For the ultimate day trip into the country.
We live in a city that not only has its own designated wine valley; it’s also bordered by four other venerable viticultural regions – all under an hour’s drive away. Hundreds of wineries beckon, promising wide-open spaces, world-class wine and superb local cuisine. From Constantia and Durbanville to Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschhoek, we went in search of the top destination wine estates that – in addition to wining and dining – offer a string of pleasurable pursuits (spas, boutiques, museums, art galleries and outdoor adventures, to mention a few). Most notably, all have something to keep the kids amused while the grown-ups attend to the important business of sipping wine.
Which are your favourites? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
This 200-hectare farm in the Drakenstein Valley, almost halfway between Franschhoek and Paarl, is owned by the inimitably stylish former magazine editor Karen Roos. It’s difficult to impart how and why this farm ticks all the sensory boxes with such easy-going aplomb. Perhaps it’s the scale of the vision: the marvel of a magnificent fruit and vegetable heritage garden around which all else circulates, and the emphasis on lovely details. There is a real sense of delight here.
The wine The farm grows 13 different grape varieties. Next to the vintage wine cellar is a tasting centre where you can enjoy 10 excellent Babylonstoren wines (the Mourvèdre Rosé goes well with summer, as does the Sprankel MCC!). There’s also a brand-new wine museum, The Story of Wine, whose visual documentary and audio guide provide a fascinating peek into the history and cultivation of wine.
The food The daytime Greenhouse Restaurant serves casual food in relaxed surrounds; the more sophisticated Babel offers farm-to-fork satisfaction.
There’s more The Farm Shop stocks freshly baked bread, a selection of cheeses, biltong and charcuterie. There is also the Scented Room, stocked with soaps, candles and bath products. Babylonstoren offers a range of workshops (such as essential-oil blending and bonsai), garden tours, and an olive oil and balsamic tour (where you blend your own). There’s also a spa and, for overnight guests, rowing on the dam, cycling around the farm and getting involved in farm activities such as the morning harvest.
For the kids The whole farm is a haven for children, with farm animals to visit and feed (most notably the donkeys), and never-ending gardens with mazes and water features to splash around in. There are ice-cream trucks, designer Porky Hefer’s brilliant Nest chairs, and a Lekker (sweets) Room at the Farm Shop, filled with candy and chocolate.
Stay Immerse yourself in this garden paradise overnight: book one of the Farmhouse suites or cottages for a sumptuous yet unpretentious taste of country life.
Contact 021 863 3852, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it Klapmuts Simondium Road, Simondium
With its ancient oaks and both wild and manicured gardens, Boschendal is simply beautiful. Dating back to 1685, the estate’s scrupulously preserved heritage is palpable – most obviously in the Manor House.
The wine The farm produces most varietals, with a focus on chardonnay, shiraz and MCC. The Werf offers five different tastings with Huguenot chocolates. The heritage Rose Garden, is also open for wine tastings with food platters.
The food The Werf Restaurant does farm-to-table seasonal plates (such as tempura waterblommetijies in winter and chargrilled beetroot and smoked feta in summer). The Deli serves more casual fare.
There’s more There are five mountain-biking trails (with bikes for hire), farm hikes, garden tours and horse-riding.
The Farm Shop stocks artisanal items and food from the estate to take home. This summer, there’s a drive-in cinema and Friday night swims and markets.
For the kids They will go mad for The Tree House .
Stay Luxury lodgings include cottages, Werf garden suites and a mountain villa.
Contact 021 870 4200, email@example.com
Where to find it Pniel Road, Groot Drakenstein, Franschhoek
Reminiscent of a fairy-tale land, Vergelegen is as expansive as its “far away” moniker suggests. In addition to sweeping vineyards, it has no less than 17 glorious themed gardens and forests, plus a nature reserve. If that’s not reason enough to visit, there’s also the estate’s 320-year heritage.
The wine Eight varietals are grown and there are four wine ranges to taste (including their first-ever rosé). The vineyard and cellar tour is a must to see the multi-level gravity-flow cellar – and for the magnificent views from the roof.
The food The Stables is a family-friendly bistro; The River Café is a glass-walled space with a mostly seafood menu (until 24 April).
There’s more This is a history buff’s haven, with a Cape-Dutch homestead and beautiful library, the Mill Ruins and Slave Lodge. The first camphor trees were planted back in 1700. The estate’s alien-clearing and restoration projects can be seen on a guided drive (with the possibility of glimpsing some wildlife).
For the kids The gardens, forests and Yellowwood Walk are waiting to be explored. There is also an adventure playground next to The Stables.
Contact 021 847 2100, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it Lourensford Road, Somerset West, Cape Town
This organic estate – just a short drive from the city centre – is a wonderful escape; an easy choice for a family day out, without sacrificing good food and wine and that expansive feeling of being further away in the country.
The wine Known for world-class white wines, it also has reds and MCC. Tastings are done at the Wine Shop.
The food There is an array of dining options: The Blockhouse Kitchen for flavourful, produce-led dishes; Italian classics at La Grotto; and fuss-free, family-friendly alfresco options at the Sushi Box and Nest Deli.
There’s more The Bike Park caters for all ages, with hours of fun on skill-appropriate tracks.
For the kids Apart from the Bike Park, there’s a wonderful enclosed playground at The Blockhouse Kitchen, plus Kristen’s Kick-Ass Ice Creams (that the grown-ups will love too).
Contact 021 794 6500, email@example.com
Where to find it Spaanschemat River Road, Constantia, Cape Town
Spice Route Destination
A one-stop Winelands experience just 45 minutes from Cape Town, Spice Route Destination offers wonderful views and a variety of artisanal shops celebrating Cape flavours and talent.
The wine Small-batch wines from the Swartland can be tasted (and paired with charcuterie). Plus there’s craft beer and cider tastings at the Cape Brewing Company and spirits at Wilderer Distillery (gin, grappa and schnapps) – the new Beach Bar at La Grapperia does fab cocktails.
The food Jewell’s Restaurant, owned by charcuterie maestro Neil Jewell, does innovative farm-to-table bistro plates; Barley & Biltong Emporium is a beer garden (think tasty burgers, ribs and gourmet hot dogs); and La Grapperia serves German and Italian food, wood-fired, thin-base pizzas and platters to share.
There’s more Brenda’s Deli is packed with preserves, homeware, gardening items, confectionery and spices (you can blend your own). De Villiers Chocolate does tastings and also serves delectable ice cream. Môigoeters is a creative space where you can paint your own ceramics, Red Hot Glass sells unique hand-blown creations, while Abigail Bisogno’s Trading Company is an eclectic decor store. There are also mountain biking, hiking and running trails on the farm.
For the kids There is a playground conveniently located next to La Grapperia, and another larger play area close to Jewell’s Restaurant with a custom bike track and jungle gyms.
Contact 021 863 5200, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it Suid Agter Paarl Road, Suider Paarl
The very first wine-producing farm in South Africa (it dates back to 1685), Groot Constantia’s proximity to the city centre makes it an appealing outing. Cape-Dutch architecture, magnificent valley views and walking trails that snake through the vineyards imbue it with character, while the food and wine guarantee sensory pleasure.
The wine Although it produces red and white wines, Groot Constantia is perhaps most famous for its Grand Constance sweet wine (enjoyed by Napoleon and others). There are daily tastings and cellar tours, as well as chocolate-and-wine pairings.
The food Jonkershuis serves classic breakfasts and Cape Malay-inspired bistro fare – nab a table under the oaks and let the kids roam free. Simon’s Restaurant has an upmarket à la carte menu and also does picnic baskets.
There’s more The Visitors Route Experience is a self-guided tour that takes in the Manor House museums and historic Cloete Cellar with its beautiful pediment, a cellar tour, wine tasting and a take home crystal glass.
For the kids Groot Constantia is like having your own fantastic secret garden to explore: a duck pond, rolling lawns to tumble down, trees to climb and ice creams…
Contact 021 794 5128, email@example.com
Where to find it Groot Constantia Road, Constantia, Cape Town
This scenic estate beneath the Groot Drakenstein Mountains has a state-of the-art winemaking facility with two tasting rooms and wonderful heritage architecture. The Cape-Dutch Manor House is a warm and regal domain featuring wood-beam ceilings, yellowwood floors, 19th-century furnishings and period artworks.
The wine There are six wine brands, including L’Ormarins Cap Classique, one dedicated to Italian grape varietals and some including old-vine wines. There is also eau de vie and Sagnac (brandy). You can sample them in the Manor House and at the Terra del Capo Tasting Room (which also does an Italian cheese-andwine experience with imported and local cheese).
The food Terra del Capo serves superb antipasti lunches under the olives trees (with a view of the cellar through glass walls). Or book an elegant high tea in the Manor House, overlooking beautifully manicured lawns.
There’s more This is also the home of the Franschhoek Motor Museum, sure to be a hit with “kids” of all ages. An all-in-one estate voucher package includes the museum, wine tastings, lunch and a scenic tram ride.
For the kids They will love the vintage tram ride.
Contact 021 874 9041/9074, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it R45 Wine Route, Franschhoek Valley, Franschhoek
Stretched across the Bottelary Hills in the Stellenbosch Winelands, just 30 minutes from Cape Town, Hazendal wine estate offers culture, cuisine, golf and entertainment for the entire family.
The wine Visitors can discover the easy-drinking Christoffel Hazenwinkel range as well as the premium Hazendal range in the upscale yet welcoming Wine Tasting Lounge. There’s also a Sensory Pairing Experience in the subterranean Wine Library.
The food For comfort-food classics and picnic fare, try Babushka Deli; flame-grilled favourites (and beer-glazed eisbein) are served at Pivnushka Beer Garden, and there’s a high tea experience too.
There’s more The Marvol Gallery showcases local and international art, culture and history; the Cape-Dutch manor house is decorated with a remarkable collection of antique and period furniture, collectables and art of South African masters. Motor enthusiasts will be thrilled by Hazendal’s Classic Car Collection and music lovers will enjoy the monthly Jazz Club evenings. Golf enthusiasts can tee off at the world class18-hole, par-3 golf course.
For the kids Wonderdal, an interactive play centre, will keep kids entertained while teaching them about energy, biology and life skils. There’s also putt-putt and all the above culinary offerings have a kids menu.
Stay The Homestead is an exclusive-use Cape Dutch villa that accommodates up to 10 guests or more in five luxurious spacious suites.
Contact 021 205 5620, email@example.com
Where to find it Bottelary Road, Stellenbosch
The archetypal Stellenbosch wine farm, with age-old trees, sprawling vineyards and a pretty river, the focus here is on ethical farming and creativity.
The wine There are six ranges, including organic and vegan. Enjoy a tasting on the verandah beside the dam (with platters or a chocolate pairing, if you like). The Spier Hotel also has a wine bar.
The food Vadas Smokehouse & Bakery is beloved for its pastéis de nata and hearty meals; or put together a picnic at the Farm Café and find a spot under the oaks or at the new Riverside area. The Spier Hotel restaurant does à la carte regional dishes.
There’s more Explore the farm on a Segway or with four themed self-guided walks. Spier has one of the largest collections of contemporary art in South Africa, including 31 outdoor sculptures and the Mosaic Kraal. Visit Eagle Encounters bird-of-prey sanctuary and browse the craft market.
For the kids The Elemental Garden is an adventure to explore. There are also grape-juice tastings, plus a Kids Clubhouse with supervised activities.
Stay Rooms at the Spier Hotel are clustered around courtyards with pools.
Contact 021 809 1100, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it R310, Stellenbosch
Against the spectacular backdrop of the Helderberg Mountains, this is an adventure stop as well as a wine farm and will please visitors of all ages.
The wine The farm grows nine varietals and has five ranges – best appreciated on the safari-style Vinfari that visits the vineyards and cellar. The Tasting Room offers wine pairings with Turkish delight and Belgian chocolate; there’s also a tasting of the estate’s own vodka and Abru microbrewery for craft beer.
The food Family-friendly Millhouse Kitchen serves Italian- and French-inspired food overlooking the beautiful gardens. For divine coffee and pastries, head to the Coffee Roasting Company and its Red Riding Hood Deli.
There’s more The Lourensford Market (on weekends) has craft and clothing stalls and endless food options. There’s also the Art Curator gallery and a spa, plus clay-pigeon shooting and biking trails.
For the kids There is a great playground adjacent to The Millhouse Kitchen.
Contact 021 847 2333, email@example.com
Where to find it Lourensford Road, Somerset West
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