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South Africa is the world's 9th-largest wine producer, and the vast majority of its 500-odd estates are concentrated within a 100 km (62 miles) radius of Cape Town. The first Cape Wine was produced by Governor van der Stel in 1685 at Groot Constantia, on the Cape Peninsula south of central Cape Town. Van der Stel's estate was divided five ways after his death, and these farms all remain active today. Groot Constantia and Buitenverwachting ("Beyond Expectation") are recommended for fine wine and lovely Cape Dutch architecture, while Constantia Uitsig boasts a superb restaurant. Van der Stel it was who founded the country's second oldest town, ...

South Africa is the world's 9th-largest wine producer, and the vast majority of its 500-odd estates are concentrated within a 100 km (62 miles) radius of Cape Town. The first Cape Wine was produced by Governor van der Stel in 1685 at Groot Constantia, on the Cape Peninsula south of central Cape Town. Van der Stel's estate was divided five ways after his death, and these farms all remain active today. Groot Constantia and Buitenverwachting ("Beyond Expectation") are recommended for fine wine and lovely Cape Dutch architecture, while Constantia Uitsig boasts a superb restaurant. Van der Stel it was who founded the country's second oldest town, Stellenbosch, which now houses a major university and several Cape Dutch buildings and museums. Stellenbosch lies at the heart of the Winelands and is the epicenter of several wine routes, the best of which leads along winding mountain roads to the lush Franschhoek ("French Corner") Valley and its many award-winning restaurants. Other architecturally interesting towns in the Winelands include Paarl and Tulbagh. When it comes to visiting wine estates, there's much to be said for following your nose, but Boschendal near Franschhoek and Vergelegen near Somerset West stand out for the combination of great wines and striking architecture.

Philip Briggs
About the Expert

Philip Briggs has written or contributed to 50-plus editions of Bradt, Insight, AA and Berlitz guidebooks to African destinations.

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Philip Briggs for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Region of the Western Cape Province of South Africa, includes six main wine regions: Constantia, Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Paarl, Robertson and Wellington
  • Language: Afrikaans, Xhosa, English, Sotho, Zulu, Tswana
  • Currency: South African Rand
  • Research: Cape Winelands | Wikitravel
  • Weather: Rainfall | Daylight
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Unlike most of South Africa, this is a winter rainfall area, best visited during the summer months of November-April.