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Row and rows of neatly spaced vines line the valleys of South Africa's wine region...
The lush Winelands of South Africa
The Cape Winelands are situated east of Cape Town in an area of beautiful natural landscapes, high mountains and lush sweeping valleys. As the Winelands enjoys a relatively close proximity to the city - at little more than an hours' drive - visitors can also just visit and enjoy the region for the day. However, to do this area any justice it is far better to hire a car for a few days, or incorporate into a journey along the Garden Route, so that you can explore and enjoy at your leisure.
The prolific vineyards have made the area known as one of the finest regions in the world for wine, producing some of the best wines enjoyed on every Continent. There are four main areas - The Little Karoo, Breede River Valley, Coastal and Olifants River - totalling more than one hundred wineries with over a thousand wine producers.
The first settlers from Europe were already cultivating grapes before the arrival of the French Huguenots around 1688. However, it was in collaboration with their wine growing knowledge and expertise that created the industry that is thriving today. The many excellent wine estates offer cellar tours and of course wine tasting as well as superb accommodation in stylish hotels and exquisite restaurants that, naturally, boast an exceptional wine list!
Most of South Africa's vineyards are found in the Western Cape fairly near the coast which enjoys a climate similar to that of the Mediterranean with rainfall of up to 40 inches a year which is perfect for growing vines.
When planning a holiday in this part of South Africa we would suggest that on arrival in Cape Town you spend a couple of nights acclimatising and relaxing from your international flight at one of the excellent hotels situated on the vibrant waterfront such as the Cape Grace or the Victoria & Alfred or alternatively in one of the smaller more intimate boutique hotels in one of the more quieter areas of the city.
By self drive or private transfer you can then head out to the lush countryside to visit the little towns of the Cape Winelands - Stellenbosch, Paarl, Wellington and Franschhoek being the most well known. Here you will enjoy warm hospitality, exceptional cuisine and the fruits of some of the best vineyards in the World.
Paarl the closest to Cape Town has flourishing wine and fruit farms together with breathtaking scenery that is ideal for exploring by bike, on foot or even horse back as well as Paarl Mountain, one of the largest solid granite rocks in the world.
The quaint village of Franschhoek and Stellenbosch, the oldest town in South Africa after Cape Town, nestle in lush green valleys surrounded by vine clad slopes. Both locations have splendid vineyards and scenery with a well deserved reputation for excellent accommodation and world class restaurants. These picturesque towns are an ideal base from which to leisurely explore the Cape Winelands area.
With the Cape Dutch style farmhouses, many originally constructed in the 17th century and lovingly restored and wine estates with endless lush green landscapes of richly ripening vines the Cape Winelands is a place of gentle and relaxed exploration.