Before you even land in Cape Town, you’ll be overwhelmed with wine tasting options. The land surrounding the city is awash with vines – and some very high-spec cellars, estates and restaurants just waiting to pair their crisp whites and bold reds with seasonal menus. And, well, you really should take them up on their offerings. Book a tasting session, reserve a table or pop yourself on a tour. If you love your wines, you’ll love Cape Town. Wine farms here aren’t just a place for tourists to pack their cases with a few bottles of Shiraz. Socialising, places to see and be seen, picnics and intimate gigs all take place on the estates. With vineyard numbers approaching mindboggling, we’ve picked out the ones that stand out, for THE very best reasons. Easy to access, unusual approaches to grape growing and even a plant-based option for any vegan wine lovers among you.
Cape Town Vineyards
Rarely will you find us telling you to board a Hop On, Hop Off tour bus. But in Cape Town, the Blue Route’s stop 21 drops you right outside the gates of Beau Constantia Vineyard, one of Cape Town’s best wine farms. Not that they tell you that on any of the bus tour literature. And, yes the big red bus company do their own Cape Town wine tour – but not to this specific vineyard. And, Beau is the one you want. Floor to ceiling glass is all that separates you from the vines and the Helderberg and Stellenbosch sweeping views beyond. So sweeping in fact, the vineyard has even made sure you can have a good gawp from the W.C. Make a reservation – this vineyard does get busy, and sample their small but award-winning collection of wines.
Music to your tastebuds
What are your thoughts on classical music? At DeMorgenzon Vineyard, they love the stuff. Well, they love the effect it has on their vines. Piping classical music into the cellar, winery and vineyard since 2009, this is a vineyard that does things a little differently. Wildflowers are sown between the vines, for biodiversity. But the whole estate is effectively a 55 hectare vineyard within 91 hectares of lush gardens. In depth soil analysis, tech, conservation and philanthropist owners make this estate so fascinating you could almost overlook the wines. Do pop into their tasting room though. Whether you like Baroque music or not – something’s working here. Their scientific approach has resulted in some fabulous wines.
Restaurants in Cape Town have seen the vegan light, but the vineyards have been slow to follow. And while you’ll not yet find an all-vegan wine farm in Cape Town, we think the Neethlingshof Estate is one of the best plant-based options. Before we talk food, it pays to know that all of the estate’s reds – and the newest whites are vegan. If in doubt, avoid anything pre 2019. Which means, wine-wise, you can taste mostly to your heart’s content. Now, that food we mentioned. Yes, the menu is meat-heavy. And, yes, your vegan options are small. But, and it’s a big BUT, those dishes are done superbly. We rate the estate because travellers of all dietary persuasions can enjoy a tasting session – and meal here. And there’s nothing better than enjoying a bold red in good company.
Cape Town Wine Tours
Hop on the Wine Tram
No need to appoint a designated driver on this tour. Those Hop on Hop off buses we mentioned earlier? They link up with a wine tram to take you to some Franschhoek wineries. Two routes are available, with 8 estates on each route. It has to be said, nipping in to all 8 wine farms lends itself more to a wine crawl than a wine tour. Of course, you can be more discerning and just choose the farms you want to stop at. Hopping on and off at your leisure keeps things from ever feeling too hurried and Franschhoek itself is a quaint village distraction from the city lights of Cape Town.
Expect to pay R580 (~£27) for the ticket – which includes coach travel from Cape Town – plus wine tasting, lunch and associated wine farm costs.
Exclusive and bespoke
If you’re looking to really get to grips with your grape varietals, learn about crops, cultivation and corkage – Luhambo’s private tour is the one. You’ll get your very own wine expert to whisk you to wine farms in and around Cape Town. Pick out your own vineyards, or let your expert guide you on a Cape Town wine tour of their choice. Expect to start sampling early. This tour leaves at 9am and takes you through Stellenbosch and Franschhoek (if you choose their standard, rather than bespoke, tour). Four wine estates – a stop for lunch, though this is at your own expense, and a guide with tips on everything from Cape Town’s best shopping to South African culture. A private tour for two comes in at R2250 (~£105) per person. With the added cost of lunch and wine this isn’t the cheapest tour – but you’re paying for exclusivity and your own expert for the day.
Orbzii Tip: Find some friends to bring along. If there are 6 of you, the price drops to R1350 (~£62.50) per person.
Adventure in Wine Country
This small group tour is as much about the fun and friendly vibe as it is the wine. Make no mistake, there will be plenty of both. Limited to small numbers – think 10 people max – you’ll soon get to know your tour mates as you flit from glass to glass, vineyard to farm and cellar to countryside views. African Story Tours pack a lot into your day tour of wine farms in Cape Town. You’ll learn about the history of South African wine – right through to whether to store your wine … or not. Wine and your health, viticulture, varietals, comparing, tasting, wine types and wine production are all covered. You’ll come away with a new knowledge of the region, the wines and the pick of the top estates – all for R1100 (£51) per person. Great value when you realise this also includes all tastings, cheese, an a la carte lunch and more. Depending on where you’re staying in Cape Town, they’ll also pick you up.
Orbzii Tip: Eat, eat, eat. Breakfast, snacks – anything to fortify your system against the volume of wine that will come your way on this tour. Pours are generous and lunch rarely appears before 2pm.
Ready to dazzle your tastebuds with Cape Town’s wine tasting options? Pop the Orbzii app on your phone and you’ll be swirling a glass in the sun in no time.