Why You Should Know About South Africa's Western Cape Winelands
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
When you think about where some of the world’s tastiest wine is produced, Africa may not be the first place that pops into your head. Think again. The celebrated (and sometimes underrated) Cape Winelands is situated on the southwest tip of Africa in the Western Cape Province. The coastal district is renowned for its full-bodied, Southern France-inspired red wine and its sweet and light sauvignon blanc selections. As the largest wine producing region, South Africa produces a whopping 1 billion liters of wine a year. Cape Winelands is a much-loved destination for wine aficionados and those who simply appreciate the fruits of the majestic African uplands. Travelers can expect bountiful winery and vineyard choices in the Western Cape’s six wine regions, each of which offers its own distinct wine routes.
ShutterstockStellenbosch | Situated approximately 30 miles east of Cape Town is Stellenbosch. Rows of healthy oak trees standing along many of the city streets create a quaint and welcoming atmosphere and have earned this Eerste River town the nickname, “City of Oaks.”
Beyond the tree-lined city roads on the Stellenbosch wine route are more than 200 wine and grape producers. The route meanders near the foot of the Cape Fold Mountain range and is considered the oldest in the country, producing some of the region’s most well-known wines. Meerlust – a respected Stellenbosch winery dating back to the 1750s – offers its renowned Bordeaux-style Rubicon blend.
ShutterstockPaarl | Like Stellenbosch, Paarl is one of the oldest European settlements in South Africa. While some may know this as the Western Cape town where South African Nobel Peace Prize recipient Nelson Mandela was imprisoned, much of Paarl’s popularity comes from its gorgeous and fertile grape-growing terrain.
Below Paarl Rock (Pearl Mountain) sits this thriving Cape Winelands city, peppered with 17th-19th Century Cape Dutch homes along the famous Paarl wine route. The historical path winds its way through the South African countryside where both local producers and international wine companies draw from the land to create the area’s famed sweet and sultry cabernet sauvignon, as well as other varietals. You can sample the popular blend at Nederburg Estate.
ShutterstockConstantia | Just west of the Constantia Valley is Cape Town’s oldest suburb. Constantia’s sleepy foothills location sets the tranquil ambiance of the region, making it easy for travelers to fall in love with the centuries-old Cape Winelands city.
It has long been known for its Vin de Constance (Constantia) sweet dessert wine. Although one of Jane Austen’s characters in “Sense & Sensibility” drank Constantia for “its healing powers on a disappointed heart," that won’t be the reason you’ll want to sip on it. Try the delicious wine at the late 1600s Cape Dutch-style manor and winery, Groot Constantia. It is part of the Constantia wine route, where rows of twisted vines stretch out below the mountains and grow the same grapes once enjoyed by Napoleon Bonaparte and other 18th Century royalty.
If you are interested in wine from other parts of the world, read about Portugal’s Douro Valley.