Wine Routes of South Africa, a Wine Tasting Safari!

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Wine routes are mostly associated with countries such as France or Italy since both countries have a long and rich history when it comes to winemaking.

Have you ever considered as part of your African adventure touring the different wine routes of South Africa?

Wine Routes of South Africa Foods and Wine

Wine tourism is an important aspect of tourism in South Africa since an increasing number of tourists travel to South Africa for its gourmet cuisine and wines.

I decided to take a closer look at the wine routes located in the largest wine-producing region of South Africa, and add to the mix a famous wine route, which turns out to be the longest in the world!

First off, why is South Africa an ideal place for wine growing? Well, the answer is the climate!

South African Climate

The Western Cape province of South Africa is the 4th largest province in the country and is on the southwestern corner of South Africa. Most of the wine producers are in South Africa.

Also, the climate that defines the region is mostly a Mediterranean climate, which means cold, wet winters and hot, dry summers. Excellent conditions for viticulture.

Grapes Varietals

South Africa is gaining notoriety as a wine producer; since the country is ranked ninth in the world.

Many varieties of wines are produced throughout South Africa and include the Cabernet Sauvignon, the Merlot, the Shiraz, the Pinot Noir, the Sauvignon Blanc, and the Chardonnay only to name a few.

Moreover, there is a grape variety that is only found in South Africa and has been created back in 1925.

This new varietal is the result of a cross between the Pinot Noir grapes and the Cinsaut grapes and is called Pinotage.

The Pinotage is a red wine with a cherry fruit flavor.

Grapes
From Tim Parkinson Creative Commons License

The Cape Winelands

The Western Cape Province encloses the largest wine-producing region: The Cape Winelands.

The Cape Winelands is by far the most picturesque region of South Africa and encompasses six wine-producing regions which are: Constantia, Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Paarl, Robertson, and Wellington. Each region has its own wine routes.

Constantia Wine Route

The Constantia Valley is located 20 minutes outside of Cape Town in the center of the Cape Peninsula and just southeast of the Table Mountain.

The Constantia wine route encompasses eight wine estates including the oldest one: the Groot Constantia Estate founded by Simon Van der Stel in 1685. The Groot Estate is well-known for its Sauvignon Blanc.

Stellenbosch Wine Route

The Stellenbosch wine route founded in 1971 by Frans Malan, Spatz Sperling, and Neil Joubert is the oldest wine route in South Africa.

In 2002, the name was changed to the Stellenbosch American Express Wine route, because, American Express is the proud sponsor of the wine route!

This Stellenbosch American Express Wine route has more than 150 wineries and is one of the most sought-after attractions for tourists. Due to the high number of wineries along this route, it has been divided into five sub-routes.

As a result, the Stellenbosch American Express Wine route has become more “traveler friendly”!

The Stellenbosch wine sub-routes are:

  • Bottelary Hills
  • Greater Simonsberg
  • Helderberg
  • Stellenbosch Valley
  • Stellenbosch Berg

Paarl Wine Route

The Paarl wine route includes 33 wine estates. The town of Paarl is well-known because of the presence of the Paarl mountain, a huge granite rock formation, very popular with rock climbers. The region is best known for its Shiraz, Roodeberg, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Paarl Mountain in South Africa
From Nick Boalch Creative Commons License

Franschhoek Wine Route

The Franschhoek Valley is also known as the Valley of the Huguenots is located about 50 minutes away from Cape Town. French Huguenots founded the town of Franschhoek in 1688. Franschhoek is quite popular with tourists since it is gaining notoriety as the “food and wine capital of South Africa”.

The Franschhoek wine route includes 30 wine cellars and offers many classics such as the Chenin Blanc, Merlot, and Pinot Noir to list only a few.

Robertson Wine Route

The Robertson Valley also called the “valley of vines and roses” is situated in the Breede River Valley and surrounded by impressive mountains.

The region is well renowned for its Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

Wellington Wine Route

The Wellington wine route is the youngest of the Cape Winelands region but has a rich history as far as winemaking is concerned since many wine estates have been around since the 1600s.

Vineyard in South Africa

One of the activities offered is the Wellington Wine Walk, which is a 3-day hike through the Wellington valley, encompassing vineyards, fynbos, and the olive groves. This excursion includes a visit to a few wine farms and of course, wine tasting.

Now, there is one last wine route that in my opinion, has to be included here. As it turned out, it is not only the longest wine route in South Africa but, in the world, and it is the Cape Route 62 wine route.

Cape Route 62 Wine Route

Route 62 is a very scenic route with spectacular landscapes and is an alternative to the very busy N2 Highway.

Also, Route 62 encompasses towns such as Montagu, and Oudtshoorn, and stretches between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.

This route enables you to travel at your own pace by taking the road least traveled and allowing you to visit small towns.

Along Cape Route 62, there are many attractions and landmarks to visit.

Among them is the city of Oudtshoorn, which is “the ostrich capital of the world” and as a result, encloses many ostrich farms.

The town of Oudtshoorn is truly worth a visit, and while you are there, why don’t you try an ostrich steak for dinner?

Many wine routes are spread out along Route 62 including one that I especially find worthwhile, the Worcester wine route.

Worcester Wine Route

The town of Worcester is at the center of the Worcester wine route. The town has a long and rich history of winemaking, which spans over 250 years. The Worcester Wine Route is in the Breede River Valley and is surrounded by breathtaking mountains. This route includes ten wine estates.

Did you know that the Worcester wine route was the first one to produce a Braille wine bottle? All the proceeds from the sales go to the institute for the blind.

Conclusion

South Africa holds a prominent place in the wine industry. Numerous award-winning wines come from South Africa

Furthermore, South Africa has created its own grape varietal called Pinotage, an excellent red wine.

Many wine routes are found in South Africa and more precisely in the Western Cape Province. Some of them are well established such as the Stellenbosch American Express Wine route, whereas others such as the Wellington wine route are in the infancy stage.

I only mentioned a few wine routes, but much more is available, and you can easily spend countless vacations trying to visit them all!

You don’t need to be a wine “connoisseur” to appreciate fully South Africa’s wine routes. The only prerequisite is to have a taste for adventure!

If you have any questions about the South African wine routes or would like to share your personal experiences, please leave a comment below. I will get back to you promptly.

Photo of author

Sonia Zannoni

My name is Sonia, a traveler enthusiast and the CEO of Wildlife Safari Adventures. My goal with Wildlife Safari Adventures is to provide insightful information to help you better plan your African travels. Are you ready to uncover the many facets of the Dark Continent?

16 thoughts on “Wine Routes of South Africa, a Wine Tasting Safari!”

  1. I am a huge fan of wine, and I always drink it on special occasions. I read somewhere that wine is actually very good for the heart since it contains grapes, which persuaded me to enjoy drinking wine over other beverages. Is there a specific wine brand from South Africa? I would love to try it since they have a lot of vineyards, so I expected they must have something to represent their country. Can you recommend to me any lovely wines made from South Africa? Thank you

    Reply
  2. Oh wow, now this looks like something I could truly get behind! What a fantastic idea! It combines two things I really love drinking wine and animals. I’ve had some South African wines before, and they are excellent. I will certainly have to try the Pinotage grape varietal. It sounds terrific.

    Reply
  3. Hi Sonia,

    I would have never considered South Africa as a good place for a wine tour. I love wine tours but I have not strayed too far from the usual places like California and France.

    I think it is great that there is a booming wine business there. I was also surprised to see that they grow pinot grapes there. I had always thought that the Pinot grape was a very delicate grape and very intolerant to weather extremes so again I never considered that South Africa could be a place that they could grow well.

    Do you know if any of these wineries ship their wine?

    Reply
    • If you want to try some South African wines, I know that there is a website called the Constantia wines where you can buy wines online, and they will ship them to your home. If you want to learn more about the Constantia wines online, click here.

      However, another option is to go to your local liquor store and look to see if they sell any South African wines or if they can get some South African wines for you.

      Hope it helps.

      Reply
  4. I have spent some time traveling in the southern region of South Africa. It’s a beautiful land with friendly, welcoming people. I even ventured into the Karoo; a land of enchantment! The wines I encountered were fabulous. My all-time favorite was the Johannesburg Resiling. I enjoyed several glasses with a Springbok pie one evening and found that food and wine pair unbeatable.

    Reply
    • Yes, you’re right, South Africa has a lot to offer, and it’s more than just safaris! South Africa has excellent wines as well as gourmet cuisine. Personally, my favorite wine is Pinotage.

      Thanks for sharing your story.

      Reply
  5. Sonia,

    Great post, very informative with incredible detail of the Wine routes. Love the photos you provided of the area.

    Many years ago, My father brewed Wine for family use; that is all his brothers(2) and sisters(6) and their families.

    I was introduced to wine at a very early age and to this day enjoy a good glass of wine. Not a wine expert, and at my age the palette fading.

    Thanks for posting this information, looking forward to reading your future posts.

    Joe

    Reply
    • I’m not a wine expert either I just like drinking good wine! I have never tried to make my own wine. I instead go to the liquor store and buy my wine. I don’t have the patience and the skills required!

      Reply
  6. Dear Sonia

    What an interesting article.

    South Africa is a country that I have always wanted to visit as I have heard that it is very beautiful and, of course, the wildlife is fascinating.

    I come from England and so European wines have always been part of my upbringing.

    I now live in Australia and have become acquainted with the Australian and New Zealand wines which, like South African wines, are gaining popularity and renown around the world.

    Unfortunately, I haven’t tasted South African wines but will look out for them.

    Thank you for this insight.

    Regards
    Lucinda

    Reply
    • I’m a big fan of Italian and Australian wines. There aren’t many South African wines available where I live.

      Only once, I had the chance to drink a Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa, and I was pleasantly surprised by the taste! Hopefully, as the South African wines gain notoriety, they will be more available worldwide.

      Reply
  7. It give me another reason to travel to South Africa. I have wanted to go on a safari for years but like always seems to get in the way.

    I love doing wine tasting and sampling the different wines. You are right, when it comes to wine, South Africa doesn’t come to mind right away. But now it will.

    Thanks for making me aware.

    Reply
    • Since wine tourism is gaining popularity in South Africa, many tour companies such as G adventures offer safari packages that combine wildlife sightings with wine tasting!

      Reply
  8. What a beautiful post! The pictures you included are absolutely stunning!

    I think it would be amazing to visit and take a few wine tours in South Africa. I have done a few here in Ontario (big wine enthusiast over here) and have really developed a LOVE for sauvignon blanc, especially the ones that have a real pear taste to them.

    I am in Ontario, Canada, and have tried some South African bottles in the past, and have always been really impressed with the quality.

    What would you say the most popular wineries are?

    Thanks for sharing, and again, what a lovely page.

    Reply
    • I love wine too, but I’m not a wine expert. I’m just like you, a wine enthusiast who mostly has a weakness for Italian and Australian wines. Unfortunately, I don’t have access to many South African wines.

      What are the most popular wineries? That’s a difficult question to answer because it all depends on your own personal preferences for wines. In general, I would say the wine estates located on the Stellenbosch American Express Wine Route are the most popular with tourists since this route is the oldest and most established in South Africa.

      If you want to try something new, like the Pinotage, which is a cross between the Pinot Noir and Cinsaut grapes, one winery within the Stellenbosch region come to mind, and it’s the Domaine Laroche, it offers a Pinotage, called L’avenir, is an excellent choice.

      If you like Sauvignon Blanc, the Morgenhof Wine Estate located on the Greater Simonsberg wine route in the Stellenbosch region offers an excellent Sauvignon Blanc.

      There are no bad choices when it comes to the selection of wineries and wine routes to visit!

      Hope it helps.

      Reply

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