Home > Africa > What to do in the Cape Winelands?….

What to do in the Cape Winelands?….

… Drink wine and drive the wine routes (preferably in a vintage convertible car), of course! There are well over a hundred wine estates to choose from – all unique in their own way.

One of the nine wines for Glen Carlou's "standard" wine tasting ... for under EUR 3

Glen Carlou was our first stop and also one of our favorites, not least because of its stylish modern wine tasting area with large glass windows overlooking the vineyards and valley below. For our first wine tasting, we chose the “standard” package which for ZAR 25 per person lets you sample an impressive nine wines…. “That’s crazy, your palette goes numb after four wines,” we were told at a later wine farm. (Which was probably true as, after five generous samples, my head started to lift a little and they all began to taste good!) This wine estate has its own in-house modern art gallery and strives to protect its local birdlife – everything from reed cormorants to spotted eagle owls and white pelicans to name but a few. The farm pays close attention to limiting, and avoiding, chemicals and interfering with nature and is part of the Biodiversity Wine Initiative which promotes sustainability in the South African wine industry. Over the bar hang some of the numerous awards that Glen Carlou label has won – its Tortoise Hill white and reds consistently are named “Best Value” wines in South Africa and it’s picked up several prizes for South Africa’s Best Cellars and its wines have made it into several airline cabins including South African Airways.

Preparing the fresh homemade platters at Seidelberg.

Not far away is the laidback and homely Seidelberg Wine Estate which, perched at the end of a long driveway on a “hilltop”, actually offers a view of the back of Table Mountain. Over 300 years old, the estate was originally called “De Leuwen Jagt” (The Lion Hunts), it was bought by German Roland Seidel in 1997 (half of the wine farms I have visited have German owners or a German connection!) who renamed it Seidelberg (literally Seidel hill) and today boasts a great choice of whites, rosés and reds.

There’s a large grass terrace which is the perfect spot for lunch – a platter of homemade meats and cheeses for lunch, served with fresh bread on a wooden board. It’s simple but delicious.

Nelson's Wine Estate - family run and damn good wines!

My personal favorite is Nelson’s Wine Estate, a small, sleepy and understated one which has some beautiful colonial buildings, owned by the Nelson family near Paarl. Alan Nelson bought the bankrupt estate in 1987 and he spent several years lovingly restoring it before going on to win the highly competitive award for “Best Chardonnay in South Africa” and title of “Champion Private Wine Producer in the Boland [Cape Winelands] region” in 1996. Today, daughter Lisha is the chief winemaker and has won several prestigious awards for her wines. We invest in one of the pricier reds, her “Dad’s” blend – a limited edition mix of Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, which she created as a tribute to her father.

We try five wines – the 2003 Merlot and Shiraz are both excellent as is the 2009 Sauvignon Blanc. We are the only visitors there so we are treated to a behind-the-scenes tour to see the production area which is modern, clean and extremely well-organized.

The distinctive Ridgeback wines, named after the Rhodesian Ridgeback dog.

Curious to see a smaller wine farm, we head to Ridgeback, which was recommended by our hotel concierge. Named after the fierce Rhodesian Ridgeback hunting dog (the owners have Zimbabwean connections), this farm has just 35 hectares but a very distinctive wine label with a picture of the dog after which it is named. Since then, I’ve spotted their wines on several supermarket shelves in Europe. They produce white and red wines and Ridgeback is their premium label. This wine farm has gone for a relaxing water theme – there’s a pond at the back of the restaurant complete with waterfall and ducks and it makes a relaxing pit stop for a lazy lunch or afternoon drink.

The problem with wine tasting and cruising around the wine farms in the Winelands is that you either, like me, say “Oh, this one’s my favorite” every time you drive up the driveway of the next one; or you get more critical and compare every new one you visit with the previous one or your favorite.

After four wine farms, we call it a day and, as it’s 3 pm, we look out for somewhere to get an Afternoon Tea. Unfortunately, we have no luck. “When in Rome do as the Romans do” and when in the Winelands, drink wine!


  1. April 3, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    I try to head out to the Stellenbosch Winelands as often as I can and have had an amazing experience at every single wine farm I’ve visited (and I’ve visited plenty 🙂 )

  1. February 10, 2011 at 6:58 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: