Although it’s known as a “New World” producer, South Africa can look back at a wine-making tradition of some three and a half centuries, with the first vintage rolling out a few years after the first European settlement. They’ve had a long time to get things right and their products are welcomed by wine lovers around the world, either as pleasant table wines or more sophisticated boutique varieties.
Sampling these viticultural riches at the source is one of the great pleasures of visiting South Africa. What’s more, with very few exceptions they’re all located in the Western Cape and thus readily accessible from Cape Town, the country’s most popular destination. The Breede River Valley, Stellenbosch and Paarl are just some of the regional centers associated with wine-growing, and you don’t even have to leave Cape Town to enjoy a drop in the impressive Cape Dutch surrounds of Constantia.
Wine tasting is one of those occasions when it really makes sense to join a tour. Public transport options between vineyards are more or less non-existent, and it’s not worth the risk of going over the limit if you’re driving. In areas like Franschhoek, the landscape is as inspiring as the wine, so sit back and enjoy it.
If you like a drop but don’t classify yourself as a vino aficionado, don’t be afraid to ask questions. The vintner will usually line glasses up in a row and explain the origin, special characteristics of each one and suggest food pairings. Even though huge amounts of wine are exported, you’ll usually get the chance to try experimental varieties or limited batches which never make it out of the country. Cheers!
Make it an extra special experience with a VIP Cape Winelands helicopter tour with wine tasting and dinner.