South African wines are regarded as some of the best in the world. It’s no surprise that our wine routes attract thousands of visitors each year wanting to taste and buy the delicious vintages on offer.
Wine regions such as Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Constantia are some of the most popular in the country due to their famous wine estates and close proximity to Cape Town . But did you know South Africa boasts no less than 20 different wine routes?
If you’re interested in wine tourism, hop on a wine route less travelled to see beautiful sights and try fabulous labels. Here are a few suggested routes:
1. Elim and Agulhas
The Agulhas plains are believed to have once formed part of Antarctica. Until a few years ago, the area was predominantly known for its livestock farming. However, its mineral-rich plains and consistently cool climate have proved to be excellent for experimenting with viticulture, finding exceptional success in sauvignon blanc.
The landscape is strikingly beautiful, with wide open spaces and views stretching far into the distance. To visit the wine route, simply hop on the R43 road between Gansbaai and Cape Agulhas to visit award-winning wineries such as Lomond wine estate, Zoetendal Wine Farm, The Berrio, Black Oystercatcher, Ghost Corner and Strandveld Vineyards.
While in the area, don’t forget to stop at the small historic town of Elim. The settlement was established in 1824 by German missionaries, and vines were planted to produce sacramental wine. After wine making ceased for many decades, viticulture recommenced in the area in the 1990s, and Elim today forms part of the Agulhas Route. The town itself is picturesque, maintaining its historic appearance with whitewashed cottages.
The Swartland wine and olive route is one of the most exciting routes in South Africa, combining technology and innovation with age-old traditions.
The area is predominantly known for its shiraz, pinotage and chenin blancs, but producers varying in size from small and boutique winemakers to large estates and cooperatives are continuously experimenting with new varieties such as viognier, malbec, grenache, carignan and mourvèdre.
The Swartland Wine and Olive Route boasts numerous members, including private cellars, garagistes (small-scale wine makers who bring in grapes from elsewhere) and wine merchants.
Smaller wineries, such as Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines, offer intimate tastings by appointment, whereas large estates such as Allesverloren, a family farm dating back to 1704, welcomes visitors with daily tastings and a hearty restaurant.
The Hemel-en-Aarde wine route’s name means “heaven on earth” in Afrikaans, and this really is an accurate description of the valley characterised by fynbos-covered mountains and framed by the Atlantic Ocean. A more beautiful wine route is hard to come by.
The Hemel-en-Aarde wine route meanders along a 20km stretch along the R320 road and features 15 wine estates. The area is known for clay soil and a regular southeasterly wind that cools down the vineyards with cold air from the Benguela current. This imparts a unique flavour to the wines, which are often compared with those of Burgundy in France. The area is well known for its pinot noirs and chardonnays.
Don’t forget to visit the nearby quaint coastal town of Hermanus for beautiful views of the ocean, great restaurants and whale watching (in season).
4. Klein Karoo
The Klein Karoo wine route forms part of the scenic Route 62 that meanders between Cape Town, Oudtshoorn and Port Elizabeth. between Montague and Outeniqua. The arid landscape means the area offers some of South Africa’s most diverse wines.
The region is famous for its award-winning Cape port-style fortified wines and muscadels. Dry red wines, especially full-bodied shiraz, are also leaders in the region.
With almost 20 wineries to visit, the best way to enjoy the Klein Karoo Wine Route is to stay over in a quaint bed and breakfast to take in the scenery and visit as many of the wine farms as possible. Top wineries on the route include Barrydale Cellar, Boplaas Family Vineyards, Calitzdorp Cellar, Grundheim Wines and Herold Wines.