Wine tasting is inherently about consumption. You spend money, you consume calories, and you dedicate travel funds to taxis since you drank all that wine and have to get home somehow. South Africa’s tremendous wine communities are working to turn the wine-tasting experience into something more sustainable, educational, and culturally immersive. They’re trying to make wine tasting less about wine and more about experiencing the land and people that provide that wine. Here are 12 ways wine tasting meets ecotourism in South Africa.
This article originally appeared on AFKInsider.com.
A biodiverse wine route
Within driving distance of Cape Town is the Green Mountain Eco-Route, which claims to be the world’s first biodiversity wine route. The wine and food businesses in the area all work to have a minimal impact on the surrounding wildlife. Rather than cutting into, or cutting down portions of land around Groenland mountain, restaurants, wedding and wine tasting venues are incorporating the area including several rivers, says Southafrica.info. These areas include Bot River, Elgin, Grabouw, Houw Hoek and Villiersdorp.
Hiking and biking to wine tasting destinations
Family-owned wine label Paul Cluver has set up a biodiversity trail around Groenland mountain. The company’s “Take a Hike” trail gives winos a workout, and some incredible tastings, on a trail that brings them through farms and wine estates, says Southafrica.info.
Wildflowers, wine and ecotourism
The Darling Wine Route near Cape Town is known for gorgeous wildflower displays in the spring time,guided game drives and walks, according to Southafrica.info.
Rocking out and drinking up
The Cloof Wine Estate on the Darling Wine Route hosts Rocking the Daisies, an annual music and lifestyle festival. Considered South Africa’s top eco-friendly music festival, the event draws in top talent from all over the world and promotes living consciously, according to Rockingthedaisiessouthafrica.pr.co.
Dancing hard and treading lightly
Rocking the Daises puts on a popular two-day guided hike — Walking the Daisies — that requires reservations far in advance. The hike serves to “create and promote positive environmental action” according to Rockingthedaisiessouthafrica.pr.co.
The annual two-day hike starts in Cape Town and ends on arrival at the festival. About 200 hikers this year chose to do the 53-kilometer (33-mile) trek from Big Bay along Bloubergstand to Darling’s Cloof Wine Estate.
An all-inclusive vineyard experience
Groote Post is an 18th-century farm and vineyard on the Cape’s West Coast that offers many ways for visitors to connect with the earth. These include farm-to-table cooking classes, guided nature tours around the property, and some incredible wines. The farm also hosts weddings, according to Grootepost.co.za.
Walks for Wine
The Schapenberg Conservancy encompasses the grounds of 15 landowners and works to promote awareness and preservation of the natural environment on the Schapenberg hills. Six wine farms dot the land. Between learning about conservation efforts and local wildlife, visitors can sip vintages overlooking rare and endangered flora and fauna. Proceeds from the guided tours go to the conservation efforts, says Walksforwine.co.za.
Birdwatching on a vineyard
In the famous Stellenbosch wine area, 24 landowners pooled their property to form the Greater Simonsberg Conservancy, home to more than 60 bird species. Visitors with a penchant for birding can watch birds while walking or riding from wine farm to wine farm, according to Delvera.co.za.
Retail therapy and Riesling
The Delvera Agri-tourism Centre is the site of charming shops with locally made treats like canned goods, pottery, clothing and wine in The Greater Simonsberg Conservancy. The conservancy also organizes several hikes and nature walks, says Southafrica.info.
Visitors want to stay the night after visiting the Delvera can book a room at the Oakleaf lodge. This charming farm-style hotel is situated in the middle of vineyards and hiking trails. It offers go-karts for adults—not a bad way to get from one wine tasting to another. Almost every room features either a garden or farm view, according to Oakleaflodge.co.za.
Those craving a behind-the-scenes look at the world of wine making can take the Alternative Winelands Tour. The tour is put on by Dreamcatcher, an organization that supports community-based tourism in South Africa. The Alternative Winelands tour specifically visits wine estates that have demonstrated a commitment to employees, such as providing access to land and technical assistance so they can start their own wine label, according to Southafrica.info.
Up close and personal with the winelands
The Alternative Winelands Tour lets visitors interact with local farmers. In some cases, local community members welcome tour patrons into their homes to hear stories, learn local recipes and more. The Dreamcatcher Foundation puts revenue from the tours back into the local community, says SouthAfrica.info.