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Row upon row of ripe vines ascend the lowlands of South Africa's wine region...
The Winelands just outside Capetown
After less than an hours’ drive out of Cape Town you will find yourself winding your way through the mountain valleys of one of the most famous wine growing regions of the World – the Cape Winelands. The Winelands includes the well known locations of Stellenbosch, Paarl, Wellington and Franschhoek.
Paarl, situated just 56 km outside Cape Town, has a very attractive historical charm and a warm feel of culture. The wine and fruit farms of the region show off the town’s architectural heritage and the breathtaking scenery surrounding them provides many excellent cycling and nature trails. One of the major focal points in the town is Paarl Mountain which is one of the largest solid granite rocks in the world.
Franschhoek is equally stunning in scenery yet it is also well known for its world class restaurants, top lodges and hotels with a breathtaking backdrop of mountains and the warmth of hospitality. The town has some very select shops to browse and spend time in and there are some fabulous galleries and antique stores.
Stellenbosch is the oldest town in South Africa after Cape Town and it is without doubt one of the most scenic and well preserved towns in southern Africa. Stellenbosch is ideally located in a magnificent mountain valley and is a great destination from which to explore the Winelands and the attractions that the area has to offer.
The majority of South Africa’s vineyards are found in the Western Cape fairly near the coast. The weather in this region is similar to a Mediterranean climate which is excellent for growing vines and rainfall can measure up to 40 inches a year.
The Cape’s winelands sprawl from South Africa’s coast to the plains of the Little Karoo where grapes are also grown in the riverine valleys. There are well over one hundred wineries and over one thousand producers of vineyards in the Cape, which are divided and classified into four main regions: The Breede River Valley, The Little Karoo, Coastal and Olifants River.
Ever since the first settlers arrived from Europe, South Africa has cultivated grapes with increasing success. In 1688 French Huguenots fleeing from religious persecution settled in the cape region and brought with them an in- depth knowledge of viniculture. Together with the effort of the Dutch farmers the region has never looked back. South Africa's wine country has many fine wine estates which offer wine tasting and cellar tours as well as gracious farm accommodation and exquisite restaurants.
When considering South Africa we would usually suggest that you spend your first couple of nights in either a superb hotel on the waterfront in Cape Town such as the Cape Grace or Victoria & Alfred or a boutique hotel in a quiet area of the town. After enjoying the restaurants and attractions of Cape Town you can simply embark on an hour or so leisurely paced drive into the Cape Winelands towns of Franschhoek, Paarl and Stellenbosch which guarantee a few days of culinary splendour and a wine connoisseur’s paradise. The landscapes of these wine regions are simply stunning and the locals supporting this viniculture epicentre warm hearted and friendly. The Winelands exude relaxation and a general tranquility of life that will rejuvenate your soul.
With the Cape Dutch style farmhouses and wine estates punctuating the green endless fields of vine the air is crisp and refreshing. In addition to cellar tours and wine tasting followed by fantastic world class cuisine the Winelands also lends itself to fantastic out door activities such as gentle walks, horseriding and mountain biking to absorb this wonderful landscape.