for the early settlers. Today, less than 110 tons of grapes are processed in a season. This affords a focus on quality as opposed to quantity. The award winning Miko wines are worth a detour. The vintner can be available for talks and barrel tastings. Lunch at Country Kitchen in an attractive room.