South Africa's Western Cape produces some of the New World's finest wine, and has some of its most historic wine estates, where visitors can meet the winemakers, enjoy the fruits of their labour and order their wines to be shipped home at discounted rates, all while enjoying cheese, olives or fine food in the beautiful countryside dotted with rolling vineyards and mountains.
The main wine producing regions of South Africa are nestled together in the Western Cape and most are accessible from Cape Town on a day trip. Key regions include the R62 route, which covers world-renowned farms in Stellenbosch, Robertson, Franschhoek and Paarl. Some of the oldest and most picturesque vineyards in the Western Cape are Groot Constantia - only a short drive from the centre of Cape Town - and Boschendal, in the heart of Stellenbosch, whose wines are highly acclaimed and awarded. Nederberg in Paarl is one of South Africa's leading and most decorated wineries, winning numerous international and domestic awards. But although young, Kleine Zalse in Stellenbosch is hot on its heels. The Swartland, Overberg and Botrivier regions are all known for their distinctive Cabernet Sauvignon and spicy Shiraz, while the south coastal region is renowned for its crisp, dry Sauvignon Blanc due to the Atlantic sea breeze.
Outside of the Cape, the eastern KwaZulu-Natal coast is new to the wine scene but is showing signs of promise, while some wonderful wine is produced in the Orange River valley where the river creates a cool microclimate that favours white wines. Whether opting to drive yourself or do an organised tour, there are so many farms to be visited that wine-tasting in South Africa, like a fine, well-aged Cabernet, should be enjoyed slowly with friends.