Stellenbosch, also called Eikestad (meaning city of oaks), is the second oldest town in South Africa and home to the oldest wine route in the country. Wine tasting in Stellenbosch is a fun and culturally rich experience. Whilst there are numerous established estates in the region, there are also many wineries which opened in recent decades, bringing fresh blood to a centuries old industry and helping to make Stellenbosch a diverse and interesting region for tourists.
Stellenbosch wineries go to great lengths to provide visitors with unique and enriching experiences. With 170 wineries in Stellenbosch, each one special in its own way, it’s hard to decide which farms to include on a Stellenbosch wine tour. It was tough, but we’ve managed to put together a list of the five most culturally significant and interesting Stellenbosch wine farms. Read on to find out which ones we recommend the most.
A visit to Spier Wine Farm is an education in the art of life. Spier’s people are committed to living and working in ways that bring positive change to the environment and community. Established in 1692, Spier is one of South Africa’s oldest wine estates, with a fascinating history and a legacy that the owners never take for granted. Today, the farm has a modern, conscious energy with the addition of contemporary amenities such as a hotel, restaurants, paths for walking, picnic facilities, and even segway tours. The estate is immaculately preserved and well maintained. Focused on art and good farming, Spier is about farm-to-table food and accoladed wines.
- Opening hours: Monday to Wednesday: 09:00 – 17:00, Thursday to Saturday: 09:00 – 18:00, Sunday: 11:00 – 18:00. It is highly recommended to make bookings at least 48 hours in advance.
- Tour duration: Tastings take around 45 minutes. One-hour or two-hour segway tours are available. Self-guided walks can take from 30 to 90 minutes or longer, depending on how much you wish to explore. Wine tastings can be paired with chocolate and cheese.
- Wine to taste: The Method Cap Classique Brut with flavours of green apple and raspberry is a must-try wine. Their 21 Gables Chenin Blanc is also worth a try.
Jordan Estate features a wine tasting centre, rolling lawns, luxury accommodation, a bakery and a world-class restaurant. Visitors can stay-over, relax and enjoy fine wines and local fare while being surrounded by breathtaking views of the vineyards. A must-see feature at Jordan Estate is the cellar, described as “a bold fusion of old and new world architectural ideas”. The cellar is recessed into the slope of the mountain and uses natural cooling due to its advantageous location.
- Opening hours: Monday to Sunday: 09:30 – 16:30. Open until 18:30 on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays during summer (November to February).
- Tour duration: 15 minutes for a quick tasting. 2 hours for a classic tasting with cellar and vineyard tour.
- Wine to taste: Jordan Estate’s barrel fermented chardonnay has won many awards and is definitely a must. The chenin blanc, which is 50% barrel fermented and 50% tank fermented, is a lighter oak wine and has beautiful tropical flavours with a spicy complexity. Their premium range includes a number of award winning bordeaux blends.
Delheim was one of the founding members of the Stellenbosch wine route and the first producer of Pinotage rosé in South Africa. Famous for the unique cupcake and wine pairing, Delheim is a must on any Stellenbosch wine tour. At Delheim, staff create mouth-watering combinations guaranteed to blow your mind. Think pomegranate and pinotage! Or, rooibos cupcakes with honey and cream cheese topping paired with chenin blanc.
- Opening hours: Monday to Sunday: 09:00 – 17:00, public holidays: 09:00 – 17:00, cellar tours: Monday to Sunday: 10:30 and 14:30. Closed on certain holidays.
- Tour duration: 30 – 45 minutes.
- Wine to taste: The Delheim Pinotage Rosé 2017 with its great heritage, is a vibrant, light pink wine with a fresh and lively palate while the Delheim Grand Reserve 2014, their flagship, is a flavourful ruby red wine with great structure and a velvety texture.
Clos Malverne is the ultimate Stellenbosch food and wine destination. They offer a mouth-watering four course food and wine pairing and the restaurant has a wrap-around balcony to better appreciate the stunning vineyard views. Another novelty experience, sure to tantalize and thrill includes an ice-cream and wine pairing. Four flavourful ice creams are paired with a selection of four delectable wines. Other facilities at the estate include accommodation, a wedding venue and a day-spa.
- Opening hours: Monday to Friday: 10:00 – 16:30 (the restaurant remains closed on Mondays), Saturday: 10:00 – 13:00 (wine-tasting)
- Tour duration: 20 – 30 minutes. It is advised to book the tour in advance.
- Wine to taste: Flagship Clos Malverne Auret is a harmonious, yet complex blend with spicy fruit with pleasantly dry tannins and a gritty texture. Ripe plumps, rich chocolate and a touch of expresso meld seamlessly with elements of cedar wood and blackcurrant. Clos Malverne Sauvignon Blanc is pure tropical delight with flavours of ripe pineapple, litchi and asparagus.
DeMorgenzon rests on slopes ranging in height from 200 to 400 meters above sea level and the picturesque vineyard is set against an ocean backdrop and surrounded by mountains. It might sound a little eccentric, but at DeMorgenzon they play baroque and early classical music to their vines and fermenting wines 24 hours a day, 7 days a week through strategically placed speakers. It is believed that the music influences the way the wine tastes and smells. Sceptical? Visit DeMorgenzon, try their wines and decide for yourself.
Guests are encouraged to set aside at least an hour to enjoy a tasting at DeMorgenzon. Take a seat, relax and enjoy the views, the garden and the music.
- Opening hours: Monday to Sunday, 10:00 – 17:00
- Tour duration: Around 60 minutes.
- Wine to taste: DeMorgenzon has received outstanding local and international recognition for their white wines, namely the Reserve Chenin Blanc and Reserve Chardonnay. However their red wines and estate blends are also outstanding.
South African summers (November to February) can tend to get really hot, not unbearably so, but not ideal for travelling from winery to winery or enjoying the great outdoors.
April to October offers the best in climate with cooler temperatures and less crowds. It is also off-season so you can expect to score some great deals during this time.
There are a number of ways to get to Stellenbosch from Cape Town. You could hire a car and drive, get a transfer with any of the major tour operators or make use of one of the popular coach services.
- Hiring a car: There are well maintained national roads between Cape Town and Stellenbosch and several reputable car hire companies. The drive takes an average of 30 to 45 minutes. You will require an international driver’s license or have your license certified by your country's consulate.
- Coach: Many luxury bus lines connect popular routes between Cape Town and Stellenbosch. Try Greyhound or Translux for reputable service providers. The journey takes around 1 hour but is available at a more reasonable price than taking a car or a taxi.
- Train: There are also regular trains leaving every 3 hours from Cape Town station to Stellenbosch. The journey takes about an hour and a half but is also one of the cheapest transportation available. From the Stellenbosch station, the centre of the town is only a few minutes’ walk away.
The Stellenbosch wine route incorporates over 150 interconnected individual wineries. It is therefore understandable that this route is divided into five sub-routes, grouping the various farms by location.
Stellenbosch offers some interesting tours and tasting options, including food and wine pairings, bike trails, and even a full day vineyard hiking trail which is a 24 km meander through vineyards, forests, olive groves and coastal renosterveld.
There are companies offering guided tours of Stellenbosch, many of which have the inside scoop on the best and most beautiful places to incorporate for a comprehensive Stellenbosch visit. With so much to see, taste and experience it may be best to book a tour.
Accommodation in Stellenbosch is widely available and caters to all tastes and budgets. Here are our three picks based on budget.
- Le Jardin Wonderland Villas
A luxury manor house ideal for families with young children, Le Jardin is a safe, private space featuring beautiful gardens, an eco-pool, a pizza deck, zipline and tepee tent. You can enjoy a private, peaceful weekend at the villa, wherein breakfast is included, along with complimentary wine and cleaning services. Top it up with a personal chef for the ultimate luxurious stay.
- L’Avenir Estate
L’Avenir is a cozy country lodge located on a working wine estate in the Stellenbosch valley. Providing a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, away from the hustle-bustle of the city, at L’Avenir you can enjoy homemade meals on the deck, wine tasting sessions, swimming in a cool pool, and more.
- Eendracht Hotel
A village hotel, Eendracht is located within walking distance from the many Stellenbosch restaurants, coffee houses, galleries and museums. Hotel rooms and apartments at Eendracht are reasonably priced.
- Take a glimpse into the past. The Stellenbosch Village Museum showcases four historic homes with restored furnishings and gardens.
- Pierneef is considered one of South Africa’s best landscape artists. A wonderful collection of his work is available for viewing at the Rupert Gallery as well as the La Motte wine farm in Stellenbosch.
- Stellenbosch may be all about ‘vine and dine’, but it also offers some amazing wildlife spotting opportunities. There are giraffes, leopards, baboons and eagles to be seen. Some well-known nature reserves in the area include
- Giraffe Haven, Jonkershoek Nature Reserve, Assagaibosch and Eagle Encounters.
It is often remarked that when the first settlers arrived at the Cape of Good Hope hundreds of years ago it was the beginning of a love story; one which has endured through the centuries and continues today. Visiting the Cape, and Stellenbosch in particular, will leave you with little wonder as to why people fall in love with South Africa and keep coming back.