How to Weekend in Cape Town’s Wine Country

Farm-to-fork meals, spa treatments, vineyard hikes, and more—this is how you do a proper weekend in South Africa’s wine country.

How to Weekend in Cape Town’s Wine Country

Photo courtesy of DOOK/Babylonstoren

To get the full measure of Cape Town’s mountain-ringed winelands, give yourself at least two days. Private, all-day tours—worth it if you are doing tastings at each vineyard—are available through Way 2 Go, but renting a car gives you the luxury to meander as you please. And the three-town triangle of Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, and Paarl is full of pleasures.

Babylonstoren in Paarl remains the most immersive wine farm in the region. Spend an afternoon napping in your whitewashed Cape Dutch cottage, grazing through the edible garden, tasting wines in the glass-and-steel tasting room, or figuring out how many jars of melon preserve from the rustic farm shop will fit in your suitcase. The hotel’s vegetable-forward restaurant, Babel, is a stunner, but for an unrivaled farm-to-fork meal, The Table at De Meye wine farm is the reservation to make. Family-style dishes (think slow-roasted lamb, beetroot tarte tatin) are prepared by chef Jessica Shepherd using produce from the veggie garden, then served at wooden tables beneath a canopy of trees. On day two, start early to try wines at a cluster of Stellenbosch wineries with incomparable views and wines to match:

On day two, start early to try wines at a cluster of Stellenbosch wineries with incomparable views and wines to match: Hidden Valley Wines and Delaire Graff Estate. Massage therapists at the nearby Lanzerac Spa (also on a wine estate) are ready to whisk away any tension using oils made from local grapes. In the afternoon, head toward Franschhoek for a cold brew from Terbodore Coffee Roasters followed by a hike on La Motte farm, through vineyards and past brilliant panoramas of the Franschhoek valley. If you can swing an extra night, book a cottage or suite at the Akademie Street Boutique Hotel, a refurbished house with 19th century–era antiques and a prime view of the Frankschhoek Mountains.

The Next Great Wine Region

After a tour of the classic Franschhoek and Stellenbosch winelands, drive an hour north to visit Swartland, a low-key region that’s producing some of the country’s most impressive natural wines. (But book before you go—most wineries host by appointment only.) Here are four bottles to uncork.

Old Vines White

Mullineux & Leeu Family Wines

Winemaker Andrea Mullineux’s signature wine is made from old-vine chenin blanc grapes, then aged for 11 months in French oak barrels. In your glass, it’s fresh and rich with hints of pear and almond.

A.A. Badenhorst Red Blend

A.A. Badenhorst Wines

This red blend—a mix of shiraz, mourvèdre, grenache, and cinsault—balances tannins with notes of blackberries and licorice. Winemaker Adi Badenhorst is as well known for his effervescent personality as he is for his outstanding wine.

El Bandito Skin


Established by a young husband-and-wife team in 2013, Testalonga produces 12 impressive wines, including El Bandito Skin, a gentle, slightly cloudy chenin blanc made without filtering or adding sulfites.


Sadie Family Wines

Eben Sadie is one of the country’s most compelling and influential winemakers. His Columella, a rich, full-bodied blend of syrah and mourvèdre blend, is one of the main reasons the Swartland region has gained so much attention.

After working for years at the best wineries in Europe, Eben Sadie returned to his South Africa to found his own winery—and became one of the country’s most influential winemakers. Sadie Family Wines is located north of Cape Town in the Swartland.

>>Next: Meet South Africa’s First Black Female Winemaker

Mary Holland is South African writer based in New York. She has written for WSJ Magazine, the Financial Times, HTSI, GQ, Condé Nast Traveler, and W Magazine. She is the New York correspondent for Monocle Magazine.
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