The South African wine route

South Africa is well-known for its wine routes. Apart from the famous and renowned Cape Winelands, located in the western portion of the country, there are certainly other wine routes worth visiting, each distinct in its character and experience. While the bulk of South Africa’s vineyards may be found in the Western Cape, the Eastern Cape also has its fair share of notable places.

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Near Cape Town are the towns of Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, and Constantia, which are well worth visiting for wine lovers. The South African wine route offers world-class varietals, including Pinotage, Chenin Blanc, and Sauvignon Blanc and extends from the Northern Cape to the Orange Free State and into the KwaZulu-Natal midlands. The KwaZulu-Natal Midlands are also included in the trail’s scope[1].

Local experts can create bespoke South African wine itineraries, including visiting vineyards for more extended tastings, luxury hotels, gourmet dinners, and other unique experiences. Several distinct wine routes in South Africa showcase the finest of a particular region’s wines and winemaking traditions[2].

Did you know that South Africa’s “official” wine routes are based on different wine-growing regions? The Cape 62 and Green Mountain Eco wine routes are among the world’s longest biodiverse trails. [3]

  1. Stellenbosch

The Stellenbosch Wine Route dates back to 1971 and is widely considered South Africa’s first wine route. Stellenbosch is also the driving force behind South Africa’s burgeoning wine tourism industry – more than 200 wineries can be found along this route alone amongst stunning mountain views. If you want to take advantage of the private tours, you will be able to visit the Kanonkop Estate, which has been likened to South Africa’s Grand Cru. Five current vintages, and three prior vintages of Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Paul Sauer, may be sampled by visitors after being welcomed by the owner or cellar master.

The South African wine route, Exploring the South African Wine Route

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  1. Franschhoek

Known as South Africa’s culinary capital. Franschhoek has some of the country’s most stunning scenery, top-notch wines, and a welcoming small-town atmosphere to offer. This wine route features a wide variety of soil types which, when paired with the area’s significant annual rainfall, has resulted in several award-winning wines. At the same time as sampling these wines, guests may indulge in a delectable culinary experience. Franschhoek is also widely known for its sparkling wine production, namely that of the Methode Cap Classique. Before embarking on a relaxed afternoon drive through the Winelands, you may sample some of these wines and have a sumptuous dinner at Haute Cabriere Estate[4].

white house near green tree with mountain view

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  1. Constantia

The Constantia Wine Route, situated in the heart of the Cape’s winemaking district, is one of Australia’s most prominent wine routes. Constantia’s vineyards were some of the first ever to be planted in the country. Because he was so infatuated with the region’s sweet wine, Napoleon Bonaparte is claimed to have refused to drink anything else on his deathbed. During your stay, you may explore the vines and cellars of Constantia Glen, a boutique winery. This is the place to go if you seek a more private wine tour experience, including cheeses, a charcuterie buffet, and a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc from the vineyard[5].

  1. Elgin

Mofam, Panorama, and Somersfontain are three of Elgin Valley’s 18 wine-producing properties. Traditional apple farming has historically been practiced in this region, and is frequently included in the Four Passes Fruit Route. Amongst its many varietals, this region is known for its Shiraz, Pinot Noir, and Sauvignon Blanc. Wine Paths provides tours to the Almenkerk and Oak Valley wine estates, where visitors may enjoy wine sampling, cellar tours, wine blending demonstrations, and fine dining surrounded by beautiful apple blossoms.

  1. Helderberg

In the Helderberg region of Stellenbosch, there are 20+ wineries ranging from historical cellars dating back more than 300 years to cutting-edge boutique wineries equipped with the latest technology.

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Wine Makers to Visit

  1. James Mackenzie

James Mackenzie is a lesser-known winemaker in Wellington. At a reasonable price, visitors can explore tastings and the vineyard’s accommodation (for instance, the beautiful and romantic 1748 cottage he rents out). The property was bought by this gentle giant, who is always accompanied by a pack of devoted dogs, in 2000. Instead of ripping off and replacing the vines, Mackenzie prefers the sustainable approach, working with older vines, aged between 40 and 70 years, which produce a lower yield but higher-quality products.

The vineyard is protected from danger by the craggy, snow-capped mountains surrounding it, and James’ home overlooks a gorgeous lake where he frequently enjoys a glass of wine as the sun sets. “This grape was initially cultivated to manufacture brandy,” he tells his clients. When he is done, he makes an excellent Chenin blanc, priced at only £4.30 a bottle. Having adapted to our climate and topography through time, it may now be recognized as a truly South African variety[6].

  1. Chamonix

Gottfried Mocke, a winery located in Chamonix, represents a new generation of ambitious winemakers who are transforming the quiet Franschhoek valley into the most exciting area for Cape wines. The Chamonix cellar lays atop a steep mountain road. The current owners transformed a 17th-century blacksmith shop into a tasting area and a casual café. Before arriving, please make an appointment with Gottfried or one of his employees to take advantage of the opportunity to see the basement, where Gottfried experiments with enormous oak barrels, smaller French barrels, and classic steel and cement tanks.

Everything from a crisp Chardonnay that’s been left to age in stainless steel to a great 2009 Sauvignon Banc that winemaker Wolfgang Gottfried aged for an extra year because “people here are growing interested in how wines develop rather than wanting to consume everything early.” His pinotage, which is silky smooth, and his pinot noir, which rivals the finest of Burgundy, are both outstanding[7].

The History of Cape Wine and the Birth of South African Nation

This Day in Wine History

25 September 2012: South Africa’s most significant commercial wine show started, Cape Wine 2012[8]. That year, the conference was held from the 25th to the 27th of September. The trade expo was attended by 2,538 persons over three days, representing a 97% increase compared to Cape Wine 2008. Accompanying the show, a trade exhibition known as Vindaba highlighted the multitude of amazing wine tourism options available across the nation.

References

  1. “Our Guide to the South African Wine Route,” Winepaths.com, 2022, https://www.winepaths.com/articles/editorial/south-africa/the-south-african-wine-route-guide.
  2. Johan Bruwer, “South African Wine Routes: Some Perspectives on the Wine Tourism Industry’s Structural Dimensions and Wine Tourism Product,” Tourism Management 24, no. 4 (August 2003): 423–35, https://doi.org/10.1016/s0261-5177(02)00105-x.
  3. “Our Guide to the South African Wine Route,” Winepaths.com, 2022, https://www.winepaths.com/articles/editorial/south-africa/the-south-african-wine-route-guide.
  4. “Our Guide to the South African Wine Route,” Winepaths.com, 2022, https://www.winepaths.com/articles/editorial/south-africa/the-south-african-wine-route-guide
  5. John Brunton, “South Africa’s Cape Wine Route: Top 10 Guide,” the Guardian (The Guardian, January 7, 2014), https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2014/jan/07/south-africa-cape-wine-route-top-10.
  6. John Brunton, “South Africa’s Cape Wine Route: Top 10 Guide,” the Guardian (The Guardian, January 7, 2014), https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2014/jan/07/south-africa-cape-wine-route-top-10.
  7. Jeanne Brand, Valeria Panzeri, and Astrid Buica, “Wine Quality Drivers: A Case Study on South African Chenin Blanc and Pinotage Wines,” Foods 9, no. 6 (June 18, 2020): 805, https://doi.org/10.3390/foods9060805.
  8. John Brunton, “South Africa’s Cape Wine Route: Top 10 Guide,” the Guardian (The Guardian, January 7, 2014), https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2014/jan/07/south-africa-cape-wine-route-top-10.

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