Located at the heart of South Africa’s Cape Winelands, the university town of Stellenbosch provides a picturesque base for exploring some of the country’s best vineyards. From small-production boutique wineries to some of the grandest and most successful estates in the southern hemisphere, these vineyards are sustained by the region’s well-drained, mountainous terrain and balmy Mediterranean climate. Some focus exclusively on wine-making while others have expanded to offer luxury dining and accommodation as well. Discover our pick of the best Stellenbosch vineyards to visit on your next trip to the Western Cape.
Waterford Wine Estate
Located a 20-minute drive south of Stellenbosch in beautiful Blaauwklippen Valley, Waterford Wine Estate sits on 120 hectares of land framed by the Hottentots-Holland mountain range. At the Mediterranean-style villa, a range of tasting experiences await. The estate is most famous for its Wine & Chocolate Experience which pairs handcrafted chocolates with its Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Natural Sweet wines. It’s also well worth paying extra to taste flagship wine The Jem, a master blend of different red varietals. Other unique experiences include the three-hour Wine Drive Safari and the Porcupine Trail Walk, both of which allow you to taste wines in the breathtaking setting of their vineyard of origin. This estate does not have its own restaurant.
Kleine Zalze Wine Estate
Also to the south of Stellenbosch lies Kleine Zalze Wine Estate. Set against a magnificent mountain backdrop, this estate takes a more multi-faceted approach to viticulture. As well as producing award-winning wines, the property includes critically acclaimed Terroir Restaurant and De Zalze Lodge, a beautiful Cape Dutch-style country house offering rooms for an overnight stay. The lodge is adjacent to the first fairway of the estate’s 18-hole Kleine Zalze Golf Course. Of course, the wines are still the primary attraction and you can sample them at informal tasting sessions beneath ancient oaks at the Kleine Zalze Cellardoor. The flagship KZ Family Reserve range (a Sauvignon Blanc, a Chenin Blanc and a Shiraz) is a particular highlight.
Tokara Wine Estate
Tokara Wine Estate is a collection of immaculate vineyards and olive groves nestled on the southern slopes of Simonsberg Mountain. The industrial-style estate doubles as a showcase for an impressive collection of sculpture and artworks, including Marco Cianfanelli’s astonishing installation, "The Mind’s Vine." Tokara focuses on Cabernet Sauvignons and Sauvignon Blancs across three ranges, of which the most exclusive is the flagship Directors Reserve range. Try them in the estate tasting room or at TOKARA Restaurant. At the latter, incredible views of the vineyards, Stellenbosch town and distant False Bay are complemented by contemporary cuisine from acclaimed chef Richard Carstens. At TOKARA Delicatessen you’ll find a family-friendly restaurant and a gourmet food shop specializing in olive oil products.
Spier Wine Farm
Take the R310 out of Stellenbosch in the opposite direction to discover Spier Wine Farm, one of the oldest vineyards in South Africa with Cape Dutch architecture that dates back to 1692. Spier specializes in organic, Fair Trade-accredited wines. Opt for a Winemaker Selection tasting to try the estate's two premium wine ranges while the kids are kept occupied by a Children’s Grape Juice Tasting. There are several dining venues on the property including Eight Restaurant, whose menu showcases ingredients grown on its organic farm. At Spier Farm Kitchen, you can put together your own picnic to enjoy by the scenic dam. The estate also boasts a hotel, conference facilities and one of the country’s largest collections of contemporary art.
Marianne Wine Estate
Marianne Wine Estate is a boutique winery located north of Stellenbosch in the Simonsberg foothills. Spanning 32 hectares, the estate is owned by a Frenchman with three chateaux in the Bordeaux area. It adopts the classic French style of winemaking, using manual harvesting and an extended ageing process in French oak and acacia barrels. You can sample the results at unique tastings such as the Wine & Biltong Pairing or the Madiba’s Tasting. The latter includes four vintages of the estate’s flagship Floreal wine, the first of which was served at Buckingham Palace to celebrate Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday. Cellar and vineyard tours can also be arranged while Floreal Brasserie serves modern European cuisine. There are four accommodation options to choose from.
Peter Falke Wines
A 15-minute drive south of Stellenbosch takes you to Peter Falke Wines, another boutique estate located on the slopes of the Helderberg mountains. This farm is particularly picturesque, with manicured vineyards flanked by fields of roses and wild lavender. Its 18th-century Cape Dutch buildings are juxtaposed with chic contemporary interiors. Formal tastings are offered from Tuesday to Sunday in the tasting room, where you can order cheese platters, salads and sundowners. For the best views, head outside into the al fresco lounge area. There’s also a lawn with informal bean bag seating where you can enjoy wines by the glass, carafe or bottle. Peter Falke produces two wine ranges — the relaxed PF range and the Signature range for connoisseurs.
House of J.C. Le Roux
As the first dedicated sparkling wine cellar in South Africa, the House of J.C. Le Roux is the obvious choice for bubbly fans. Situated northwest of Stellenbosch on a farm established in 1704, the estate’s light-filled tasting room offers a range of fun experiences. Opt for the Olive Pairing or Nougat Experience, or sample four Méthode Cap Classique wines including the J.C. Le Roux flagship. Upon request guests can even enjoy a ceremonial sabrage demonstration. Head to the Mixology Bar to discover how to make the best sparkling wine cocktails or to sample alcoholic popsicles and granitas. The estate is also home to Le Venue restaurant, known for its spectacular mountain views and seasonal breakfast and lunch menus.
Uva Mira Mountain Vineyards
Situated a half-hour drive to the south, Uva Mira takes a little longer to get to than the other estates on this list. However, its unique high-altitude vineyards are well worth a visit. At up to 2,000 feet (620 meters) above sea level they provide the ideal terroir for six different wine varietals. The estate has won plenty of awards, especially for its single-vineyard Chardonnay. Its elevated position also makes for some very special views. From the Swiss chalet-style tasting room, you can admire False Bay, Table Bay and Table Mountain spread out in an iconic panorama. Opt for a selection of three or five wines and consider booking artisanal cheese and meat platters in advance.
Delaire Graff Estate
For a truly luxurious wine tasting experience, head to Delaire Graff Estate at the top of Helshoogte Pass. Traditional Cape Dutch buildings house rare African artifacts and original artworks from the private collection of English jeweler and billionaire, Laurence Graff. Outside, mesmerizing views of Stellenbosch Valley await. The winery produces world-class white, red, rosé and Brut wines which can be tasted in the glass-walled, teak-floored Wine Lounge or in one of the property’s gourmet restaurants. The Delaire Graff Restaurant highlights the area’s best seasonal ingredients while Indochine is renowned for its pan-Asian fine dining. If you feel like extending your visit, the estate also offers 10 opulent lodges, all with their own private terrace and plunge pool.
Warwick Wine Estate
Head north of Stellenbosch on the R44 to reach Warwick Wine Estate, an 18th-century farm that was expanded in 2017 to include 700 hectares of prime Simonsberg terroir. You can sign up for formal wine tastings or arrange cellar tours by appointment; while the Big 5 Vineyard Safari takes you on a Land Rover adventure through the vineyards, comparing the Big Five animals to the Big Five grape varieties. The highlight of a visit to Warwick is the estate’s gourmet picnics which include delicacies such as home-smoked Norwegian salmon, biltong paté and homemade bread. Vegan, vegetarian and children’s versions of the picnics are also available. Choose from several magical picnic venues including the rolling estate lawns and the shaded Forest Courtyard.