6 Wineries that Encapsulate South Africa's Unique Wine Culture

South African tour company Sideways shares their top picks

Image via Sideways

No visit to Cape Town is complete without experiencing some of the country’s finest wineries and beautiful wine regions. These destinations encapsulate the unique wine culture and lifestyle of the inhabitants of the regions enjoyed by visitors from all over the world. With so much to do and choose from, deciding where to go can prove to be challenging.

That’s why we’ve recommended the following six wineries to add to your holiday itinerary while visiting Cape Town. We’ve also put together some of the most common wine terminology that will help you navigate the winelands with ease. 

Image via Sideways

Boschendal

Boschendal wine estate is one of the oldest farms in South Africa, dating back to the late 1600s. It still features the original manor house built in the Cape Dutch style so easily recognized by its white washed walls and sweeping gables associated with the design. Today, exclusive tastings are conducted in the very rooms where guests would have been hosted over 300 years ago.

Situated within the Drakenstein Valley, Boschendal has become a popular tourist attraction, not just because of its rich history dating back well over 300 years but because of the extensive list of activities one can engage in. If you’re looking to extend your experience into the evening, the flagship restaurant, The Werf, offers an authentic dining experiences with their predominantly organic and menu focusing on local produce.

From wine tastings to mountain bike trails, from accommodation to vineyard tours, the estate offers the perfect opportunity for one to enjoy the surrounding natural beauty of the region and learn about what it takes to produce world class wines. 

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AA Badenhorst Family Wines

Situated on Kalmoesfontein farm in the Swartland, AA Badenhorst Family Wines is owned by rustic pioneers and cousins, Hein and Adi Badenhorst. Their aim was to restore the original, neglected cellar to its former glory and begin producing wines with a natural, hands off approach. Using the original wine making equipment Adi Badenhorst, the winemaker of the pair, is able to produce quality wines with great texture, aroma and flavor and a great representation of the Swartland region.

During the off season, Adi and his team spend their time getting creative with side projects like Caperitif and Swaan Tonic. Known as the ‘ghost ingredient’ in a number of classic cocktails of South African origin due to its murky past and forgotten history, Caperitif is not produced anywhere else in the world and is unique to South Africa. The Badenhorst team have spent a large portion of their time recreating Caperitif.

Another product Adi produces is his own blend of tonic water. Growing tired of having to find products at cost effective prices to help keep their menu competitive, the team began to brew their own tonic water in a number of flavors. These flavors include quinine, lime-mint and cardamom, to mention a few.   

Mullineux & Leeu Wine Farm 

Award winning and globally recognized winemaker, Andrea Mullineux, started making creative, hand crafted wines from the lesser known Swartland region very soon after her arrival to South Africa (she is of Californian descent). Using fruit from vines of at least thirst years of age and older buried in decomposed granite, schist and shale soils and dry farmed (unirrigated), Mullineaux managed to encapsulate the unique terroir of the Swartland region through the wine she produces with fastidious care and lazer like focus on quality. 

The Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines range includes, the Mullineux, Single Terroir and Kloof Street Range. Truly encapsulating South Africa’s unique wine culture, Mullineux aims to only bottle wines that represent the Swartland to the fullest. Currently on offer at Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines are the Syrah, Chenin Blanc, Grenache Blanc, Clairette and Viognier.

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Reyneke Wine Farm

Reyneke Wine Farm in Stellenbosch is known for organic and biodynamic wines. The rustic winery focuses on growing vineyards and producing wine as naturally as possible. This means minimal intervention in the winemaking process and most of the hard work happening in the vineyards. This in turn allows the true terroir characteristics of the Stellenbosch region to be expressed through the wines. 

Winemaker, philosopher and surfer, Johan Reyneke is intent on maintaining the natural state of the farm when it was established back in 1863, before any chemicals, pesticides or insecticides were used to destroy the pests in the vineyard . He relies on ducks to clear the vineyards of bugs and pests and fermented cow manure to reinvigorate the soil. This sustainable and organic approach includes spiritual or cosmic element introduced by the philosopher, Rudolph Steiner, and ensures that all aspects of the natural environment on the farm become symbiotic and supportive of one another. 

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Delaire Graff

Situated in the heart of the Stellenbosch winelands, Delaire Graff Estate is home not only to magnificent wines but also to some of the world's finest jewels. South Africa’s history is deeply rooted in the discovery of diamonds and the winery’s proprietor, Laurence Graff, has kept this concept alive. Nicknamed the “King of Diamonds,” he has created a glamorous experience at the estate where you can sip on wine, peruse the enormous diamonds and admire the extensive collection of fine art before you dine at either of the two exceptional, world class restaurants on the estate. 

The views from the estate and unrivaled in the region and add to the grandeur and opulence of this magnificent property. Truly and jewel in the crown of the Western Cape Winelands.

Image via Cape Grace

Villiera Wine Farm

Villiera in Stellenbosch offers much entertainment to its guests: from wine tasting in the tasting room to Methode Cap Classique and nougat pairings, the estate is also home to an extensive animal sanctuary. With over 200 hectares of land dedicated to wildlife, you can experience a two hour game drive and see a vast array of bird-life, springbok, kudu, giraffe, bontebok, eland and gemsbok to name just a few. The sanctuary is also home to a large amount of indigenous trees and since May 2015 over 100,000 trees have been planted. 

The estate is the first carbon neutral wine estate in the country and boasts several community development and sustainability oriented projects. Their reputation in the industry as producers of excellent sparkling and world class wines is well documented and a true reflection of their positive intention to maintain the highest of standards when it comes to quality.

Wine Terminology To Help You Navigate The Winelands:

To get the most out of your time navigating the winelands, we’ve put together a list of the most common terminology that you might be exposed to.

Wooded 

This term simply means that the wine has been aged in oak barrels. Most Americans use the term “oaked.”

Old Vine 

A description that is placed on wine labels to indicate the product of grape vines that are older and when harvested with care, can assist in a better wine being produced.

MCC 

This stands for Methode Cap Classique, which is the South African term for sparkling wine that has been made in a Méthode Champenoise style

Brut 

This is a French term used to describe the driest champagnes.

The first fill 

When the barrel is filled for the first time. At this stage the barrel absorbs about 50% of the flavor and tannin in the barrel.

The second fill 

This is when the barrel is filled for the second time.

Neutral Oak 

Once wine has gone through three vintages, the wine has extracted most of the oak’s flavor.

Pinotage 

This indicates a variety of red wine grapes by mixing the Pinot Noir blend with a variety of other blends.

Steen 

This refers to a variety of white grapes which are grown in South Africa. It’s a blend used for semi-sweet white wines.

Cinsaut 

Denotes a red wine grape which is grown in Southern France and used in dry rosés. It is also known as Hermitage.

Pomace 

This is the mass of skins, pits and stems left over once the fermentation process has finished.

With this terminology at your disposal, and the information you’ve learned above, you are set to enjoy six of the best wineries Cape Town has to offer. Look forward to exploring and learning new things at these world-class wine farms, and to making memories that’ll last a lifetime.

Explore Sideways is the leader in immersive food, wine, culture and adventure tours. Get off the beaten track with unique, handcrafted experiences in Cape Town and surrounds allowing you insider access, exclusive activities, personalized curation and a private, specialist guide.

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