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 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.
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 Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, and 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.
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 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
- 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.
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.
One of the activities offered is the Wellington Wine Walk, which is a 3-day hike through the Wellington valley, encompassing vineyards, fynbos, and 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.
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.