Cape Winelands

An area of exquisite beauty with verdant green vineyards, oak avenues leading to elegant Cape Dutch wine estates and the charming towns.

Overview

An area of exquisite beauty with verdant green vineyards, oak avenues leading to elegant Cape Dutch wine estates and the charming towns.

The Cape Winelands is an area of exquisite beauty only 45 minutes from Cape Town. It contains some of the most charming towns and villages in South Africa: Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Tulbagh. Here rocky mountains overlook green vineyards and oak avenues lead to elegant Cape Dutch wine estates.

Indeed the main pleasure of the Cape Winelands is the enjoyment of the good life. Appreciating the wine and the Cape Dutch architecture, and enjoying lazy meals in their excellent restaurants. Browsing in shops and art galleries or taking scenic drives or walks in the mountains. This corner of South Africa is not somewhere to be hurried. You can visit the Winelands for the day from Cape Town but those in the know set aside at least two or three nights in order to savour the area.

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Milandi Joubert

Africa Travel Specialist
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Features

Why you may love it

  • Explore the oak-lined streets of Stellenbosch. This bustling university town offers a stunning mountain backdrop, interesting boutiques and white gabled Cape Dutch homesteads. All blending in tranquil harmony. Visit the Settler Museum, the Rupert Museum and enjoy a brandy tasting at Van Ryn’s distillery.
  • Soak up the rural charm of the Huguenot settlement of Franschhoek, the foodie capital of South Africa. Enjoy its excellent restaurants, galleries, boutiques and the Franschhoek Motor Museum.
  • Enjoy wine-tasting at some of the many wine estates, perhaps taking a Cellar tour as well. The Franschhoek Wine Tram makes for a novel form of transport for visiting the wine estates.
  • Relax over a delicious lunch and then meander through the gardens of Babylonstoren, reminiscent of Villandry in France.
  • Watch champagne bottles opened by sword at Haute Cabriere Wine Estate.
  • Check out active options such as mountain biking, hiking and horse trails through the vineyards of the Cape Winelands.
  • Experience world-class golf at Erinvale, De Zalze, Pearl Valley amongst others.

Explore the Cape Winelands map

When to visit Cape Winelands

November to March

Summer

The Winelands has a similar climate to Cape Town - dry Mediterranean climate – but being more inland, it tends to be hotter. So for sun-seekers aiming to escape the northern hemisphere winter, this is the perfect time to visit. This is the time of the main grape harvest so the vineyards look lush and green. But naturally you are unlikely to encounter the wine-maker on a cellar tour.
AVG RAINFALL 24 mm
MAX TEMP 29 ℃ / 84 ℉
MIN TEMP 15 ℃ / 59 ℉

April to mid-May

Autumn

I like this time of year in the Winelands. Though it is cooler, it’s a great time to be active as the sun is not so scorching. Plus there are fewer visitors so it’s easier to book one of the popular restaurants and the vineyards have their autumn colours.
AVG RAINFALL 93 mm
MAX TEMP 22 ℃ / 72 ℉
MIN TEMP 10 ℃ / 50 ℉

Mid-May to August

Winter

This is our “winter” and yes it does feel wintery with the bare winter vines. But this is a gentle winter. You may have rain, but it only rains for 2-3 days every 10 days on average, so you may have no rain during your stay. Winelands hotels offer great winter rates from May onwards, so you’ll find your money goes a little further.
AVG RAINFALL 119 mm
MAX TEMP 18 ℃ / 64 ℉
MIN TEMP 7 ℃ / 45 ℉

September to mid-November

Spring

The spring is another of our favourite times to visit, unless you are seeking heat in a big way! It starts in September when it can be variable so bring a range of clothing. Or there could be late-season passing showers. By October onwards its getting much warmer and this is when Winelands gardens are at their best with beautiful displays of roses and indigenous fynbos.
AVG RAINFALL 59 mm
MAX TEMP 24 ℃ / 75 ℉
MIN TEMP 11 ℃ / 52 ℉

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Kate’s review of La Residence in Franschhoek

Yes, of course - as I knew it would be – La Residence in the Cape Winelands is in a class of its own. The place is absolutely stunning even on a cold wettish, winter’s day – so I can just imagine how lovely it is in summer. The Singita Grumeti of the Cape Winelands…

Yes it’s not cheap but then true luxury rarely is. Sometimes clients ask me whether a place is worth it? I always find that a difficult question to answer because each person is unique in terms of what they value and what gives them pleasure. What I would say is – if you are in the market for staying somewhere like La Residence, you certainly won’t be disappointed.

Liz Biden, the owner, is a marvel at interior design. I had worried that it would all be just too much! And it almost is… but it isn’t and that of course shows her skill. As you walk in, you come into a glorious and vast double storey room with dining on the one side and sitting areas on the other side. It’s impressive with magnificent flower arrangements and log fires burning. It’s palatial but also surprisingly comfortable and not gauche or intimidating.

As befits such a place, the service was impeccable. Friendly and genuine giving you a confidence that no request would be too much trouble. This is just what tour operators want to see. (We don’t want stuffy supercilious people looking askance at our clients because they come to breakfast in moccasins.)

I loved all the rooms at La Residence. I particularly liked the Tibetian Suite, room 11, room 9, room 6, room 4. However they are all gorgeous. I would recommend the slightly more expensive superior rooms as the difference is hardly anything and it gives you some of the most interestingly styled rooms in South Africa.

I also went to see The Villas at La Residence, only a few minutes from the hotel. The idea with the villas is that families with children can get the same La Residence experience. There are five villas varying from studios to three bedrooms and you can take them on a BB basis or on a fully inclusive basis.

The décor -  though very much the same style as the main house - is slightly more practical eg. fewer objet d’art! But the same amazing sense of style, colour, furnishings etc. Some have their own swimming pools. Though I can see that these would be wonderful for a single family or a multi-generational family party, I think I had a preference for the original residence.

Cedarberg : Kate Bergh

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Did you know
  • TourismHost to about 15 wine routes and 2 brandy routes
  • HistoryFirst wine was bottled in 1659

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