Fruit of the vine: There’s something inherently romantic about quaffing a glass just metres from where the farmers produce their crops, press their grapes and cellar their wine… so we’ve bottled it up and are serving the ultimate winelands day tour on a platter.
South Africa’s wine industry is like a well-cellared red. It is robust; its flavour profiles have harmonised and, with the passing of time, the product has improved with age. Whether you’re a wine connoisseur or just a lover of natural beauty, you’ll be swept up in the splendour of the Stellenbosch countryside with its tell-tale Cape Dutch thatching and rolling vineyards as we showcase four very different wining and dining experiences.
Set a leisurely pace as you leave the coast behind and head north towards wine country and the first of the handpicked wineries on the outskirts of Stellenbosch. Today’s journey is undoubtedly a visual feast, but your tastebuds are the real hero. After all, not all wines are created equal and in Cape Town’s Stellenbosch region – one of four wine districts that are easily accessible from the capital - Pinotage stands head and shoulders above the rest.
The paddock-to-plate partnership between wine makers, chefs, artisans and local producers rounds out today’s sensory journey. Here, in arguably South Africa’s most picturesque wine growing area, vintners pair their smooth reds and crisp whites with local produce – biltong (cured meat) and artisan ice-cream– in a delicate-yet-innovative partnership that enhances the wine’s flavours.
Your guide will uncover the mysteries, separate your Cabernets from your Cape Ruby and help you navigate the flavour profiles with ease. Wander your way past grapes on the vine and green valleys, to four top tier wine farms – Babylonstoren, Marianne Estate, Clos Malvern and Ernie Els Estate.
And for the true connoisseurs, no trip to wine country would be complete without a jaunt around the oak-lined streets of Stellenbosch’s historic old town, so that’s on the agenda too. And when the sampling is done, you can settle down for a snooze as you follow the setting sun back to Cape Town.
Let the tasting begin.
Sip on bold reds and try out your golf swing from the Ernie Els winery hillside into wineland views below.
Melt in your mouth spoonfuls of artisan ice cream paired with fine wine at Clos Malverne.
Savour iconic South African flavours with Marianne's red wine and biltong pairing.
Unwind with edgy wine in hand amid Babylonstoren's Cape Dutch farm-to-plate philosophy gardens.
Soak in views and raise a glass on the slopes of Uva Mira Mountain Vineyards.
Start with a morning pick-up from your accommodation in Cape Town.
Our wine experts custom-designed this tour to give you a real taste of the winelands region. Sample local produce, learn about flavour profiles and vintages and savour time sitting back and sampling some of South Africa’s finest in countryside views.
The day starts amongst the rustic fruit orchards and country gardens of Babylonstoren Estate where heady, herby smells are carried on the breeze and plump fruits hang ripe on trees. Groups of fatted ducks quack their way underfoot as guests tentatively explore the modest cheesery and handicraft store. In stark contrast to the water-colour-picture setting, the tasting room is a thoroughly modern affair and the wines add to the whimsical feel.
Then, it’s off down country laneways lined with leafy vineyards to the foothills of the Simonsberg Mountains and Marianne Estate. Here, the business of wine is a serious affair but the staff are warm and inviting. So too, their manta, South African terroir, French savoir-faire, pays homage to the estate’s Bordeaux heritage and French-style wines.
As morning fades, you’ll meaner through farmlands dotted with olives and grapes en-route to the Helderberg Mountains, which perfectly frame the verdant landscape. Clos Malvern is tucked away in a tranquil corner of the winelands. The farm’s reputation for great food and creatively innovative menus draw gourmands from all corners of the globe.
When the wine is flowing, it’s easy to work up a big appetite and your guide is happy to work with you to find the perfect fit – whether it’s wine farm restaurant or a sunny roadside restaurant in Stellenbosch’s old town, just a short hop from the winery. We’ll go with the flow.
The last course on this Taste the Winelands Tour offers spectacular views over the Stellenbosch region. But first, you’ll take what was the original wagon road to the Cape and climb steadily up the hillside. *Ernie Els’ namesake winery is perfectly placed amid hillsides covered with vines. Outdoor tables with big umbrellas take full advantage of commanding views out over wine country and to Table Mountain in the very distance. For avid golfers, there’s a chance to tee off with the pros; for photographers an opportunity to use the golden light to best advantage with stunning panorama shots. Fun whites and rich reds are quaffed and glasses raised in salute as the sun fades and the last tasty drop is drunk. Only then do you follow the sun and turn for home.
*An alternative wine estate (Uva Mira) will be visited when the Ernie Els tasting room is closed for renovations from June 2018.
End with an evening drop-off at your Cape Town accommodation.
This trip will run exclusively for you.
Led by a local English-speaking professional tour guide.
Private transfers to included tour highlights.
There is no central meeting point for this tour. A transfer service will collect you from your Cape Town accommodation.
Local and international flights are excluded.
You are responsible for your own personal travel insurance.
You can purchase meals + drinks on tour.
Since the beginning, working as a guesthouse manager 13-years ago, I have been involved in creating personalised experiences for people in the travel industry. It has grown into my work passion and I love being able to create tailor-made experiences for people that they will remember for the rest of their lives. In between doing that, I create my own memories and experiences by spending time with my family (usually on the beach), attending festivals and capturing it all with my camera.
Click terms for more details.
Full amount required to reserve or confirm a booking.
Children are welcome on private tours. Some activities will have age limits and alcohol may only be served to adults over 18 years of age.
11 official Languages Spoken
Afrikaans – English – isiNdebele – Sepedi.– Sesotho – Siswati – Xitsonga – Setswana – Tshivenda – isiXhosa
How to say hello?
Molo – Xhosa
Sawubona - Zulu
Hallo - Afrikaans
Dumela - SeSotho
Electricity – Volt & plug
The South African electricity supply is 220/230 volts AC 50 HZ. Most plugs are 15 amp 3-prong or 5 amp 2-prong, with round pins.
WiFi/Internet Access on tour
WiFi can be found at most accommodations, restaurants and airports, however, the download speed is often slow and many connections limit your data usage. In short, you’ll be able to stay connected with home, but don't expect to watch HD movies in your spare time.
When to go
South Africa is blessed with a mostly mild climate, but different areas will yield different temperatures throughout the year. Summer in South Africa is usually peak season, lasting between November – February, however Easter time (March) is often still considered peak season too. Temperatures range from 25ºC in coastal areas to high 30ºs in inland areas. Cape Town has ideal weather during this time and Durban sports warm beaches and humid air, Johannesburg experiences hot clear days and often an afternoon thunderstorm.
Shoulder season is April and May, as well as September and October. Surprisingly, the weather in Durban is often at its best during this time, and other areas simmer down from their scorching highs. Prices are lower and crowds are smaller. September and October see eruptions of flowers and blooms all around the country.
Winter is beautiful in most parts of the country. Cape Town experiences winter rain and is often a little cold and miserable, but still crisp and beautiful. Because of the warm Indian Ocean, Durban has spectacular weather in winter, often hovering around 20-25ºC with clear blue skies. Inland areas get quite chilly and the odd snowfall is not uncommon (it only lasts for a day though!). Prices are at an all time low and it is an ideal time for game viewing, as the animals are more active in the cooler weather.
Best time to go
Jun-Jul = Safari
Jan-Feb = Beach
With the possible exception of Christmas Day and New Year's Day, most tourist services and attractions are open on South African public holidays. In addition most city shopping centres, restaurants and entertainment venues remain open.
|1 Jan||New Year's Day|
|21 Mar||Human Rights Day|
|30 Mar||Good Friday|
|2 Apr||Family Day|
|27 Apr||Freedom Day|
|1 May||Workers' Day|
|16 Jun||Youth Day|
|9 Aug||National Women's Day|
|24 Sep||Heritage Day|
|16 Dec||Day of Reconciliation|
|17 Dec||Day of Reconciliation Holiday|
|25 Dec||Christmas Day|
|26 Dec||Day of Goodwill|
Visa & Travel docs
Travellers from most Commonwealth countries (excluding New Zealand), most Western European nations, Japan and the USA receive a free, 90-day visitor's permit on arrival. These travellers do not need a visa to enter South Africa. A valid passport is essential with at least two empty pages. You generally will need to show return or onward travel arrangements. Children aged under 18 must show an unabridged birth certificate (showing both parents details).
Some countries do, however, need a visa. Visas are not issued upon entry, they must be attained beforehand. It is advised that you clarify this before you leave, the Department of Home Affairs office has a comprehensive list of countries that do not require visas. http://www.dha.gov.za/index.php/immigration-services/exempt-countries
What to pack
We're generally laid back in South Africa, so no need to haul out your best silks and diamonds when you head to our shores. Here's some clothing advice when in South Africa:
Health & Safety
There are no compulsory vaccinations required to enter South Africa with exception of a yellow fever vaccination if you have been in a yellow fever area within the last 12 months.
The only major health risk you might face in South Africa is malaria, which is confined to small areas in the north-eastern parts of the country. Small pockets of the northern parts of the Kruger National Park fall under this area but the risk here is considered extremely low and it is not always necessary to take anti-malaria tablets. Remember as a precautionary measure to check with your accommodation what is recommended.
South Africa may have high crime statistics, but if you conduct yourself wisely, most tourists enjoy the country without any incident at all. Ensure that you lock away your passports and travel documents in a safe, which is usually provided by your accommodation. Don't flash around valuables and keep an eye on your belongings at all time. Majority of South Africa’s crime is opportunistic petty crime, so if you are vigilant about your belongings you should not have any problem.
South Africa has 3 world-class airports that receive international flights every day; Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town. Most international airlines will have flights into one or all of these airports daily.
There are numerous budget carriers that offer domestic flights between the major cities for very reasonable rates; this is the fastest and safest way to span large distances, especially between Johannesburg and Cape Town, which is a 2-hour flight.
From the airports there are numerous shuttles and taxis that you can pick up upon arrival, there are also many different car hire options at each airport and in all major cities. Uber is another reliable and affordable option.
Our currency in South Africa is the South African Rand. You can easily convert your currency to rand at a bank or Forex Bureau, the airports and larger towns often have many different Forex options. You can also withdraw from an ATM, banks are available throughout South Africa. Be sure to check what international bank charges you will incur for withdrawals before you arrive. Major credit cards are usually accepted in hotels or restaurants, however, there may be a surcharge. It is advisable to have small amounts of cash for curios and tipping.