Region Visit: Touring the Western Cape Winelands in Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, South Africa


The Western Cape Winelands is one of the worlds’ greatest wine regions producing world class Pinotage, Chenin Blanc and other varietals. It’s marked with fabulous scenery and shows like a beauty queen much like many other parts of South Africa.

This post is one chapter on our trip to South Africa, a Safari in the Maasai Mara in Kenya and Mauritius. This trip was redeemed through Air Canada’s Aeroplan and through Starwood Preferred Guest (Marriott Bonvoy) and Hyatt Gold Passport. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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Region Visit: Touring the Western Cape Winelands of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, South Africa

We spent two days touring around the area enjoying some wine tastings at various wineries. 

Wine tourism in South African has developed into a model that’s somewhere in between the commercial Napa Valley and the traditional French vineyards. Most of the tastings in South Africa involved being seated at a table and enjoying a seated tasting of 5-7 wines. The formal nature was a nice change of standing at the bar next to a motor coach or van full of people on tour. The disadvantage is that you can’t fit in many wineries in the day as it takes 30-50 minutes to get through a tasting.

I’ve provided a brief highlight of some of the locations we visited on this particular tour, instead of a more in depth look at each stop.

Cellar Doors with Cape Dutch Architecture:

Most of the South African wineries have beautiful Cape Dutch Architecture, which make for an interesting setting than the usual barrel rooms to taste wine.  

Meerlust – Cape Dutch Achitecture

Meerlust home of the “first growth” Rubicon:

The Tasting Hall at Boschendal

Stopping in at Haute Caribière:

We found this to be one of our favourite with a particularly good Chardonnay / Pinot Noir. They also have a restaurant on site, which we did not try. This was very close to our hotel at Le Quarter Français in Franschhoek.

Underground Tasting Room at Haute Caribiere
Fabulous Tasting Patios at Haute Caribière

It has gorgeous views over the Franschhoek valley.

Calling in at Spier:

We stopped in at Spier, which is a large scale operation. Unfortunately, this meant a large tasting room without much history or personality. 

Select Tastings at Spier
Large Format Sales

A Visit to the Smaller Thelema:

Some wineries are of course, large scale operations, whereas some others, such as Thelema are more family run operations. Access to the Cellar Door is at the end of their farm access road, well off the main trail. We were treated quite well by Thelema with surprisingly nice wines.

Accessing the Cellar Door at Thelema
Views on the way into Thelema
Select Tastings at Thelema

Stopping at a Giant – Nedeberg Wines:

Surprisingly, for a large scale operation, we had wonderful private treatment from Nederburg when we turned up 1 hour before closing. We were treated to a quiet tasting on the outside deck with their premium wines:

A Cape Dutch Cellar Door at Nedeberg
Nicely Landscaped Gardens
Nedeberg Vines
Select Tasting at Nedeberg at Sunset

The Nedeberg Visit was among our highlights given how nice the wines were and how well we were taken care of.

Goat-tastic: Calling in at Fairview

We also visited the bizarre, but entertaining goat tower at Fairview– home of the mass produced “Goat’s do Roam” wine. Everyone has to have a signature item, and this one is a circular climbing goat tower.

Fairview Climbing Goat Tower
The Goat is in the House

Picnic’s at the Long Table at Boschendal:

One of our other highlights was a picnic at Boschendal. We also arranged (reservation made in person a day prior) for a very filling picnic at Boscehndal. Not all picnics are served at the long table, but if you happen to be with 20 friends, it’s a pleasant way to go.

Boschendal Long Tables
Le Picnic Menu at Boschendhal

Passing by Victor Verster Prison:

Lastly, by chance, we happened by the Victor Verster Prison where Nelson Mandela was released in 1992. The prison is still a functioning prison but we stopped for this photograph of the statue at the front gates. We were able to relive this bit of history recently through the footage of Nelson Mandela’s life after his passing. 

The Entry to Victor Verster Prison

My Thoughts on Our Time in the Western Cape Winelands:

Our two days went by way too quickly. In the warmth of late November, we were often the only ones in the tasting room. It was a bit surprising at the level of attention we were able to get. I’d highly recommend a visit if your travels bring you to the Western Cape.

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