Exploring the wine regions of South Africa
Famous for Mandela, Kruger National Park, and various gemstones and minerals, South Africa also boasts a collection of some of the world’s most terrific wine farms. Prepare to delve into four of our favourite vineyards around the Cape Town area, accompanied by our own travel health advice.
The trail kicks off in Paarl…
Less than an hour away from Cape Town (44 minutes by car), Paarl is the largest town in the Cape Wine-lands region. With so many great places to choose from, we couldn’t just pick one. So, if you are looking for the vineyard with the best traditional focus on wine, look no further than the KWV Emporium. For something a bit different, the KWV Sensorium is a perfect union of South African art, mixed with the fine art of wine-making. Together, they provide a great starting point for the seasoned veteran or the experimental beginner.
A specialised tour in the Wine Emporium will take you through its renowned Cathedral Cellar and show you the five largest vats in the world, all under one roof. You will then have a chance to try 6 of their finest products, including a delicious cake and liqueur pairing. The tour at the Sensorium is a lot more artsy, with a magnificent collection that is truly one of the best in the country. So why not try the chocolate and brandy pairing with a cultural side helping of art?
Set on the banks of the Berg River, Paarl is surrounded by mountains, and features intriguing Cape Dutch architecture. As well as the vineyards, why not check out one of the area’s many picturesque golf courses? And if you don’t fancy your putting game, maybe you might like to cheer on one of the ponies at the local Polo Club? Go, Biscuit, go!
Follow the trail to Franschhoek Valley…
14 minutes down the road, we have the French Hoguenots to thank for this South Africa gem. They settled here around 300 years ago, and brought with them their exquisite wine- making capabilities. Lynx Wines is a marvelous example of these classic French roots surviving the test of time.
Some of the most premium reds are produced at Lynx Wines, such as Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot, but none more coveted than the exceedingly popular Xanache, which is a Bordeuax-style blend. The personalised nature of this tour makes it very appealing, but so too do the inexpensive prices.
Residents of Franschhoek will testify to their town being the country’s gastronomical capital. Deciding where to eat will be hard indeed with so many top-notch restaurants to choose from. And timing your visit in July will make for a very enjoyable Bastille Day celebration, with all the brie you can eat too!
It’s Stellenboch next…
A 28-minute drive later, and we are in the second oldest European settlement in the province; second after Cape Town itself. Known as the City of Oaks for its oak-lined streets, it is clear to all that there are a multiple of different influences here. Stark Conde Wines encapsulates that essence with its eclectic collection.
The Three Pines Syrah is one of the most popular tipples, along with the Pinot Noir. Imagine sipping one of these beauties while sitting on a wooden deck in the middle of a lake, staring out at the incredible mountains opposite. Unsurprisingly, the atmosphere here is very relaxed - a perfect chance to contemplate life and all its wonders.
Steeped in history, Stellenboch is full of many interesting museums. The architecture of the town is a mixture of Dutch Cape, Georgian, and Victorian, so with its oaky backdrop, there are plenty of photo opportunities. It also gets a bit livelier at night, so this would be a good chance to schedule in some bar time… If you’re still standing from all the wine that is!
We round things off at Constantia…
A slightly longer trip than the others, but only 30 minutes from Cape Town, and definitely worth the 1 hour and 10 minute drive from Stellenboch. It’s a place literally built for wine farming. And with so many wineries to visit, we recommend Buitenverwatching - Incredibly difficult to pronounce, but incredibly easy to enjoy.
Generous servings, and immaculate customer service are what you can expect from this smaller-sized winery. The Buiten Blanc is hailed as a must-try crowd-pleaser, and the Christen Red is a very close runner. Compliment these tastes with the award-winning restaurant next door, sampling also the breath-taking views, or alternatively, picnic outside on the scenic estate lawns.
Beyond all the wineries of this town, there is also a chance to visit the Alphen Antiques and Collectables Fair, which is on the second and fourth Sunday of every month. The Constantia Village Shopping Centre also has antique dealers, as well as art galleries, fashion boutiques, and interior decor emporiums. For those that need to walk some wine off, there is a nature walk along the Constantia green belts, which takes about 1 hour to complete. But feel free to take as long as you need. It’s been quite the wine trail, indeed!
Health and vaccinations for South Africa
Hepatitis A is a disease spread via contaminated food and water and is prevalent in South Africa. Vaccination is advisable to all visitors at least 10 days before arrival to ensure optimal protection. The diphtheria, tetanus and polio vaccination is normally given in the UK as part of the childhood immunisation program and travellers should ensure this is up to date. There have been a number of outbreaks of diphtheria throughout South Africa in the past few months. Diphtheria is a very contagious bacterial disease which presents similarly to flu. It can be fatal if left untreated. Symptoms include sore throat, cough and high temperature.
There is a low risk of malaria throughout the majority of South Africa, except for Kruger national park and surrounding areas which are considered high risk zones. For high risk zones, anti-malarial tablets are recommended. Either Doxycycline, Larium or Malarone are most effective for these regions and can be purchased in our clinics prior to travel. A good mosquito repellent should be used in both high and low risk zones. Mosquitos can carry a variety of other diseases, some of which are not vaccine preventable and so good bite prevention methods are essential.
Travellers going to South Africa for extended periods might want to consider vaccination courses of Hepatitis B and Rabies. Hepatitis B is spread via blood and bodily fluids, so is highly recommended for those who are working in hospitals or long term visitors. Rabies is spread via animal bites and is recommended for those working directly with animals or long term travellers. Both of these vaccinations require 3 doses given over a period of a month, so plan early to ensure you have time to receive the full course.