Take the road less travelled…
This humble town (founded in 1840) and its generations-old tradition of winemaking has many thinking it hasn’t developed with the times… They couldn’t be more wrong. It’s the birthplace of chocolate pinotage, as well as a white (!) pinotage, plus an entirely new varietal (a first in South Africa). That’s pretty innovative in our books…
Also, owing to its greenhouse-like climate, Wellington is home to 80% of the vine nurseries that supply the entire South African industry with grafted rootstock – hence its moniker, “The Cradle of Wine”. These folk know what they’re doing.
That’s even before mentioning everything else Wellington has going for it: settings and views that draw you in to linger longer, dog-friendly hiking trails, kid-friendly activities and offerings, beautiful places to rest your weary wine-filled head, and delicious food.
Its slow-paced, hospitable and intimate approach is a much-needed antidote to the stress of modern life and the larger wine routes nearby. Whether you’re planning a day trip or weekend stay, read on to discover the best of the Wellington Wine Route. Booking is essential.
What’s your favourite spot? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
Bosman Family Vineyards
The Bosman family have been vine growers for eight generations, and this farm exudes history. The Tasting Room, part of the original 270-year-old cellar, welcomes visitors with beautifully kept gardens and handcrafted wines. Oenophiles will be amazed to discover the new-to-SA varietal, Sicilian Nero d’Avola, and Fides, an orange wine made with skin-on white grenache grapes – alongside cabernet, cinsaut, a chenin cap classique and the Optenhorst very-old-vine chenin blanc. Weekday visitors can wander through the ancient cellar “museum” – if you look down through a framed patch of glass flooring, you’ll see where the old wine vats once stood.
The food Dalewood cheese platters and bitterballen to accompany the wine-tasting.
Stay Vineyard Cottage (sleeps 2) has a splash pool and vine-covered front and back porches with spectacular views.
Cost Wine-tasting: R100 (5 wines); R200 (5 premium wines)
Opening times Monday – Thursday, 9am – 5pm
Friday, 9am – 4.30pm
Saturday, 10am – 4pm
Contact 021 873 3170, email@example.com
Where to find it Lelienfontein Farm, Hexberg Road, Wellington
This view-drenched estate (the name means “admiration for” in isiXhosa) is perfect for family outings, with plenty of seating space indoors and out, plus a large jungle gym and grassed area for the kids. Nab a seat on the verandah and taste the range (there are five different labels) covering reds, whites, rosé and a cap classique. Or embark on a pairing: wine with gourmet pies, or spritzers with macaroons. If you do a blind tasting and guess correctly, you can win a wine hamper.
The food The famous pies can be ordered without the wine pairing (and with a side salad). Imbuko is also known for decadent milkshakes and farmhouse toasties, plus there is a cheese platter option.
Good to know The estate hosts the annual Imbuko Big 5 MTB Challenge, an internationally rated hill-climbing race (next up: 17 February 2024).
Cost Wine-Tastings: R40 – R95 (3 to 5 wines)
Opening times Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm (kitchen closes 3.30pm)
Saturday + public holidays, 9am – 3pm (kitchen closes at 1.30pm)
Contact 021 873 7350, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it Uitkyk Farm, Bo-Dal Road, Wellington
Diemersfontein Wine & Country Estate
It’s the home of the first coffee-chocolate pinotage (definitely worth the drive), but there’s so much more to Diemersfontein than that! What started as a family retreat for the Sonnenbergs in the 1940s is now a wine-tasting, event-hosting, food-loving haven. Enjoy swirling and sipping through four ranges in the stylish Tasting Room or out on the verandah… That original pinotage has two sisters now (Prodigy and Carpe Diem) and there’s also chenin blanc, sauvignon blanc, rosé, malbec and a sweet viognier, among others.
The food Hope Bistro serves globally inspired menus, including tapas. There is also a deli to pick up treats like shiraz relish, pinotage preserve and Diemersfontein toffee.
Stay The country-chic Diemersfontein Guesthouse includes 10 garden rooms and two self-catering cottages.
Good to know You can book a guided horse ride on the estate.
Cost Wine-tasting: R50
Opening times Monday – Sunday, 10am – 5pm
Restaurant: Monday – Saturday, 12pm – 3pm; 6pm – 9pm
Sunday, 12pm – 3.30pm
Contact 021 864 5050, email@example.com
Restaurant: 066 346 5364
Where to find it Jan van Riebeeck Drive (R301), Wellington
Wellington Wines at Bovlei
The renovated cellar at Bovlei (the second-oldest cellar in SA) acts as the tasting room for Wellington Wines, a decades-long collaboration between Bovlei, Wamakersvallei and the Wellington Co-Operative. With its homely atmosphere and relaxed, comfortable aesthetic, it’s the perfect place to indulge in award-winning wines while drinking in the vineyard views. This is the home of white pinotage, along with everything from chenin blanc to shiraz. Tip: In the late afternoon, you can spot the “Man of Wellington” rock formation from the terrace.
The food Duke’s Kitchen does home-cooked casual fare, such as pizzas and burgers, plus a meal of the day on Sundays (book by Friday). Sit under the trees while the little ones are kept entertained at the play park.
Good to know The Moonlight Market on the last Friday of every month, from 4pm, is a wonderfully festive affair, with live music, food stalls and art exhibits.
Cost Wine-tasting: R40 (5 Duke wines)
R80 (5 La Cave wines)
R60 (best of both, 5 wines)
Opening times Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm
Saturday, 10am – 5pm
Sunday + public holidays, 11am – 3pm
Restaurant: Wednesday – Saturday, 11am – 8pm
Sunday, 11am – 2pm
Contact 021 873 1582, firstname.lastname@example.org
Restaurant: 066 539 3110
Where to find it Bainskloof Road (R301), Wellington
Doolhof Wine Estate
Along a dirt road heading deep into the mountains, it already feels like an adventure getting to Doolhof. Set in its own secret valley surrounded by vines, forest and towering mountains, this centuries-old estate (dating back to 1707) is insulated from the outside world – the perfect escape. Running through it is the Kromme River, which sets a wonderfully tranquil scene. There is an elegant Tasting Room where you can sample three ranges of award-winning wines, including a cap classique and singer Karen Zoid’s shiraz. Then head outdoors where the magic happens: from river walks (pooches are welcome), horse paddocks and a labyrinth to trails for hiking and mountain-biking.
The food Mila at Doolhof does seasonal, local-ingredient-driven, bistro-style food. You can also order a gourmet picnic basket (24 hours ahead) to enjoy at the riverside.
Stay Enjoy AfriCamps glamping, with your very own hot tub on your deck. Or check in to the five-star Doolhof Boutique Hotel, a Cape Dutch manor with six suites, a grand verandah, pool and spa room.
Good to know There is a morning Farmers’ Market on one Saturday of the month (from 8.30am) for food and craft stalls and live music. It also hosts Weekend Warrior MTB events.
Cost Wine-tasting: R100 (5 wines)
Pensioners free on Wednesdays
Opening times Monday – Friday, 8.30am – 4pm
Saturday + public holidays, 10am – 4pm
Sunday, 10am – 3pm
Restaurant: Wednesday – Sunday, 9am – 4pm
Contact 021 864 2805, email@example.com
Where to find it Bovlei Road, Wellington
At the foot of Bainskloof Pass, this picturesque, family-run boutique winery is simultaneously a tranquil respite in the countryside with excellent wine, and a perfect destination for a family day out. The Country House lounge is the venue for wine tastings; the winery is especially strong in terms of red wines, and there’s a wine and Belgian chocolate pairing. There are hiking and biking trails, and kids can let off steam on the jungle gym, play mini-golf or mini-soccer, enjoy the swings and slides, and meet the farm animals. It’s also dog-friendly!
The food The Stone Kitchen bistro does country-cuisine favourites, platters and blackboard specials. It’s also child-friendly to the max, offering a kids’ menu, indoor and outdoor play areas, with a Lego table, climbing wall and mini kitchen.
Stay There are five Country House suites (in the former stables) or self-catering Guava Cottage set amid the vines.
Good to know Visitors are welcome to join in the harvest in February and March.
Cost Wine-tasting: R80
Opening times Monday – Friday, 8:30am – 9pm
Saturday + Sunday, 8.30am – 5pm
Contact 076 351 7315, firstname.lastname@example.org
Restaurant: 076 845 1196
Where to find it Bovlei Road, Wellington
Welbedacht / Schalk Burger & Sons
Another farm in the sports-mad Burger family fold (famously with its own cricket oval), Welbedacht was established in 1830 and came into their possession in the 1990s. Today, the sprawling vineyards comprise 12 cultivars, which makes for a variety of wines to taste in the original cellar – now a cosy, atmospheric tasting room set in a beautiful manicured garden. There are four ranges – including Meerkat (“SA’s most gregarious wines”), inspired by Schalk Burger Sr’s own pet meerkats, a cap classique and wines produced for the recent Rugby World Cup. There’s a delightful eccentricity and down-to-earth bonhomie about this farm, which adds that extra sparkle to a visit.
Good to know Keep an eye out for the occasional live music concerts. The farm also hosts the annual Boland Gravel Monster cycling race.
Opening times Monday – Friday, 10am – 5pm
Saturday + public holidays, 10am – 2pm
Where to find it Oakdene Road, Wellington
Val du Charron
Meaning “Valley of the Wagonmakers” (the name is a nod to an old moniker for Wellington), this historic farm has been around since the 1700s. The Entwistle family, who arrived in 2006, have modernised and added a bounty of attractions to this “leisure estate” with its sculpture-dotted lawns. There are 15 varietals planted, but the blends are the star of the show, tasted in “three acts” in the Theatre of Wine experience. Traditional wine tastings, cellar and vineyard tours are offered. There are also the Wild Boar hiking and mountain-biking trails to explore in order to soak up the beauty of this serene corner of the Winelands.
The food Go casual at Pizza Vista (there’s a water-sprinkler play park on the lawn for the kids to cool down), or more substantial at The Grillroom, which specialises in meat but also does seafood, great breakfasts and cocktails.
Stay There’s a four-star guesthouse/hotel, three luxury pool suites in The Coach House and a two-bedroom Manor House.
Cost Wine-tasting: R49
Opening times Tuesday – Sunday, 10am – 4pm
Pizza: Tuesday – Saturday, 12pm – 9pm
Sunday, 12pm – 4pm
Grillroom: Daily, 7.30am – 9pm
Contact 021 873 1256, email@example.com
Where to find it Bovlei Road, Wellington
Upland Organic Estate
Tucked away in a corner at the end of a dirt road, you will find this rustic and unassuming fruit, olive, nut and wine farm. Upland has been producing world-class brandy, grappa, port-style wine and cabernet sauvignon for over a decade (all sulphite-free and vegan). You can really taste the commitment to gentler farming methods in the glass. Tastings take place in the atmospheric Oude Klaskamer (once the first schoolroom in the area). Don’t leave without trying the award-winning Cape Tawny port, rated Best Port in the Platter’s wine guide. It also makes SA’s only cask-strength (undiluted) brandy. There are lovely walks on the farm; with permission, you can bring your own picnic and enjoy quiet time at the river.
Cost Wine-tasting: R100 per person
Opening times By appointment only
Contact 082 731 4774, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it Fisantekuil Farm, Upland Road, off Berg Street, Wellington
Mont du Toit Wines
Descended from French Huguenots, the Du Toit family has been farming for over 300 years. Their estate, at the foot of the Hawequa Mountains, is planted with an abundance of red-varietal vineyards – cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc and shiraz – all produced using traditional, eco-friendly methods. Enjoy learning about these internationally lauded, full-bodied wines during a tasting with the winemaker (by appointment).
Cost Wine-tasting: R75 (2 ranges)
Opening times Monday – Friday, 10am – 4.30pm
Contact 021 873 7777, email@example.com
Where to find it 119 Blouvlei Road, Wellington
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