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Western Cape, South Africa: Winery Tour


When you think of wine country, where does your mind wonder?

Napa Valley? The French countryside? Areas of Argentina and New Zealand maybe?


How about South Africa?

When I think of South Africa, my mind doesn’t think of wine, but boy was I wrong. Over the years, South African wine has been a pleasant surprise world-wide, growing fresh and award winning grapes that have scored perfectly. While in the area, my sister and I decided to take a tour of one main wine region in Western Cape: Stellenbosch.


Prior to our visit, we knew that we wanted to explore this region for at least a day, but did not know the best route to take. Rent a car? Buy tickets on a hop-on-hop-off bus? After a bad experience trying to book a private tour though a major company, I stumbled upon Airbnb Experiences. Here we found the tour: “Cape Wines with the Wine Guru” (https://www.airbnb.com/experiences/11132) with consistent, excellent reviews of the experience. We kind of felt like we were taking a chance with this one, I had never done an Airbnb “Experience” before.


Let me tell you, it ended up being the highlight of our Cape Town trip.



First Stop: Villiera

We were picked up at our home in Cape Town, which we had prearranged with David, the “Wine Guru.” First and foremost, let me say that David is an excellent guide. He is extremely insightful, personable, engaging, and relaxed. As someone with a plethora of questions, he answered all of them honestly and thoughtfully. On our drive into the region, he gave us an intro into who he is, his background, hobbies and impressive credentials, as well an overview of what to expect out of the day and some insights into the history of Cape wine.


Soon, we rolled into Villiera. The long driveway up to the main area is surrounded by the grape fields with a clear, gorgeous view of the mountain range. On sight, we toured the beautiful grounds (there are some giraffes and other animals that live there too, although we didn’t search for any) and then made our way into the cellars. After taking an extremely interesting cellar tour, we made our way to the outdoor patio where we tasted multiple wines that David had selected with advice on the best ways to taste and try. He even had us try steel vs barrel wine back-to-back, to get a better idea of what our personal pallets prefer. This vineyard is owned by a brother-sister duo, and we met the female owner and chatted while tasting. After trying four or five wines, we headed to our next stop.


PS. I purchased a gorgeous and tasty bottle as a Christmas present for my father here!




Second Stop: Hoopenburg Wines

Just down the road, Hoopenburg has a notably smaller and less touristy vibe, as we drive down the dirt road to an intimate main building. Right away, we were greeted by one of the owners, who walked out of his office to catch up with David. This smaller operation gave us a good insight on what typical wineries around the region are like.


We went into different rooms full of barrels, each trying different grape & barrel combinations that might make the perfect drink. Then we sat down, had a wonderful conversation with the winery manager, and even got to try some unique tastings that weren’t typically for the public in South Africa.


We learned a tremendous amount about the feelings of those who run these wineries, the recent droughts that South Africa has struggled with, and how the wine region is expanding and growing notoriously world-wide.



Third Stop: Mitre’s Edge

Next, we took a longer drive to one of the most gorgeous vineyards I have ever been to. If you are looking for a remote homestay- they also have an airbnb that they rent out. We were immediately greeted by dog after dog, all so friendly and adorable. We wandered around petting them, as they lay, relaxing on the cool tile floor. Although we didn’t get to see the “backstage” area of this winery, it had to be my favorite stop. We sat down in the dining room area with the owner, and she took us through multiple wines with cheese pairings she had selected herself. I was in heaven, tasting different cheeses and sips of wine, while an adorable dog sat at my feet and we chatted about South Africa and her business.


Highly suggest this spot!




Fourth Stop: Middelvlei

Following Mitre’s Edge, it was time for our wine stop that included some lunch. This winery is perfect if you have a family that wants to sit around the table, drink, and eat a classic braai. Braai is essentially the equivalent of a US barbecue. We were brought homemade potato salad, Boerewors (South African farmer’s sausage), braai broodjie (essentially cheese and tomato paninis), and wine. We sat down, shared stories, and had an amazing lunch with a great view. David shared with us different experiences he has had living in South Africa, his family, and his past relationship with Nelson Mendala. It was such a wonderful conversation, I was able to ask various questions about the region and its difficult history. David seems extremely well informed, open minded, thoughtful, and clearly motivated by equality and justice.


We then moved to the area where the magic happens, viewing old vats where wine was made and stored. We got to taste test wine right out of the barrel and even try a few experimental tastings they were working on in the back.




Fifth Stop: Boschkloof

Finally, we made our way to beautiful Boschkloof. This open winery is a perfect place to visit if you want a nice sip on a porch, looking out into wine country. They have an unbelievable record of notable wines, with perfect scores. If you are a big wino- this will be a great spot for you. We sat down, enjoyed some snacks and conversation, and tasted some of South Africa’s bests!



All in all, the whole experience was phenomenal. Whether you go for a scheduled tour, or rent a car and escape Cape Town on your own, I highly suggest these stops! We tried dozens of delicious wines, all of which had a unique and delicious taste to them.There are so many ways to visit wine country, but we definitely scored with this tour. Find the one that is best for you, and enjoy!



Planning a trip to South Africa?




Written & Photographed by Emi Lungmus

Edited by Anna McCarthy

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