Are you looking for a place with a friendly and easy going vibe where you can travel back in time walking on the streets imagining the early life on the Cape?
Enjoying some delicious sosaties, the traditional South African meat-based food, with a rich, dark-berry, full-bodied red from a nearby winery?
Being in awe in the evening watching a breathtaking sunset over the picturesque plains of the Devon valley from a three-century-old wine farm that is your home for the next 3 days?
Feeling deeply relaxed and excited by the fantastic adventures that await you and that you know will make your stay here unforgettable?
Welcome to Stellenbosch!
This is in South Africa that you will find the most astoundingly beautiful and fascinating vineyards on earth.
Stellenbosch winelands- Photo by Deon Maritz from Flickr
A short presentation of South Africa as a wine country
This country is often labelled as a new world wine country, but in truth, this region is not that young.
It started when the Dutch came to South Africa in the 1650s and established a supply station in what is now Cap town to replenish on their long journey along the spice route to India and the east. Soon after, a call for wine was added to that list of supplies, encouraging them to plant vineyards. The first harvest happened in 1659 from muscadel a white flavorful grape and the wine was used as a cure for scurvy and other sailors’ diseases.
Napoleon’s favourite wine, the “vin de Constance”
In 1685, Simon Von der Stel founded the famous Constantia Estate and started producing the excellent dessert wine that became widely exported and known in Europe as the « Vin de Constance » during the next two centuries. Napoleon was very found of it and it was known as one of the greatest wine on earth for many years.
Over the next two centuries, the wine industry didn’t change much, producing for the most part low-quality white wines and brandies.
The end of the Apartheid in 1994 marked a big turning point in the industry with the birth of a new generation of dynamic, inspired and curious wine producers focused on crafting fine wines.
At that time, 80 per cent of the wine produced in the country was made from white grapes, twenty years later this percentage had dropped to 56 per cent.
Today’s South Africa wines
Today South Africa is famous for its Chenin blanc called for many years steen capable of great concentration and elegance, especially from old bush vines that you will find only there. Clean, refreshing, dry, medium-dry or sweet, usually fermented and aged in barrel as the Chenin found in the Loire Valley France.
In terms of red wines, the most important ones are made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Pinotage. Pinotage is known as the flagship grape of South Africa wines but don’t be mistaken here, it is not the most planted grape here. It was created by Abraham Perold in 1925 during its research at Stellenbosch University. This is a crossing of Pinot noir and Cinsault.
Stellenbosch is one of the oldest vineyards of South Africa
South Africa wine map Creative commons
Stellenbosch is part of what is called Western cap, the main wine region with over 90 per cent of the wine made in the country. This place is unique for growing wine due to its location between two mighty oceans: the Atlantic and Indian oceans. This is the oldest and most developed wine region with over 200 wine estates established, a centre of wine tourism and home to a wine university.
The best vineyards are located in what is called the golden triangle where diversity of soil types and a perfect growing climate. with cooling ocean breezes are found, allowing the vine to grow slowly. This area stretches from the foothills of the Helderberg to the edge of the Stellenbosch mountains. You will find wonderful Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah there. The cooler sites produce premium Sauvignon blanc and Chardonnay as well.
Some great ideas to take along with you during your stay here.
Delight in exploring the lovely town of Stellenbosch
Picture by Steven Morrow from Commons Wikimedia
The town is a very pleasant place to visit. Being a university town sets the vibe with over 30,000 students out on the street enjoying a drink at night. It is packed with bars, restaurants, boutique hotels and art galleries.
This was the second city founded in South Africa and over the years became known as the city of oaks due to the large number of oak trees that were planted by its founder Simon Van Der Stel. Van der Stel was the last commander and first governor of the Cape Colony and gave is the name to the town of Stellenbosch.
Add some magic flavours to your stay by staying at Delair Graff Estate.
View from the Estate
If you’re looking for a spectacular spot overlooking majestic views of the Banhoek Valley, you will love staying at Delair Graff Estate.
Located at only 8-minutes drive from the town of Stellenbosch, this estate offers four separate luxury lodges, varying in size and splendour, a private terrace, a fireplace, a small kitchen and a private pool with vineyards and mountains views that will give you all the tranquility and intimacy that you need to make your stay there unforgettable.
The estate is also an attraction for fine-dining in the Winelands, being home to two restaurants: Indochine, an Asian-inspired restaurant crafting theatrical dishes to enhances your senses and Delaire Graff restaurant featuring classic bistro favourites with a South African twist. All dished made with fresh produce from the estate’s own garden.
Waterkloof a biodynamic winery that won’t let you indifferent
Waterkloof Wine Estate
Located at only 20-minutes drive from the town of Stellenbosch, this state of the art winery will leave you in awe. Waterkloof was founded by a passionate English importer that believes wholeheartedly in biodynamic farming and minimal intervention winemaking to make full of vitality wines with a sense of origin. The first wine was released in 2005 and the restaurant with spectacular views will delight your senses.
Getting to and around Stellenbosch
The easiest way to get there is by car whether your own or Uber. I would recommend you to have your own car as it will make it so much easier for you to get around. It will take you about 45 minutes to 1-hour to get there from Cape town or the airport. The town is safe, walking is the best way to explore it.