Day TourA whole day opens up the wineries of Stellenbosch and Paarl. As you drive along the roads you will see signposts bearing the familiar names of wines you have tasted at home. But you are never far from the N1 and N2 motorways that will get you back to Cape Town in 30 minutes, so you can easily break off from my suggested route. My route is intended to be easy to follow, basically we use the R44 between the N2 and N1, and intended to show a variety of interesting wineries, most with cellar tours. But of course you can stop at any winery that looks interesting.
From Cape Town take the N2 motorway past the international airport, for about 30 minutes until the junction with route 44 where you turn left. Follow route 44 towards Stellenbosch. Take the second right (at the Lord Charles Hotel) into Somerset West and turn left on Lourensford Road where you will find Vergelegen Winery. Take a guided tour of the Cellar. Impressive engineering has sunk the cellar vertically into a hilltop, like some headquarters of a Bond villain. There are great views from the top over False Bay towards Table Mountain. The lovely grounds of the estate contain stately homes, ancient Camphor Trees, declared a national monument in 1942 and Lady Phillips Tea Garden.
Returning back to route 44 continue towards Stellenbosch. Vineyards flank the road. Flag posts on the right flank the entrance to Avontuur, whose wines are stocked in Waitrose. The grounds contain a horse stud and there is a tasting room.
As you come close to Stellenbosch look for the signs for Blauklippen, right. This old winery has a large tasting room; check the little side room by the door, there are end of lines there including some very old wines at ridiculously cheap prices. Do book the cellar tour to see the cramped ancient cellar. It fascinates me that wine exported worldwide comes from such a small and old-fashioned hand crafted operation where the labels are stuck on by hand. There is also a shop selling homemade produce, ice cream and souvenirs including a good selection of polo and t-shirts. In the grounds you can take a horse drawn buggy ride through the vineyards. But it's all change at Blauklippen as the new owner is making great changes. A grand entrance road is being constructed and visitors are now also welcome on Sundays.
By now you'll probably feel like lunch. Continue on Route 44 through Stellenbosch. Look for the sign for L'Avenir on the left and take the next right, at the sign for Delheim. Follow the road, taking a left (if the road turns to a mud road, you have gone too far.) You'll drive through Muratie Estate (makers of South Africa's first Pinot Noir) and at the end of the road is Delheim. Lunch is served in an open-air restaurant under shade. I recommend their stunning filo rolls stuffed with bobotie and served with rice, salad, chutney and roasted sweet potatoes. You are high on the slopes of Simonsberg mountain; the view is wonderful with Table Mountain in the distance, the air is refreshing and clear. Ensure you finish lunch by 14:30 as the cellar tour departs from the restaurant entrance then. If you are here at vintage time you'll see grapes being emptied into the crusher and walk over twisting pipes and through puddles of juice and spilled grapes, getting a real feel of being in working winery. Tasting takes place in the cellar bar by the restaurant. You must buy a tasting ticket from the booth at the winery entrance, sit at tables and choose five wines from their list served by the keen and knowledgeable staff who lead the winery tours. Ask them why their late harvest dessert wine is called Sparrowshit (Spatzendreck).
The tasting room at Kanonkop
Back down to route 44 and turn right. A short distance ahead on the right you'll see a cannon on a white plinth. That marks the entrance to Kanonkop Estate. Just the tasting room is open to the public, but this estate makes Pinotage that all others are judged by. Pinotage is the variety created in Stellenbosch by crossing Cinsaut and Pinot Noir. You can drink your wine under a canopy of grapevines outside.
A very short distance further along Route 44 on the left is Warwick Estate. This is one of few wineries with a female winemaker. Norma Ratcliffe is the co-owner winemaker, and the winery office is behind the tasting room. She sometimes assists with pouring wines for tastings, so if your pourer is short lady with a big grin and a Canadian accent, thats Norma.
Continue north on route 44. You can make a choice now. Join the N1, turning left, for a very speedy return to Cape Town, or turn right just before the N1 and take the first left under the N1 until you come to Fairview. Fairview wines are available in Sainsburys. They have a herd of goats - the unusual goat tower that features on their labels is next to the car park. As well as wine tasting, you can try their cheeses. Fairview are making wines from varieties rare in SA such as Mourvedre, Viognier, and Zinfandel as well as more traditional varieties. Also available here are wines with the Spice Route label and Fair Valley, the fledgling winery operated by Fairview workers. Look out for bargain bins and rare wines.
And return to the N1. Cape Town is just thirty minutes away.Wineries Vergelegen
tours 10.30 11.30 1500