One of our very favorite things to do is to visit wineries (I mean, who doesn’t enjoy some good wine tasting?). From Napa & Sonoma Valleys in California to Willamette Valley in Oregon, to Niagara-on-the-Lake in Ontario, Canada, we have visited our fair share of wineries. While all wonderful in their own right, our absolute favorite wine region is the Cape Winelands of South Africa. Only forty-five minutes from Cape Town, this region offers one of the most picturesque and stunning landscapes we have ever seen. The lush and mountainous surroundings provide the perfect backdrop for savoring delicious wines and their accompaniments. The majority of the vineyards are found in Stellenbosch, Franshhoek, and Paarl (stay tuned for a future Franschhoek post) and produce grape varietals including (but certainly not limited to) Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Grenache, Petit Verdot, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, and the star and “son” of South Africa, Pinotage. That wine though. Wow. Some of the best wines we have ever had.
Where We Stayed: La Petite Dauphine
We spent three magical days in the Cape Winelands and stayed at the luxurious La Petite Dauphine in Franschhoek. Situated on a working fruit and wine farm, the property is completely secluded and surrounded by beautiful gardens. We stayed in one of the cottages (“Suite 1- Luxury Suite”) and found it to be spacious, exquisitely decorated, and extremely comfortable. Dining at the estate’s Bon Bon Cafe was superb and the wine was equally sublime. Service was outstanding and the location was exceptional. This is one of the best places we’ve ever stayed–highly recommend.
Outside of our cottage:
View from our cottage:
Prior to our trip, I had booked private tours for each of our three days. While most tour operators do offer group tours, we opted for private tours. Each private tour allowed us to our customize our vineyard visits and work closely with our own driver and guide…of course private tours do tend be more expensive. For us, being able to have input and visit the vineyards on our own schedule was well worth the extra cost.
All three tour companies were wonderful and I recommend booking with any one of them.
*Tsiba Tsiba Tours: Our favorite company of the three. Our driver and guide was the owner of the organization and was extremely knowledgeable, professional, and gregarious. He knew the region like the back of his hand and has been in the wine business for years. The tour included pick-up from our Cape Town Hotel, which was super convenient. Cannot recommend this company enough.
*La Rochelle Tours: They offered a number of different tours and we selected the “Full Day Chocolate, Cheese, Olive Oils, and Wine Tour”. These very four things are among my favorite things in the entire world. Seriously–what could possibly be bad about this tour? Nothing, that’s what. A gluttonous and glorious day to say the least. Another wonderful tour company.
*Bikes and Saddle Tours: A fun (and somewhat precarious as we visited more wineries!) cycling tour through the Franschhoek wine region–definitely recommend this active tour –more about this in a future post.
Stellenbosch Wine Estates:
*Stark-Conde Wines: One of our favorite wineries of the trip. Both the setting and wine were magnificent. Photos don’t do this place justice–absolutely breathtaking.
This is the estate’s tasting room. I knowww…it was just terrible.
*Tokara Wine Estate & Olive Farm: Fabulous wine and olive pairings, olive oil tastings and an impressive gallery of art. Olive you, Tokara.
*Lanzerac Wine Estate: Wonderful wine & chocolate pairings; 300 year old estate that bottled the world’s first pinotage.
*Delaire Graff Estate: Quite possibly the most lavish and stunning wine estate we have ever visited. Those views! Enjoying a sumptuous lunch paired with countless glasses of wine on the verandah was one of the highlights of our wine region visit. Honestly, I could have just visited here and would have been completely happy. If I could go back to any past places we’ve traveled to, this estate would certainly be high on that list. Incredible is an understatement.
*Anura Wine Farm: Excellent wine and cheese pairings in a simple and rustic setting
Thank you, Stellenbosch for leaving us drunk, happy, and absolutely smitten. You put the stellar in Stellenbosch.
Till (hopefully) next time!
Wine Not? Planning Your Stellenbosch Visit:
Where We Stayed:
Stellenbosch Wine Estates:
*We traveled to South Africa in Summer 2014.