Any trip to Cape Town would be incomplete without a visit to the best Stellenbosch wineries in the Cape Winelands. Discover a dozen incredible wine tasting experiences and plan a Stellenbosch wine tour.
After three months in Europe, we were wary about the wine situation in South Africa.
On our flight to South Africa, Daryl expressed trepidation about the wine situation. South Africa is, more or less, a new world wine region that is growing in popularity. He wondered whether wines from places like Stellenbosch would be branded with the kind of overinflated wine prices that remove the day to day joy from wine drinking like in the Americas.
Mindi, meanwhile, was so excited by the prospect of drinking bold new wines from the Cape Town wineries that she could barely contain herself during the long flight to Cape Town. She looked forward to drinking some good table wine at affordable prices much like we did throughout France, Spain and Italy.
In fact, she started enjoying South African wine on the flight.
As fate would have it, we were both wrong. South African wines are even cheaper and better than we imagined.
And we’re talking about world-class quality here. Yes, the Cape Winelands has carved a wine identity with signature varietals like Pinotage and Chenin Blanc, but the astounding quality wines produced from common grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc and even Chardonnay surprised us. No, let’s rephrase that…
We were pleasantly shocked by the quality of wine in South Africa.
For two and a half glorious months, we spent the equivalent of just 4 to 5 US dollars for delightfully quaffable Cabernets and Merlots with scents of berries on their nose; lean yet rich Chenin Blancs with scents and flavors of stone fruit and melon. Even better, $10-12 bought us age-worthy wines with earthy complexity, minerality and hints of leather in the bouquet.
Let it be said that we are wine lovers and not wine experts. Beyond tannins, acidity, mouthfeel and a low-level understanding of olfactory descriptions, our understanding of wine can best be described as above average. That being said, we drink a lot of wine and we know what we like.
We’ve tasted some of the greatest vintages of the last 30 years including wines from Bordeaux, Burgundy, Piemonte, Alsace and Tuscany. We’ve enjoyed great wines from California, Oregon and Australia. We can’t give a technical dissertation, but we will say this:
The wines of the Cape Winelands (Stellenbosch in particular) are extraordinary. As a bonus, world-class South African wines won’t bust your wallet.
To make the South Africa wine situation even better, many of the great South African wines are produced in one of the most beautiful places on earth – Stellenbosch. In Stellenbosch, vineyards are set at the foot of jutting mountain peaks shrouded by misty clouds that evoke a Shangri-la like landscape.
The quality of Stellenbosch wine should be no surprise since the Stellenbosch weather is ideal for growing grapes. Everything about its mineral-rich soil to Southern South Africa’s hot, dry climate allows grapes to reach their potential. In other words, Stellenbosch wine producers have an enviable palette for their work.
Best of all, wine tasting in Stellenboschf is a casual experience that visitors can easily enjoy without pomp and circumstance. At wineries like Peter Falke Wines, it’s entirely possible to buy wine (we recommend an affordable bottle of Cab), plop down on a bean bag chair in the beautifully manicured garden, order a wonderful cheese sampling and melt into the bucolic, golden sunset – a sunset that you’ll remember for the rest of your life.