Of Our South Africa Experience
When you think of great experiences in South Africa, sampling the countries’ exceptional wines should be on your to-do list.
Countless vineyards spread across the country, where you can do wine tastings and buy directly from the producer at unbeatable prices. Most of the wineries are also home to exquisite restaurants. On some estates, you can even find guest houses and spas for a more extended stay.
Still, not many visitors know that there are plenty of exceptional wine regions in South Africa – besides legendary Stellenbosch or the famous Route 62.
In total, you will find more than 20 wine routes in South Africa. They lead you around the entire country: from the Cederberg Mountains through the Western Cape and Klein Karoo to the tip of Africa, Cape Agulhas, to KwaZulu Natal, the Orange River, and Namaqualand.
We have been living and traveling in the country for a year now and were very lucky to get to know most of the wine regions in South Africa. So, in this article, we’d love to share details about the great wine routes in South Africa and what they have on offer.
Let’s get started and raise our glass: Cheers. Salute. Jamas. Chin Chin. A votre santé. Prost.
1 Cederberg Wilderness Vineyards
At more than 1,000 meters above sea level, the Cederberg Wilderness Area is the highest wine-growing area in all of South Africa. In addition, it is one of the most beautiful locations for vineyards because they sit in the middle of the famous red-orange bizarre rock formations (see cover picture :-).
The harsh environment and purity of the mountain climate seem to find their way into the exquisite wines and give them an earthy but smooth note.
Here are the two wineries located in the heart of the Cederberg mountains:
- Cederberg Cellars, Dwarsrivier Farm. (Our picks: Cederberg Chenin Blanc, Cederberg Shiraz)
- “Ghost Corner”-Collection. The Niewouldt family also creates a second wine line with grapes from Elim, near Agulhas (see 21), the southernmost tip of the African continent. Because of the many ships that have sunk in its extreme waters, this is why it is called the “Ghost Corner”-Collection.
(Our pick: Ghost Corner Semillon)
- Driehoek Wines & Tourist Farm (Our pick: Driehoek Shiraz)
2 Tulbagh Wine Route
Framed by the Winterhoek and Witzenberg mountain ranges, the Tulbagh vineyards stretch in an idyllic green valley. And the quaint village of Tulbagh offers even more treats such as excellent restaurants and guesthouses, spas, shops, and outdoor activities. It’s so worth a visit.
A choice of wineries:
- Saronsberg (Our pick: Saronsberg Shiraz)
- Rijk’s Wine Estate (Our pick: Rijk’s Private Cellar Chenin Blanc – Barrel fermented)
- Blue Crane Vineyards
Did you Know...that South Africa is home to two outstanding grapes that you rarely find elsewhere?
Pinotage – Born in South Africa
In 1924 a professor from the University of Stellenbosch created this red blend, combining the Pinot Noir and Hermitage grape.
This is how the new grape got its name. Pinotage wines are very popular throughout the country – and worldwide.
Chenin Blanc – At home in France and South Africa
Chenin blanc is one of the oldest and best quality white wine grapes.
It originally comes from the French Loire Valley, and besides France, you will mainly find it in South Africa.
3 Swartland Wine Route
Nestled between the Cederberg mountains and the western coast, Swartland is another brilliant wine-growing area. Vineyards meander along the N7 (from Cape Town to Namibia).
A choice of wineries:
- Allesverloren (Our pick: Allesverloren Cabernet Sauvignon)
- Babylon’s Peak
(Our pick: Babylon’s Peak Viognier – Roussanne)
- Wildehurst Wines
- A.A. Badenhorst Family Wines
4 Darling Wine Route
One of the lesser-known wine routes in South Africa. Between the beautiful coastal towns of Grotto Bay and Yzerfontain, along the R307/ R315, lies the small wine region of Darling.
With wineries such as:
- Darling Cellars (Our pick: Old Bush Vines Chenin Blanc)
- Groote Post
5 Breedekloof Wine Route – Slanghoek Valley
The Breedekloof Valley is home to more than 20 wineries and calls itself home to the Chenin Blanc. In fact, it is South Africa’s largest Chenin Blanc producing area.
Also, it’s one of the most beautiful wine routes in South Africa we have seen. As a turnoff from the R43, coming from Wolseley/Ceres, the Slanghoek Valley meanders through picturesque mountain ranges and past peaceful wineries, like:
- Opstal Familiy Estate (Our pick: Opstal Chenin Blanc)
- Jason’s Hill (Our pick: Jason’s Hill Chenin Blanc)
- Bergsig Estate (Our pick: Bergsig Chardonnay)
6 Worcester Wine Route – Nuy Valley
Along the R43:
In the Nuy Valley:
- Conradie Family Vineyards (Our pick: Conradie Cabernet Sauvignon)
- Leipzig Winery (Our pick: Leipzig The Manor – red blend)
7 Roberston Wine Valley
If you continue from Nuy on the R60, you’ll reach the Roberston Wine Valley, one of the largest wine regions in South Africa. The vineyards are lining up along the Langeberg Mountains, follow the Breede River on the R317, or are located around Ashton and Montague (R62), the starting point of the Klein Karoo.
A choice of great wineries:
- Rooiberg (Our pick: Rooiberg Winery Reserve Pinotage)
- Kranskop (Our pick: Kranskop Chardonnay)
- Arendsig Single Vineyard Wine (Our Pick: Arendsig Chardonnay Blok A15)
8 Paarl Wine Route
Another famous wine-growing region is Paarl. Well connected to Cape Town via the N1, it hosts some extraordinary wineries such as:
(Our pick: Vilafonté series m – red blend)
- Rupert & Rothschild Vignerions
(Our pick: Rupert & Rothschild Baron Edmond -red blend)
- But also: Mitre’s Edge Wines, Ridgeback Wines, KWV, Nederburg Wines, and many more.
9 Wellington Wines
Wellington, 15 kilometers north of Paarl, stands for small but fantastic wineries. With winemakers like:
- Diemersfontein Wine & Country Estate
(Our pick: The Orginal Diemersfontein Pinotage)
- Bosman Family Vineyards
(Our pick: Optenhorst Chenin Blanc)
- Linton Park Wines
10 Durbanville Wine Route
Who would have thought there was another wine-growing corner in the greater Cape Town area? In Durbanville, directly behind the famous Bloubergstrand, you find:
- Diemersdal Estate
(Our pick: Diemersdal Pinotage Reserve)
- De Grendel Wines
About the Route 62
The Cape Route 62 is known as the longest scenic (tourist) route in South Africa. In fact, it leads over 850 kilometers from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth, passing incredible landscapes and various wine regions in the southern part of the country.
It should not be confused with the provincial road R62.
11 Constantia Wine Route
Speaking of Cape Town… On the backside of Table Mountain, along the M3, you’ll find the beautiful colonial-style wineries of Constantia. Certainly, one of the most picturesque wine routes in South Africa, hosting:
- Groot Constantia (Our pick: Groot Constantia Chardonnay)
- Eagle’s Nest (Our choice: Eagle’s Nest Viognier)
- Silvermist Wine Estate
This estate is also home to one of the top restaurants in the world: La Colombe. So, if you are after a unique food & wine experience, this is the place to go.
- Klein Constantia
- Constantia Glen
12 Franschhoek Wine Route
Compared to Stellenbosch, neighboring Franschhoek is less busy and cozier. And, compared to all other wine regions in South Africa, it is pretty French. Be it in terms of its heritage, the food, and exquisite shops.
If you also want an outstanding nature experience, take the R45 to Franschhoek coming from the Threewaters NR, and via the Franschhoek Pass. Stunning!
Here are some of the wineries:
- Boekenhoutskloof (Our pick: The 7 chairs Cabernet Sauvignon)
- La Motte Wine Estate
- La Bri
- La Petite Ferme
13 Stellenbosch Wine Route
Without a doubt the most famous wine region in South Africa. About 50 kilometers east of Cape Town and on the edge of the Hottentots Mountains, Stellenbosch has not only the most excellent wineries in the country but also a pretty little town. You can spend days there and experience the estates, wines, restaurants, and shops.
Here is a choice of great wineries:
- Meerlust (Our picks: Meerlust Rubicon – red blend, Meerlust Cabernet Sauvignon)
- Kanonkop Wine Estate (Our picks: Kanonkop Paul Sauer – red blend, Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon)
- Rust En Vrede Estate (Our pick: Rust En Vrede Cabernet Sauvignon)
- Vergelegen Estate (Our pick: Vergelegen Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon)
- Waterford Estate (Our pick: Waterford Cabernet Sauvignon)
- DeMorgenzon DMZ Wines (Our pick: DeMorgenzon Reserve Chenin Blanc)
- Delheim (Our pick: Delheim Pinotage)
- L’Avenir Estate (Our pick: L’Avenir Single Block Pinotage)
- Lanzerac Wine Estate (Our pick: Lanzerac Pionier Pinotage)
- Spier Wine Farm (Our pick: Spier Chenin Blanc)
- Backsberg (Our pick: Backsberg Viognier)
14 Elgin Valley Wines
Not widely known, but the Elgin Valley is the origin of some brilliant wines. Around Grabouw, next to the N2, and further down south on the Highlands Road, many vineyards shake hands. Idyllically located in front of the Hottentots Holland Catchment area, you’ll come across wineries such as:
- Shannon Vineyards (Our pick: Shannon Mount Bullet – red blend)
- Paul Cluver (Our pick: Paul Cluver Seven Flags Chardonnay)
- Neil Ellis Wines (Our pick: Elgin Barrel Fermented Chardonnay)
- Almenkerk Wine Estate
- Oneiric Wine Estate
15 Bot River Wine Route
Just a few more kilometers on the N2, already the following wine route appears. After the Houwhoek Pass, you’ll reach Botrivier, with some wineries around town and along the R43, like:
- PaardenKloof Estate
(Our pick: PaardenKloof Fynboshuis Cabernet Sauvignon)
- Genevieve MCC
- Wildekrans Wine Estate
- Gabrielskloof Wines
16 Hemel-en-Aarde Wine Route
Hemel-en-Aarde surprised us with a triple of excellent Chardonnays. Shortly before the well-known whale-watching town Hermanus on the south coast (and R43), we found these winemakers:
- Ataraxia Wines
(Our pick: Ataraxia Chardonnay)
- Tesselaarsdal Cellars
(Our pick: Tesselaardsdal Chardonnay)
- Hamilton Russell Vineyards
(Our pick: Hamilton Russell Vineyards Chardonnay)
17 Stanford Wine Route
Another little-known wine region in South Africa. Directly beyond Hermanus, the Stanford plains are home to several excellent winemakers, such as:
- RAKA Wines
(Our pick: Raka Biography Shiraz)
- Springfontein Wine Estate
- Walker Bay Estate
18 Agulhas Wine Triangle
And even the southernmost point of the continent has a wine-growing region. The flat, rough land around Cape Agulhas is home to the following fantastic wineries:
- Black Oystercatcher
(Our Pick: Black Oystercatcher Sauvignon Blanc)
- Lomond Wine Estate
- Cederberg Cellar’s Ghost Corner Selection, see under point 1.
19 Klein Karoo Wine Route
The Klein Karoo is part of South Africa’s central high plateau. It extends over 350 kilometers in the Western Cape, from Montague in the east to Uniondale in the west. Several million-year-old mountain ranges shield this semidesert valley, making it an extraordinary place for geologists, plant lovers, and winegrowers.
It is one of the rather less-known wine routes in South Africa. But, if you travel through the beautiful Klein Karoos, stop by some of the fabulous wineries, such as:
- De Krans Wines (Our pick: De Krans Tritonia -white blend)
- Boplaas Family Vineyards (Our choice: Boplass Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon)
- Peter Bayly Wines
- And if you are into Cape Port and Portuguese grapes, visit the Axe Hill Winery.
20 KwaZulu Natal Midlands and Drakensberge
Another relatively unknown wine region in South Africa. The KwaZulu Natal Wine Route spreads around the north of Howick / Pietermaritzburg (N3), along the Lions River (R103), and in the spectacular central Drakensberge, near Winterton.
Besides the magnificent nature, you will be surprised by the quality of their wines too:
- Cathedral Peak Wine Estate, Winterton (Our pick: Cathedral Peak Pinotage)
- Highgate Wine Estate (Our Pick: Highgate Black Edition Cabernet Sauvignon)
- Abingdon Estate
21 Orange River Wine Route
Who expects wineries in the Northern Cape? The region in the borderlands with Namibia, is better known as a raisin-growing area. But along the Orange River banks (N14), there are also great winemakers. You should definitely try the wines:
- Die Mas Van Kakamas (Our pick: Die Mas Chardonnay, Die Mas Shiraz)
- Landzicht Winery, Douglas (Our pick: Landzicht Chenin Blanc)
- Bezalel Estate Cellars
- We also came by the Orange River Cellars but interestingly we could not find an inviting tasting area or shop.
22 Namaqua West Coast Wine Route
Last but not least on the list of wine routes in South Africa is Namaqua.
Although we have been in Namaqualand for some time, we have actually not tried any of the wines from there. But we stay tuned.
- Bellpost Wines @ThiArt Cafe
- Klawer Wine Cellars
And here, our tour around the country, on the excellent wine routes of South Africa, comes to an end. We hope you enjoyed the trip, and we were able to give you a few suggestions where you can find excellent wines – in combination with incredible landscapes.
PS: Many of the wine routes in South Africa we experienced during our 35 day road trip around the entire country :-))