The Cape is world-renowned for its wines and wine culture, but there’s more to wine production and tasting than meets the eye. An innovative wine tourism industry has set the bar to international standards, and there are some experiences and attractions not to be missed this winter, says Avukile Mabombo, Group Marketing Manager, Protea Hotels by Marriott and African Pride Hotels, who is encouraging visitors and locals to “wander more”:
Wine is a living, breathing advertisement for the country. After all, you open the bottle and inhale the mysterious fragrance of a place you may never have seen, and for wine enthusiasts that’s the impetus to book a trip to find out why a deep red is loaded with berry scents, while a playful white might have the twin scents of melon and pear.
With the city having been named “Best city in the world for restaurants and bars” in the Telegraph Readers’ Poll, it’s clear that we’re ideally placed to shape our visitors’ experiences with two of the most important travelling senses, taste and smell.
The taste of time
The oldest vine in the city is situated in the heart of the CBD at the Heritage Hotel in Heritage Square. It was planted in 1771 and is still capable of producing small, but exclusive, amounts of wine. It was recently harvested by Signal Hill vineyard and is said to provide around 20 litres of wine. Signal Hill is known as the only urban winery in South Africa, sourcing and producing wines just a few hundred metres from where they were first grown in the country.
The Constantia and Steenberg Route
The Constantia-Steenberg Wine Route is tucked tastefully between the world-renowned homes of the suburbs and the gentle lower slopes of the Table Mountain Range. Here, the oldest continuously-operated wine farm in South Africa has its home: Groot Constantia offers a sense of nobility when visiting, as it should – having royalty as fans of its produce. Napoleon himself enjoyed the famed Grand Constance wine. The Estate has a large preserved building as a museum that houses artifacts and treasures of a bygone era. Wine and chocolate pairings are offered there, along with cellar tours, but it’s also pleasant to stroll on the grounds with the baboons frolicking in the distance.
Further afield, there’s the Green Belt, a lush, verdant walking spot enjoyed by families with their dogs, horses and riders and runners. It gives the impression of being deep in the countryside, and yet it’s just a few minutes away from Constantia Village, where the local jet set do their shopping and socialising over tea and cake. It’s a popular suburb for people who enjoy an active lifestyle, from running to mountain biking.
On Sundays when the weather is pleasant, vintage and sports car fanatics will be seen cruising through the avenues, enjoying the breeze and the views. You can head down to the Cape Point Vineyards in Noordhoek for the day.
There are shuttle tours, buses and easy access to these; you don’t have to travel for hours to enjoy them, and there’s so much to see and do that it can take a surprising amount of time to explore.
Durbanville is the gateway to the rolling farmlands of the Boland, and it’s a multi-faced neighbourhood. As an IT hub, it is home to tech-savvy business people and conference centres and it’s minutes away from Tygervalley Shopping Centre and is host to many shops and restaurants of its own. One minute you can be driving through rows of neat houses with colourful gardens, the next you are looking over rolling hills with their ranks of vines, the Durbanville Rose Garden or the local golf course.
Music festivals, food fairs, markets and events entice locals to spend the day at the vineyards, with tasting the intense, fruit-driven wines being an obvious priority, but there is plenty for families to do, too. Apart from wine, there are olives, chocolate, toffee, and even Craft beer and biltong tastings to enjoy.
It is in close proximity to the airport and main routes to the beaches of Bloubergstrand and Melkbosstrand and the inner CBD of Cape Town.
The distant towns of Somerset West and Gordon’s Bay are unusual in that they’re relatively capable of existing in isolation and yet they are officially part of Greater Cape Town.
There are more than 20 wine farms make up the Helderberg Wine Route around Somerset West, which is at the bottom of Sir Lowry’s Pass – the gateway to Cape Town, and the region is known for its red wines, Chardonnays and sparkling wines. Well-known historical farms such as Vergelegen, Morgenster, Waterkloof and Lourensford are part of this area’s charm; many of the old manor houses have been converted into picturesque guest houses and lodges. There are also regular markets, festivals and events at the wine farms along the route, with many restaurants to choose from.
The Helderberg Nature Reserve extends from the back gardens of the last houses on the town’s edge all the way up over the Helderberg Mountain that overlooks False Bay. There are multiple walking trails and a variety of picnic spots. The reserve has plenty of visitor information and is known for the resources it provides to school children for projects and themes.
Cape Town is the perfect place to enjoy a culinary experience that takes you into history and across many cultures.
Avukile Mabombo is Group Marketing Manager of Protea Hotels by Marriott.
This article was first published by Wine Industry Network on 14 May 2018