Holiday Properties in the Cape Winelands
The stunning mountain backdrops, rolling vineyards, superb restaurants and historic Cape Dutch architecture make the Cape Winelands a fabulous place to visit for a few days not only for the serious wine connoisseur but for anyone with an interest in South African heritage, good food or just relaxing in beautiful surroundings. The characterful, centuries old Cape Winelands towns of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek within easy reach of Cape Town offer a wide range of accommodation and serve as the perfect base to fully enjoy and explore the area.
Here is our selection of wonderful places to stay in the Cape Winelands followed by some further information on this beautiful and historic region -
Starting less than an hour's drive from Cape Town lie the rolling vineyards, towering mountains and historic wine estates of the Cape Winelands. One of the most scenic wine regions in the world there are literally hundreds of wine estates to choose from in this small area offering great wine tasting and purchasing opportunities, but also with countless opportunities to enjoy fabulous culinary experiences. These range from some of the finest and most highly rated restaurants in South Africa to the simple yet sublime joy of relaxing on a summer's day with a picnic hamper and chilled bottle of wine in the beautiful grounds of centuries' old wine farms.
Franschhoek, just an hour and a half's drive from Cape Town, is rightly known as the culinary capital of South Africa, with numerous award winning restaurants lining it's pretty main street and others enjoying stunning views from the many beautiful old wine estates hugging the lower slopes of the mountainous Franschhoek valley.
Franschhoek (or "French Corner" in Dutch) was originally settled in the late 17th century by French Huguenot wine farmers and there is still evidence of this legacy today with a major Bastille Day festival in Franschhoek every June and many wine estates still retain their original historic farmhouses and are named after the areas of France where the settlers came from, such as La Motte, Chamonix, and Cabriere.
For long a sleepy country retreat, Franschhoek has boomed in popularity since the 1990's and the main village road is now lined with chic cafes and trendy bistros, upmarket shops selling local arts and crafts and several highly acclaimed restaurants that have built reputations not only within South Africa but internationally as well. Consistently acclaimed as one of the country's best restaurants, the Tasting Room at Le Quartier Francais takes some beating but we have also long enjoyed Reubens Restaurant across the road, and lunch with gorgeous views of the valley at La Petite Ferme is always a fabulous Franschhoek experience.
Less than an hour's drive from Cape Town, and 30 scenic minutes from Franschhoek, Stellenbosch was founded in 1679 and is the second oldest town in South Africa after Cape Town. It was named after then Governor Simon van der Stel and still has some fine examples of early Cape Dutch architecture. Wines from the Stellenbosch region are known internationally and some of the reds especially rank among the best in the world. Stellenbosch is also home to one of the country's oldest established universities, so there is a bustling night life during the university term-time, with many bars and night clubs.
Stellenbosch is small enough that the entire town centre can easily be covered on foot and it's a very pleasant walk too, along beautiful old oak lined streets, past historic old Cape Dutch buildings, stopping to enjoy the many interesting craft shops and art galleries, or to eat at the excellent range of cafes and restaurants around town.
Some of the best fine dining restaurants in the Stellenbosch area are to be found on the wine estates themselves, including the Jordan wine estate's restaurant, Overture (at Hidden Valley), Rust en Vrede and Camphors at the historic Vergelegen estate all of which were voted in the top ten restaurants in South Africa in 2013. We also recommend enjoying a relaxing picnic at one of the many wine farms that offer picnic baskets on their lawns over summer, our favourites also being at Vergelegen and at Boschendal and Solms Delta estates on the way to Franschhoek from Stellenbosch.
It is hard to select just a few wine estates to mention with literally hundreds to choose from but in the Stellenbosch area our own personal favourites for tastings include Glen Carlou, Warwick, Waterford and Thelema whereas close to Franschhoek we recommend Boschendal, Haute Cabriere and Boekenhoutskloof wine estates.