The Western Cape has a long and rich winemaking heritage that was first started by Simon van der Stel, the Governor of the Cape, in 1685. Wine lover or not, the winelands are well worth a visit if not for wine tasting then for the spectacular beauty of the many vineyards and estates. Rolling vineyards and quaint Cape Dutch homesteads await you, along with plenty of award winning wines.
There are various wine producing areas within the Cape, the most well-known are those of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, Paarl, the Breede River Valley and the Constantia Valley. Each of these areas has a well-developed wine-route where estates offer wine tasting and cellar tours, and wine can be purchased directly from the farm. In addition, many of the estates offer restaurants or picnics that can be enjoyed in beautiful surroundings.
The Constantia winelands are the closest to Cape Town city and can easily be visited in one day. Take time to visit the oldest vineyards in the country including: Groot Constantia, Klein Constantia, Buitenverwachting, Uitsig and Steenberg. At Groot Constantia, the original Manor House and Cloete Cellar both display interesting items from the early years on the farm, and the buildings themselves are beautiful examples of early Cape Dutch architecture. Award winning restaurants at both Uitsig and Buitenverwachting are well worth a visit, but need to be booked well in advance, and there are also relaxed outdoor dining options to choose from. There are many beautiful guesthouses, hotels and B&B's in the Constantia area; alternatively it is a mere 20-minute drive from the city bowl or Atlantic Seaboard.
The Stellenbosch and Franschhoek regions are within an hours' drive of Cape Town and can be visited as a day-trip. However these beautiful valleys, surrounded by magnificent mountains, are deserving of a longer stay.
From quaint guest cottages set amongst vineyards to luxury boutique hotels, both Stellenbosch and Franschhoek have a wide choice of accommodation to offer as well as being home to a selection of excellent restaurants. Franschhoek, with its delightful French flair and influence, is fast becoming the gastronomic capital of the country - and award winning restaurants headed by internationally-acclaimed chefs are a must to visit. The oak-lined streets of Stellenbosch are rich in culture and history and beautiful Cape Dutch buildings can be seen throughout the town. Stellenbosch is also a university town as is home to the oldest university in South Africa with roots going back to 1866.
The winelands regions of both Paarl and Wellington are set against stunning mountainous backdrops, fertile farmland and rolling vineyards. Similarly to the regions of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, they can be visited as day trips - but are well worth lingering for a day or two. Paarl is set at the foot of the remarkable Paarl Rock, a cluster of unusual granite domes, and is home to a number of cultural and historical attractions, award winning wine estates and a variety of accommodation options. Also surrounded by spectacular mountain ranges, Wellington offers a host of outdoor activities including hiking and mountain biking as well as beautiful historic buildings and wine estates to visit and enjoy.
Slightly further afield, and also slightly less developed, are the winelands of the Breede River Valley. Excellent vineyards can be found in Robertson, Ashton, McGregor, Bonnievale and Montagu and fertile vineyards and orchards are surrounded by the backdrop of majestic mountains. The various towns are within close proximity of one another making it possible to choose accommodation in one place while visiting the surrounding areas. Refreshed by the waters of the Breede River, the valley offers all manner of outdoor activities from fishing and river cruising to hiking and mountain biking. Robertson is also the gateway to Route 62 - the scenic route that meanders through vineyards, farmlands and quaint country towns en-route to Oudtshoorn and the Garden Route.