South African Wine Touring
There are countless reasons to visit South Africa – the melting pot of different cultures, the gorgeous landscapes, and the diverse wildlife. For many travelers, a love of wine may be reason enough to visit this beautiful country. South Africa’s wine industry is flourishing with vineyards and wine valleys lining both the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Producing flavorful reds and crisp whites, wine tourism in South Africa has become a major business. We’ve put together a list of the best regions to visit in the country:
1. Constantia: One of the most popular tourist destinations in the country is Cape Town. With scenic views of Table Bay and lively festivals, it is a traveler’s delight. Travel just ten miles south of this major port and you will find the most famous and fruitful of South Africa’s wine regions: Constantia Valley. The roots of South Africa’s wine industry can be traced back to this area during the late 17th century, after the Dutch East India Company established a supply station in Cape Town. Its location near the Atlantic provides a cooling effect that allows the grapes to ripen over a longer period of time. The area is particularly famous for their Sauvignon Blanc. The valley has a wine route that leads visitors to tastings and tours at nine wineries, including Groot Constantia, the oldest vineyard in the region.
2. Stellanbosch: The second-oldest wine region in South Africa after Constantia, and one of the most famous, Stellanbosch is home to over 150 wineries and makes up for 14 percent of the country’s total wine production each year. With a Mediterranean climate and a wide range of soil rich in sandstone and granite (great for water retention), the Stellanbosch region is able to produce a wide array of grapes. These ideal conditions as well as the area’s history have made Stellanbosch one of the premiere wine destinations in all of South Africa. In 1971, the area became the first to establish a wine route and tourists can enjoy a specialized tour of the route. Stellanbosch is located alongside the Eerste River, about 30 miles east of Cape Town and offers a more historical feel to your wine touring experience.
3. Overberg: Located on the southern coast between the Cape Peninsula and the Garden Route, the Overberg region has a much cooler climate which has resulted in rising interest when it comes to wine production, especially with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Though the area is newer than Stellanbosch or Constantia when it comes to wine-making, it has already made a name for itself with award-winning wines coming from its Klein River ward. The slow-ripening grapes provide flavor while the rolling hills and mountain ranges surrounding the vineyards provide breathtaking scenery for visitors. In addition to wine tours and tastings, Overberg has many nature preserves worth visiting, like De Hoop Nature Reserve or Fernkloof. Or get up close with the local wildlife at Bontebok National Park or catch a glimpse of Stony Point’s Penguin Colony.
4. Breede River Valley: Running a distance of about 80 miles and located in the Western Cape Province, the Breede River Valley offers up a variety of wines from Cabernet Sauvignon to Shiraz and accounts for a great deal of the country’s overall wine. The Worcester district within the valley produces anywhere from 20 to 25 percent of South Africa’s total wine production. The region has a warmer climate with areas that can be dry and arid. The Breede River provides irrigation while the mountain ranges surrounding the valley on three sides help to protect the vineyards. Major roadways pass through the valley like the N1 highway, which connects Johannesburg and Cape Town, making the area easily accessible from either city.
If you’ve gotten the chance to try any of the rich and flavorful wines from the regions above, reach out and let us know some of your favorites in the comment section below. For those travelers who have not had the luxury of sampling South Africa’s wide array of increasingly popular wines, make sure to add the region to your travel list.