For the ultimate day trip into the country.
Now that social-distancing is an imperative, more and more people are seeking destinations that lend themselves to expansive outdoor entertaining. Fortunately, we live in a city that’s bordered by not one, but five, venerable viticultural regions – all less than an hour’s drive from the centre – where hundreds of wineries beckon, with the promise of wide-open spaces, world-class wine and superb local cuisine.
We went in search of the Top 10 – from Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschhoek to Durbanville and Constantia – which, aside from food and wine, offer a string of sensory pleasures that includes hotels, spas, boutiques, museums and art galleries, outdoor adventures and – perhaps, most importantly – a safe and immersive kids’ area where little ones can play while grown-ups attend to the very important business of sipping wine.
From centuries-old manor houses to state-of-the-art tasting centres, these are our Top 10 wine-farm destinations in the Cape. We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Dating back to 1692, 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, who has masterfully created the ultimate destination. A string of sensory pleasures awaits, but ultimately the luxury is in the integrity and authenticity of the setting.
- Food There are various edible offerings available: the casual Greenhouse restaurant, the more sophisticated Babel, and The Bakery where pizza evenings take place.
- Wine tasting Next to the vintage wine cellar is a warm yet modern tasting centre, where oenophiles are invited to sit back, relax and enjoy a few glasses of excellent Babylonstoren wine.
- Kids’ facilities The whole farm is a haven for kids, with farm animals to visit and feed, most notably a porcupine; neverending gardens with mazes and water features to splash around in; ice-cream trucks; Porky Hefer’s Nest chairs; and so on.
- Shops The Babylonstoren Farm Shop stocks freshly baked bread, a selection of cheeses, biltong and charcuterie, while the adjacent Lekker Room is filled with sweet treats, nuts and chocolates. There is also the beautifully merchandised Scented Room stocked with soaps, candles and bath products.
- Additional things to do There is also a Garden Spa, The Spice Garden, The Healing Garden and Tea Ceremony, and The Juicery.
- Stay For those who wish to immerse themselves in this garden paradise overnight, the hotel at Babylonstoren offers a sumptuous yet unpretentious taste of farm life.
Contact 021 863 3852, email@example.com
Where to find it Klapmuts Simondium Road, Simondium
Few wine farms in the Western Cape are more appreciated for their untainted beauty than Boschendal, with its ancient oaks, foresty expanses and beautiful, untamed gardens. Dating back to 1685, the estate’s scrupulously preserved heritage is palpable throughout, most obvious in the various antiques and artefacts on display in the Manor House.
- Food Visit The Werf for a casual fine-dining farm-to-table feast with floor-to-ceiling vistas of the massive vegetable and herb garden. The Deli serves more–casual options such as sandwiches and burgers; or book a scenic picnic in the Rhone rose garden.
- Wine tasting The Cellar Door, under the oats, is open on weekends and public holidays for wine tasting – order a charcuterie board to accompany your wine. Or try a choc-and-wine pairing…
- Kids’ facilities Kids between 5 and 14 years will go mad for the Tree House, an immersive and contained playground and pump track that’s supervised by a team of professional carers. The full Tree House experience is only available for guests staying at Boschendal, however, there are pony rides for kids between 4 and 7 years, and the pump track is open to all visitors.
- Shops The newly renovated Farm Shop and Butchery is packed to the rafters with freshly baked goods, condiments and preserves, wholesome readymade meals and a curated selection of bespoke homeware.
- Things to do Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy one of five mountain-biking trails, farm hikes or book a horse-riding experience.
- Stay There are various luxury accommodation offerings at Boschendal, including self-catering cottages (and luxury tents in the pipeline).
Contact 021 870 4200, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it Pniel Road, Groot Drakenstein, Franschhoek
Reminiscent of a fairytale garden, Vergelegen Wine Estate is as expansive as its “far away” moniker suggests, yet it is conveniently located in Somerset West in one of the most fertile valleys in the country (between the Hottentots Holland and Helderberg Mountains). The historical wine-producing estate offers guests (including the Queen of England) to explore its ancient gardens, dine at the award-winning restaurant and discover history at the museum. Less of an action-packed spot than its counterparts, Vergelegen is perfect for a relaxed day in the country.
- Food Vergelegen offers three different dining experiences: Camphors, its award-winning signature restaurant; The Stables, a family-friendly breakfast and lunch spot, and picnics in the forest.
- Wine tasting The wine tasting centre overlooks an extensive herb garden and is open for tastings daily.
- Kids’ facilities The estate and its extensive gardens are a wonderland waiting to be explored. Resident cat Abby is an attraction in herself. A wonderful jungle gym and play area is close enough to The Stables to allow adults to enjoy a relaxed family-friendly lunch.
- Things to do Vergelegen is a history buff’s haven. Visitors should visit the Homestead, Library, Mill Ruins, Slave Lodge for a slice of fascinating history. Tree lovers will be in their element. The first camphor trees were planted on the estate by Simon van der Stel in 1700.
Contact 021 847 2100, email@example.com
Where to find it Lourensford Road, Somerset West, Cape Town
Hugged by the surrounding Constantiaberg mountains, Uitsig is a veritable cornucopia of surprises, offering a reprieve from the city, a short drive from the centre. Family-friendly restaurants and endless activities make this wine farm an easy choice for a day out with the kids, without sacrificing good food and wine and an expansive country-style experience.
- Food There is a wonderful assortment of dining options available on the farm: Blockhouse Kitchen for flavourful, fuss-free family-friendly food; tasty Italian dishes at La Grotto Ristorante; Sushi Box, Nest Deli for comfort breakfasts and lunch; Aegir Project for beer, live music and casual meals, Fisherman’s Cottage for finger-licking fish and chips; and Kristen’s Kick-Ass Ice Cream for divine dessert options.
- Wine tasting Buy and taste wine at Uitsig Wine Shop. Or do a craft-beer tasting at Aegir Project Ale House.
- Kids’ facilities The Bike Park at Constantia Uitsig offers cyclists of all ages and skill levels hours of fun. All of the restaurants are also kid-friendly. And there’s a wonderful enclosed playground at Blockhouse Kitchen.
- Things to do The Bike Park caters for all ages and stages, so you can enjoy a day on the track regardless of your experience.
Contact 021 794 6500, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it Spaanschemat River Road, Constantia, Cape Town
Spice Route Destination
Offering gourmet food, artisanal wine, chocolate, shopping, and more, the Spice Route Destination is a one-stop farm, a mere 45-minute drive from Cape Town. With beautiful views of the Paarl Winelands, the varied offerings in the village are an eclectic celebration of Cape flavours and talents.
- Food Spice Route Destination has three entirely different eateries: Jewells, owned by charcuterie maestro Neill Jewell and his wife Tina, does innovative small plates; Barley & Biltong Emporium, a beer garden, does tasty burgers; and La Grapperia serves a selection of family-friendly wood-fired, thin-base pizzas.
- Wine tasting Whatever your poison, you’ll find it here: wine tasting, Craft beer tasting at Cape Brewing Company; spirit tasting at Wilderer Distillery and chocolate tasting at De Villiers Chocolate.
- Kids’ facilities Children are welcome at all the restaurants, with a playground conveniently located next to La Grapperia.
- Shops The artisanal stores at Spice Route are drawcards in and of themselves: Brenda’s Deli is a sensory explosion of spices, deli products, preserves, homeware and gardening items and confectionary; Red Hot Glass sells unique hand-blown glass products; Abigail Bisogno’s Trading Company is a beautiful decor stocked with favourites, such as Wonki Ware crockery and Mungo linens; and, of course, De Villiers Chocolate is nirvana for those with a sweet tooth.
- Things to do Beverage tastings, mountain-biking trails, hiking and running trails, and pilates classes and beauty treatments at Pilates for Life.
Contact 021 863 5200, email@example.com
Where to find it Suid Agter Paarl Road, Suider Paarl
The oldest wine-producing estate in South Africa, Groot Constantia’s proximity to the city centre makes it an appealing weekday outing, perfect for time-strapped parents with young children. Cape Dutch architecture, magnificent valley views, and walking trails that snake their way through the vineyards imbue it with character, while restaurants and wine tasting offer sensory pleasure.
- Food Jonkershuis serves classic breakfasts and Cape Malay-inspired bistro fare indoors and outside. If you can, nab a table in front of the Manor House under the oaks and let your kiddies roam free. Simon’s Restaurant offers classic, vegetarian, halaal and kiddies’ picnics in addition to its à la carte menu.
- Wine tasting Tastings and cellar tours are open daily. Take your tasting to the next level with a chocolate-and-wine pairing.
- Kids’ facilities While there are no jungle gyms or dedicated kids’ areas, Groot Constantia is a veritable wonderland, with a duck pond, rolling lawns to slide down, trees to climb and ice creams…
- Things to do The Visitors Route Experience is the best way to get an all-encompassing experience of the estate. The tour includes entrance to the Manor House and Cloete Cellar, wine tasting, a guided cellar tour, self-guided audio tours and a take-home crystal glass.
Contact 021 794 5128, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it Groot Constantia Road, Constantia, Cape Town
This scenic estate beneath the Groot Drakenstein Mountains is a state-of-the-art winemaking facility with not one, but two, world-class tasting facilities. This scenic estate beneath the Groot Drakenstein Mountains is an artful mix of heritage architecture and state-of-the-art winemaking. Wine takes centre stage, with various wine-fuelled activities, such as the wine tram, three distinct wine-tasting experiences and a sumptuous high tea, making Anthonij Rupert a one-stop Winelands destination.
- Food Enjoy an antipasti lunch at Terra Del Capo, or head to the Manor House to drink in views of the Franschhoek valley while enjoying high tea.
- Wine tasting Be transported back in time as you sample and sip vintages in the estate’s mid-nineteenth-century Cape Dutch Manor House. The Terra del Capo Tasting Room also offers tastings that showcase the company’s Italian-inspired wines.
- Kids’ facilities Children of all ages are welcome at the Franschhoek Motor Museum, while kids over the age of five can join their parents on the estate package tram ride on a pay-as-you-go basis.
- Things to do The all-in-one estate voucher package includes a scenic tram ride, wine tasting at both the Terra del Capo and Anthonij Rupert Tasting Rooms, lunch served at the Antipasti bar, and a visit to the Franschhoek Motor Museum.
Hazendal Wine Estate offers a truly unique mix of Russian and South African traditions. Russian-born owner Dr Mark Voloshin has brought the rich heritage and traditions of his birthland to the Cape, judiciously combining them with the overarching Cape Dutch aesthetic so prevalent in this corner of Stellenbosch.
- Food Guests may enjoy a traditional Russian high tea at the opulent Avant-Garde Restaurant, which is also the location of Jazz Club events and Chef’s evenings. Babushka Deli has a homely and comfort-food style offering that includes picnics, while the Pivnushka Beer Garden serves contemporary pub fare.
- Wine tasting The Wine Tasting Lounge is located in the estate’s original cellar and offers three wine-tasting options as well as a cheese and charcuterie board.
- Kids’ facilities Wonderdal is an out-of-this-world edutainment centre that combines advanced technology and physical activities to create an innovative indoor space and a fun outdoor play area for children between 5 and 13 years.
- Shops Babushka Deli stocks a variety of preserves, spices, freshly baked goods, take-home meals and souvenirs.
- Things to do Apart from the culinary and wine tasting experiences, Hazendal also has a golf course (opening early 2021) and the Marvol Gallery, which offers a glimpse into Russian art, culture and history.
Contact 021 205 5620, email@example.com
Where to find it Bottelary Road, Stellenbosch
A typical Stellenbosch wine farm, with ancient trees, sprawling vineyards and a flowing river, Spier has a unique array of bells and whistles on its seemingly endless grounds that will thrill children and adults alike.
- Food There are three distinct offerings: Vadas Smokehouse and Bakery (home of Vadas’ famous pasteis de nata), the casual Farm Café, and the Hotel Restaurant, which is perfect for a drink on the terrace. You can also find a secluded spot under the oak trees or by the dam and enjoy a picnic.
- Wine tasting Sit on the shady stoep overlooking the dam and mountains beyond while enjoying a wine tasting or a chocolate-and-wine pairing.
- Kids’ facilities Kids can interact with the birds at Eagles Encounters, and those over 10 years can join their parents for a segway tour. All the restaurants are kid-friendly, and there are special kids picnics and grape-juice tastings available as well.
- Shops For unique gifts and souvenirs, try the Hotel Shop or the Craft Market. The Farm Café stocks an assortment of edible goodies for your pantry and fridge.
- Things to do Glide through the vineyards on a segway, observe artists in action at the Spier Artisan Studio, explore the gardens on a self-guided walk or restore your inner calm at the Spier Spa.
- Stay Spier Hotel’s village-style buildings, lush green lawns and spacious rooms are situated next to the Eerste River.
Contact 021 809 1100, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it R310, Stellenbosch
You’re going to need more than a day to get through everything Lourensford has to offer. An adventure stop as well as a wine farm, Lourensford has a variety of activities for kids and adults alike, all of which are done against a spectacular backdrop of the Helderberg Mountains.
- Food The Millhouse Kitchen offers an array of Italian and French-inspired bistro dishes overlooking a kiddies’ play area on one side and the beautiful Lourensford gardens on the other. The Red Riding Hood Deli at the Coffee Roasting Company makes divine coffee and fresh pastries, while the Lourensford Market (open Friday, Saturday and Sunday) has endless food offerings.
- Wine tasting All current vintages are available in The Wine Tasting Centre, where visitors can indulge in specialised wine pairings such as liquorice and wine, or spice things up with a Vodka tasting.
- Kids’ facilities The Wunderkind play barn is an engaging space where kids between 3 and 12 years learn through play while parents unwind with a glass of wine.
- Shops Apart from the vibrant craft and fashion stalls at the market, the Lifestyle Shop stocks everything from gifts to clothing, home decor, ceramics, health foods and supplements.
- Things to do With Clay Pigeon Adventures, the Art Curator Gallery, mountain biking trails, Vinfari wine tasting and drive, Life Retreat Movement Studio and the Wellness in the Winelands Spa, there’s plenty to keep you entertained.
Contact 021 847 2333,email@example.com
Where to find it Lourensford Road, Somerset West
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