Sunday 03 March 2024

Grape Expectations: Exploring South Africa’s Wine Regions

The Cape Winelands region of South Africa is one of the highlights of the area. Celebrating its 350th year of winemaking in 2009, South Africa now boasts a stunning range of wines that even outsells French wines in the UK.

Grape Expectations: Exploring South Africa’s Wine Regions

The Winelands aren’t just home to a variety of wine estates, though, as it’s also famous for its beautiful scenery, fine gastronomic experiences, and charming architecture.

And the best bit? The beginning of these wonderful vineyards is just half an hour’s drive from Cape Town. That’s why many choose to mix a city break in Cape Town, staying at Marriott Protea Hotels, for example, with some indulgent vineyard visits.

So, if you’re planning on visiting South Africa soon, here are some of the must-see wine regions in the area:


Towering mountains surround three sides of Franschhoek, which is why you’d be forgiven for thinking you were in the Scottish Highlands. The area was established by Huguenot refugees, with the term Franschhoek actually translating as “French corner.” The refugees first arrived here in the 17th century as they were being persecuted in France.

Hailed as one of the prettiest towns in the area, Franschhoek is a compact location with the majority of restaurants, shops, and the Huguenot Memorial within several minutes of the center of the town. The French influence this area has seen means you’ll find some of the country’s best vineyards here.


Nestled in a valley between theatrical mountains, Paarl has a unique place in the history of South Africa. Why? Because it’s the Afrikaans language spiritual home. One of the summits above the area is home to a monument of the language, and it’s well worth a visit because from there you get unprecedented views of Table Mountain, overlooking the Winelands.

At the heart of the town, you’ll find a historic center which contains quaint buildings and residential streets that quickly become roads winding their way through the vineyards up into the mountains.


Situated in the heart of the Winelands, Stellenbosch is South Africa’s oldest European settlement (after Cape Town). However, there’s nothing “old” about this location as it’s full of vitality thanks to the large student population who attend the nearby university.

Many of the avenues in this locale are lined with oak trees that are 300 years’ old, sheltering stately homes and historic mansions. You’ll also find plenty of pretty streets that are bustling with restaurants and cafes, all of which are easy to explore on foot.

Although all of these vineyards are open all year round, you may want to avoid the wintery showers that are often present from June to August. Peak season for the area tends to run from October to February where you’ll get to enjoy the glorious weather as you taste the region’s wines.

Not only will these wonderful regions keep you suitably indulged with beautiful scenery, fabulous wine, and great food, but you’ll also discover plenty of monuments, local sights, and activities along the way, too.