Cape Town is rated as one of the top tourist destinations in the world. Situated on the southwest coast of South Africa, it is a haven of exquisite natural beauty. Nestled between Table Mountain and the Cape Harbour, the city offers stunning views from almost any vantage point. Some of the top attractions in the area include the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Table Mountain, Robben Island, Signal Hill and Chapman’s Peak, to name but a few.
Visitors to Cape Town are spoiled for choice with activities ranging from sightseeing to shopping, hiking, surfing, nearby safaris and wine-tasting. Wine tasting in Cape Town includes visits to centuries-old wineries, rich with folklore and historic artifacts, as well as tastefully modern establishments catering to a young, yet discerning, international crowd.
Here are our top seven establishments to visit for wine tasting in Cape Town.
Many of Cape Town’s wineries have been in existence since the 17th century. Groot Constantia, the oldest wine estate in the Southern Hemisphere, is an unmissable destination for wine connoisseurs, and is thus a part of most Cape Town wine tours.
Groot Constantia won 12 gold awards over a 22-month period and holds the greatest number of accolades of any wine farm in the region. Opt for the “visitors route” experience which includes a tour of the original homestead — a fine example of Cape Dutch architecture, as well as the first production cellars in the valley.
Photo credit: Groot Constantia
Opening times: 7 days a week, from 09:00 to 17:00. Closed on Good Friday and Christmas day.
Getting there: Take the hop-on-hop-off bus line from any of the major tourist attractions in the city.
Recommended: The sauvignon blanc, featuring notes of melon and pineapple is a firm favorite. While standard wine tastings are available, we recommended the wine and chocolate pairing, which makes a delectable duo.
Tip: Groot Constantia is well-known for Grand Constance, a late harvest, naturally sweet wine made from a muscat grape grown on the estate and hand-selected for fermentation. Also, don’t forget to visit the original Cape Dutch Manor House and the Cloete Cellar, famous for being the birthplace of Grand Constance wine.
Cape wines grew in popularity during the 17th century and were in great demand amongst Europe’s nobility. Today, the name Constantia remains synonymous with great wine. While Groot Constantia comprises the lower section of the farm, Klein Constantia is positioned on the upper foothills of the Constantiaberg mountain range overlooking False Bay. The splendid taste of Klein Constantia wine is often attributed to the cooling breeze which rolls in off the bay.
Many visitors to Cape Town overlook this incredible wine-tasting gem of an estate. Klein Constantia should be visited for the sheer beauty of the estate, which is superbly maintained, well preserved and includes incredible views of the bay.
Opening times: 7 days a week, from 09:00 to 16:30. Closed on certain public holidays.
Getting there: Klein Constantia is a mere twenty-minute drive from the city centre. You can rent a car, take an Uber or join any of the myriad wine tours on offer in Cape Town.
Recommended: Vin de Constance, a naturally sweet wine, was enjoyed by none other than Napoleon Bonaparte. Klein Constantia is also well known for their sauvignon blanc.
Tip: The cost of wine tasting at Klein Constantia is waived upon purchase of a premier range wine.
Fit for royalty, it is said that the Queen of Denmark once lunched at Rust en Vrede. Rust en Vrede was also a favourite destination of the late Nelson Mandela. In fact, this wine was served at the Nobel Peace Prize dinner at Madiba’s request. The farm is a family-owned and run establishment specializing in the production of red wines, with all the grapes grown on site. The exclusivity of this wine is due to limited production and is one of the reasons Rust en Vrede earned an excellent reputation for single vineyard wines.
Opening times: Tasting room is open Monday to Saturday from 09:00 to 17:00 and Sundays 10:00 to 16:00. Lunch is served daily from 12:00 to 15:00.
Getting there: Rust en Vrede is situated in the town of Stellenbosch, about 30 km from Cape Town city centre. Take the R44 from Cape Town, turning off at Annandale. Rust en Vrede is the last farm on Annandale.
Recommended: Rust en Vrede Estate Vineyard Syrah 2014 is an excellent choice. It is rated No. 49 in the Wine Spectator Top 100 World Wines 2017.
Tip: Stay for lunch. It is served daily with a choice of steak or salmon, prepared by Head Chef Fabio Daniel, and served in the original cellar which has been converted into a fine dining restaurant.
If you’ve had your fill of the older wineries along the world-famous Cape Town wine routes and would like to experience something more contemporary, head for Durbanville Hills, a mere stones-throw from the Mother City. Durbanville Hills looks out over Table Bay and offers spectacular views of Table Mountain.
Opening times: Mondays 12:00 to 18:00, Tuesday to Friday 10:00 to 18:00, Saturday and public holidays 10:00 to 16:00, Sundays 11:00 to 16:00.
Getting there: Durbanville Hills is situated on the Tygerberg Valley road, only 20 minutes from the city center.
Recommended: Wines offered vary on a day to day basis. The sauvignon blanc is one of their most loved wines, as are the pinotage and Chenin blanc.
Tip: Durbanville Hills Restaurant was voted South Africa’s best restaurant in Restaurant Week’s fifth-anniversary edition. It is advisable to book a wine tasting tour or a table at Durbanville Hills in advance, as it tends to get quite full over weekends.
Photo credit: Klein Roosboom
Also referred to as Cape Town’s best-kept secret, Klein Roosboom is as charming as it is quaint. At Klein Roosboom, you can experience something uniquely African, wine tasting in a cave! That’s right, for a rustic and truly memorable experience you can opt to have your wine tasting in a comfortably decorated cave.
Opening times: Tuesday to Sunday, 10:00 to 16:30
Getting there: Klein Roosboom is situated at the coastal entrance to the Durbanville Valley. Rent a car and take the scenic Tygerberg Valley Road.
Recommended: Klein Roosboom produces merlot, cabernet, sauvignon and shiraz. The fresh Atlantic breeze lends itself to cooler climate wines such as the sauvignon blanc.
Tip: Engage with the staff at Klein Roosboom. They are passionate about wine, love talking about it and will happily answer any questions you have about the farm or the winemaking process.
A boutique wine farm with only 11 hectares under vine, Beau Constantia is situated on the south-facing slopes of Constantia Nek, overlooking False Bay. The tasting room is situated in a suspended glass box overlooking the vineyard. The interior incorporates elegant lines in delicate tones of grey with natural woody accents to blend seamlessly with panoramic views of the vineyard.
Opening times: Wine tasting is open Tuesday to Sunday, 11:00 to 18:00; closed on Christmas Eve & Day and Boxing Day. Lunch is served Tuesday to Saturday, 12:00 to 14:00 and dinner is served from 17:00 to 20:00; Sundays only feature lunch.
Getting there: Use the hop-on hop-off and get off at Constantia Nek. Beau Constantia can be reached on foot from Constantia Nek. Alternatively, take a taxi or Uber from the city center.
Recommended: Visitors to Beau Constantia rave about the canapé and wine pairing. Regular wine tasting includes 6 wines: two whites and a rosé to start, followed by three reds.
Tip: Try the tapas for two, a signature dish at Chef's Warehouse, their on-site restaurant.
Photo credit: Haut Espoit Wine Estate & Cellar
For those wine lovers who care to venture off the beaten track, we’ve discovered another hidden gem. Haut Espoir is a small, family-run winery situated at the end of the Franschhoek Valley. They practice biodynamic viticulture and steer clear of insecticides, pesticides and commercial fertilizer. This little farm produces shiraz, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, petit verdot and cabernet franc. You can expect personal interaction, the warmest hospitality and amazing views from one of the few wineries that aims to exist in harmony with nature.
Opening times: They are open Monday to Friday, 11:00 to 16:00.
Getting there: The wine estate is 7 minutes drive (5km) from the village of Franschhoek. The best way to get there is to hire a car and drive from Cape Town.
Recommended: The shiraz and the cabernet are highly recommended.
Tip: Buy a bottle of wine and the tour fee will be waived.
Wine tasting in Cape Town promises to be a romantic experience steeped in history and culture. The offering of available wines in the region is as diverse and colourful as the people inhabiting the land. Most of Cape Town’s wine tours offer food pairings with cheese, chocolate, nougat and biltong, influenced by the fusion of Dutch, French and Cape Malay cultures. The heady combination of stunning natural landscape, superb accommodation and excellent food are sure to remain with you for many years to come.