The splendour of the Cape winelands, and specifically Stellenbosch just has to be seen to be believed. Lush green valleys littered with vineyards as far as the eye can see, interrupted by Mountains on one side and the sea on the other. World class cuisine is interwoven with local delicacies, served up with a vast array of delicious wines. There is something for everyone in this vinous paradise. In this series of blogs, we will highlight some of the top South African wineries and cellar door experiences that should be at the top of your adventure list to this little patch of heaven on earth.
Kanonkop Wine Estate: Located in Stellenbosch, Kanonkop Wine Estate is one of the most iconic wineries in South Africa. To many, Kanonkop is considered to be the South African equivalent of a Premier Cru or First Growth. For others, it is a place of natural beauty where hospitality, family values, tradition, history and interesting characters are as integral to their ability to create magnificent wines as the ancient decomposed granite soils, the cool air from the Atlantic Ocean and the old dryland vineyards. On arrival at the winery, you maybe lucky to be greeted by the most beautiful pair of Red Setters. If not, the amazing Kanonkop team will make you feel at home instantly. This iconic winery offers visitors a unique opportunity to explore the beautiful South African wine region and experience some of the world’s finest wines. Here are some of the top attractions to enjoy when visiting Kanonkop Wine Estate.
Top things to do:
- Wine! Kanonkop Wine Estate is known for its award-winning Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux-style blends. Taste their flagship wine, Kanonkop Paul Sauer, which is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. The recently refurbished tasting room is cozy and inviting, with knowledgeable staff ready to guide you through the tasting experience.
- Cellar Tour: Take a cellar tour to learn about the winemaking process and the history of Kanonkop Wine Estate. The tour includes a visit to the estate’s barrel cellar, where you can see the oak barrels used to age the wine.
- Art Gallery: Established in 2008 it pays tribute to Mary Krige’s love for art. “Tannie Mary”, as she was affectionately known, was the mother of current owners of Kanonkop Wines, Johann and Paul Krige. The gallery serves as a platform for local artists to display their work. Hosted in one of their oak maturation cellars. Open weekdays from 9am – 5pm, and Saturday from 9am – 2pm.
- Vineyard Walk: Take a walk through the estate’s vineyards and enjoy the stunning views of the surrounding mountains. The vineyard walk is a great way to learn about the estate’s sustainable farming practices and get a closer look at the vines.
- The Paul Sauer cellar / function venue: Available for private functions. This is where Kanonkop’s famous lunch and dining experience is presented: the traditional snoek braai (barbeque), which has been a part of local food culture for centuries.
Overall, visiting Kanonkop Wine Estate is a must-do activity when exploring South Africa’s wine regions. With its beautiful setting, exceptional wines, and unique experiences, Kanonkop Wine Estate is sure to leave a lasting impression.
We did a complete blog on Kanonkop Wines, to read it click here
Meerlust Wines: Meerlust Wines (meaning ‘pleasure of the sea’) has been in the Myburgh family hands since 1756. This beautiful estate has it all, being blessed with attractive Cape Dutch architecture, beautiful vineyards & an enviable pedigree. It is an iconic winery that has been producing exceptional wines for years and offers visitors a unique opportunity to experience the beauty of the South African wine country. On top of this all, Meerlust produces some of the best Bordeaux-style blends in South Africa.
Top things to do:
- Taste their iconic Bordeaux-style blend, Rubicon. This is the wine that single handily put South African wine on the world map
- Garden Tour: Take a tour of the estate’s beautiful gardens, which include a rose garden, a formal herb garden, and a vegetable garden. The gardens are designed to complement the historic manor house and provide a tranquil setting for visitors to enjoy.
- Take a tour of the manor house and learn about the history of the estate.
We did a complete blog on Meerlust Estate, to read it click here
Warwick Wines: Situated in the foothills and mid-slopes of the Simonsberg Mountain, with altitudes ranging from 240 to 360 metres above sea level, Warwick Wine Estate carries all the elements required to make world-class wine. It was in 1964 that the Ratcliffe Family arrived on the scene, and it took winemaker Norma Ratcliffe, alongside her husband Stan, twenty years before they released their first wine. Warwick’s La Femme Bleu Cabernet Sauvignon was released in 1984, after which the estate went on to bottle the first ever ‘Cape Blend’ in the world, won multiple international wine awards, appeared on some of the planet’s most prestigious wine lists, and even became a wine of choice for James Bond in one of his many adventures. In many senses, the Warwick Estate brand that you know today was developed the same way one might nurture a grape vine; through decade upon decade of careful planning, pruning and persistence
Top things to do:
- Wine Tasting: The wine tasting experience at Warwick Wine Estate is one of the main attractions. You can sample some of their award-winning wines like the Warwick First lady Pinotage and the Warwick Trilogy while enjoying the picturesque view of the vineyards.
- Cellar Tours: The Warwick Wine Estate offers cellar tours that give visitors an insight into the winemaking process. The knowledgeable staff takes you on a guided tour of the winery, explaining the different stages of wine production, a true hands-on experience.
- The Wine Garden: The wine garden is a beautiful outdoor space where you can relax with a glass of wine and enjoy the views of the vineyards and a picnic basket filled with fresh baked breads, homemade spreads and cheeses paired with a glass or bottle of wine. The garden is also a popular spot special event.
- Vineyard Safari: Great wine is made in the vineyards. Which is why trained safari guides will show you where the magic happens. Groups of up to eight can enjoy an open-top tour through their ‘big five’ vineyards (the grapes, not the animals), with MCC along the way. It’s also great for families, as the tour includes non-alcoholic options and soft drinks for the kids.
- Harvest Table: Enjoy their new culinary experience with a selection of warm and cold dishes served to the table in a series of 4 courses. Their Harvest Table is served in their majestic forest courtyard with rays of sunlight filtering through the beautiful oak trees. Book the Harvest Table for a sharing feast with friends and family.
We did a complete blog on Warwick Wines, to read it click here
Tokara Wine: If you love good food, great wine, and unparalleled views, clear your schedule and escape for a day to Tokara. Nestled on the upper slopes of the Simonsberg mountain, their vineyard and olive grove overlook two of mother nature’s most awe-inspiring sights, False Bay and Table Mountain.
Because of our unique location, the climate, geography and soils combine to produce perfect grapes. These grapes are then hand-picked and gently transported to our state-of-the-art cellar, where our exceptionally skilled winemakers transform the fruit into award-winning Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc wines.
But the proof is in the tasting. If you love food, spectacular views, world-class wine, and award-winning olive oil, it can only be Tokara
Top things to do:
- Wine Tasting: The wine tasting experience at Tokara Estate is one of the main attractions and for very good reason. You get the opportunity to sample some of their award-winning wines while enjoying the stunning views of the Simonsberg mountain range and vineyards. The staff in the tasting room are some of the most knowledgeable you will find and have a true passion for the brand and for wine.
- Olive Oil Tasting: Tokara Estate also produces high-quality olive oils, and visitors can participate in an olive oil tasting experience to sample and learn about the different types of olive oils.
- The Delicatessen: The estate’s Delicatessen offers a range of artisanal foods, including cheeses, charcuterie, and freshly baked bread. Visitors can enjoy a light lunch or snack while taking in the beautiful views of the vineyards and tasting the array of wines.
- The Restaurant: The Tokara restaurant is a popular fine-dining spot that serves contemporary South African cuisine paired with Tokara wines. The produces used in the restaurant is locally sourced from the local farmers and the chefs then turn that into tempting delights. The restaurant has also won multiple awards for its food and wine offerings.
- Art Exhibitions: Tokara Estate has a contemporary art gallery that showcases works from local and international artists. The exhibitions change regularly, and visitors can view and purchase art pieces while enjoying the beautiful surroundings.
- Vineyard Walks: The estate offers guided vineyard walks that allow visitors to learn about the different grape varieties and the winemaking process while taking in the stunning scenery.
- Wine Cellar Tours: Tokara Estate offers guided tours of their state-of-the-art wine cellar, where visitors can learn about the different stages of the winemaking process and see where the wines are aged.
Overall, Tokara Estate is a beautiful and luxurious destination that offers a range of activities for visitors to enjoy, from wine and olive oil tastings to fine dining and art exhibitions. It is a must-visit destination for any wine lover or tourist visiting Stellenbosch, South Africa.
Boekenhoutskloof Wines: Boekenhoutskloof was established in 1776. Located in the furthest corner of the beautiful Franschhoek valley, the farm’s name means “ravine of the Boekenhout” (pronounced Book-n-Howed). Boekenhout is an indigenous Cape Beech tree greatly prized for furniture making. As a wine producer, Boekenhoutskloof is a Syrah specialist, with its premium Boekenhoutskloof range selling out on release each vintage, and The Chocolate Block – a Syrah based blend – is probably the most successful new wine offering to come out of South Africa in the modern era.
The Wolftrap brand of blended Rhone-style wines was inspired by the pioneering spirit of the early settlers who built what is now a monument to their adventurous spirit. The Porcupine Ridge range of delicious, everyday wines is a firm favourite on tables throughout the world – offering great value and superb drinking.
In 1993 the farm and homestead was bought and restored and a new vineyard planting programme was established that now includes Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Grenache, Semillon and Viognier.
Top things to do:
- Wine Tasting: Boekenhoutskloof offers a range of tastings of their award-winning wines, including their iconic Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. Wine tastings are by appointment only so be sure to make a booking. On the day, their winemaker walks all visitors through their winery facility which is accessible by stairs and hosts the wine tasting as a group. This is a communal, intimate experience with all guests sitting around one large table.
- The Winery Tour: Boekenhoutskloof offers a guided tour of their winery where visitors can learn about the winemaking process and see the various stages of production.
Rust and Vrede Wine Estate: The official date on the Title Deed of Rust en Vrede is March 12th, 1694. The property was granted by the Governor of the Cape, Simon van der Stel. The beautiful Cape Dutch buildings on the property date back to 1780, and today, they all have National Monument status. They are living history, used on a daily basis – family still live in the Manor house where they grew up, and the original winery is now the Rust en Vrede Restaurant.
Jannie and Ellen Engelbrecht, acquired Rust en Vrede in 1977 and immediately embarked on a full restoration of the Estate. First, they restored and equipped the original winery, and in 1978 Jannie made the first vintage of the modern era. An extensive vineyard re-planting also took place, focusing on Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot. Over the years, the Rust & Vrede wines have gone from strength to strength, and today it is a renowned name in the South African wine industry and around the world.
Top things to do:
- Wine Tasting: Rust en Vrede’s full range of wines are available for tasting at their Tasting Room in the Rust en Vrede cellar. Tastings are guided by our friendly and knowledgeable tasting room staff, who can also take you on informal tours of our underground cellar. Combine your wine tasting with their renowned Winemaker’s lunch, a simple set menu of either steak or salmon accompanied by a glass of wine. The perfect way to spend a winelands afternoon under the oaks.
- The Restaurant: Since opening in 2007, the Rust en Vrede Restaurant has shaped the way they think about wine and food. Their aim is to show guests how a dining experience can be heightened by the combination of outstanding wine with excellent food.
The restaurant is also housed in the Estate’s original wine cellar, a historic monument which has been transformed into a sophisticated yet relaxing fine-dining setting. They have done their best to preserve the unique charm of the building so that guests are transported back to simpler times, where good wine and food are central to the experience. This is a must-do do when visiting.
- Gallery: The well-established Rust-en-Vrede Art Gallery showcases works of art by established and emerging artists. The Gallery also initiated and hosts the Sanlam Portrait Award every second year.
- The Wine Cellar: Rust en Vrede’s wine cellar is housed in a historic Cape Dutch building and offers guided tours that take visitors through the winemaking process from grape to bottle. South Africa has a rich wine history, and these wineries are just a few of the many fantastic options to explore. With a focus on sustainability and quality, South African wineries are gaining recognition around the world for their exceptional wines and unique experiences.
So, the next time you find yourself in South Africa, be sure to visit these top wineries and experience the beauty of the region, one glass at a time.
- Rust & Vrede Wine Esate
- Boekenhoutskloof Wines
- Tokara Wine Estate