The Western Cape wine region in South Africa is stunningly beautiful, the people are friendly, the wine tastes good and, on top of this, it’s an affordable and fun experience for any level of wine lover.
When it comes to wine, I am by no means a connoisseur. I couldn’t tell you the type of grape a wine is made from, the region or soil it was grown in or the winemaker that produced it just by the smell and taste of it. But I love drinking wine.
Red, white, pink, bubbly – as long as it tastes good, I will enjoy it.
My husband Sean and I spent our time in Paarl, Franschhoek and Stellenbosch. Each of these had their own character and charm. Some of the highlights from our trip were:
- Wandering around the Spice Route in Paarl which is where we first discovered biltong. Biltong is a type of dried, cured meat made from beef or game meats. This is where we first tried ostrich biltong, and it certainly wasn’t the last time!
- Sampling wine and cheese at Fairview Wine and Cheese in Paarl. This place was like a playground for wine and cheese lovers with a tasting consisting of five wines and five types of cheese.
- Walking off all the wine and cheese with a hike up Paarl Rock. We were rewarded with a beautiful view of the Paarl valley from the top.
- Winery-hopping in Franschhoek with a stop at Haute Cabriere for lunch.
- Sipping a glass of wine while checking out Ernie Els’ trophy room at Ernie Els Wines in Stellenbosch.
We traveled to Western Cape for a friend’s wedding so it was a trip where we didn’t really plan much in advance. One of the few things we had heard about before the trip was a hiking trail up Paarl Rock, so we came prepared for a good long hike.
Turns out, after getting lost a couple of times on the drive up there and eventually finding our way to a path, the hike was short and easy – which was actually a good thing in the South African heat that day!
Driving through the main street in Franschhoek, there were dozens upon dozens of wineries to stop at. We ended up visiting three, which we chose randomly as we drove through. Each of them had their own character, especially the Leopard’s Leap Vineyard as it was particularly modern (left).
Next time we make a trip to Franschhoek, we will hop on the Wine Tram which offers a number of wine tours around Franschhoek and eliminates the need to find a designated driver!
Compared to Franschhoek, we found that the wineries in Stellenbosch had a more traditional feel and were set on massive estates.
This reminded me more of the vineyards we have visited in Bordeaux. The highlight (for Sean at least) was when he got to pose with the Claret Jug at Ernie Els Wines.
The Cape Winelands are a quick 45 minute drive from Cape Town. There are many options for day trips to the wine region from Cape Town but if you have the time, I would recommend staying a night or two in the region to really experience it.
Western Cape was a memorable experience we’ll never forget!