Located just an hour’s drive northeast of Cape Town, South Africa’s most famous wine producing region encompasses the towns of Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl. It also has some of the country’s most dramatic scenery and makes for the perfect weekend escape. Here are 10 of our favorite places to raise a toast in South Africa’s Winelands.
1. Bosman’s Restaurant
With a 50-page wine list that is considered one of the best in the world, it is easy to see why Bosman’s Restaurant at the Grand Roche Hotel in Paarl tops the list. Not to mention it has one of only a handful of South Africa’s accredited sommeliers to assist in pairings, and a food menu featuring traditional South African country fare. Make reservations to dine at this award-winning restaurant.
2. Reuben’s Restaurant & Bar
Reuben’s, one of the best restaurants in South Africa’s Winelands, is located in Franschhoek, our favorite wine town. It looks as if someone took a French country village and plunked it down on a Lord of the Rings-worthy mountain with velvet valley scenery. A Franschhoek institution, Reuben’s does hot and spicy twists on Cape Malay cooking and of course has a fabulous wine list.
3. The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Francais
Also in Franschhoek, the restaurant at Le Quartier Francais is a well-respected foodie favorite, especially when celebrating a special occasion. The hotel is also is one of the best places to sleep in town.
4. Zevenwacht Wine Estate
Zevenwacht, located in the beautiful Cape Dutch-style town of Stellenbosch, is one of my favorite vineyards to visit because they teach guests about more than wine. You can also learn how to bake traditional bread from scratch! Ask about the wine and cheese lunches. (By the way, dogs are welcome.)
5. Haut Espoir Vineyards
This favorite vineyard in Franschhoek is known for full-bodied red blends that taste as distinct as the dramatic mountain views surrounding the estate. “Haut Espoir,” which translates to “high hopes,” doesn’t disappoint.
6. Thelema Mountain Vineyards
The signature wine at Thelema Mountain Vineyards is a Cabernet called “The Mint” that has hints of eucalyptus in its aroma. It’s located on Helschoogte Pass, on the way into Stellenbosch. Thelema was recently rated one of the world’s top 100 wine estates.
7. Tokara Restaurant & Winery
Located on the same mountain pass as Thelema Mountain Vineyards, Tokara is known for its excellent, fresh farm-to-table creations that come paired with wine from the restaurant’s own vineyard.
8. Easy Rider Wine Tours
If you don’t have a designated driver and want to hit up a number of vineyards, then join an organized tour. One of our personal favorites is Easy Rider Wine Tours. The day trips are great and include lunch and brandy tasting along with multiple vineyard stops.
9. Welbedacht Wine Estate – Schalk Burger & Sons
Located 30 miles east of Franschhoek on Oakdene Road in the town of Wellington, Welbedacht makes award-winning Pinotages and other rich red blends on a beautifully manicured estate.
10. Ernie Els Wines
For big reds and big views, hit up Ernie Els Wines on Annandale Road in Stellenbosch. Ernie Els Wines is a joint venture between South African champion golfer Ernie Els and Louis Strydom, an award-winning winemaker. Els once played on the PGA tour circuit, and now you can taste his wines on South Africa’s wine circuit.
Related content on AFKTravel:
The Constantia Valley: Where To Eat, Drink And Play In Cape Town’s Winelands
History Among The Vines: South Africa’s Heritage Wine Estates
Beyond The Tasting Room: Activities And Attractions On South Africa’s Wine Estates