Twenty years ago, we crossed this region in short-haul, but this time visiting the best wineries in Stellenbosch was an important reason for traveling to South Africa. We stayed the first five nights of our trip in Stellenbosch. From here we visited Cape Town (read more about this in the post over here) and, of course, the Cape Winelands were explored extensively.
Stellenbosch is a cozy university town and the center of the wine region. White Cape homes, ancient trees, cozy restaurants and cafés make Stellenbosch the perfect place to store your tent for a few days.
In the past there have been three big fires, destroying large parts of the city. However, many buildings were rebuilt in the original style.
12 Best wineries in Stellenbosch
If you are in this region, a wine tasting is of course one of the top things to do in Stellenbosch. In South Africa, wine producers are not châteaux, but wine estates. At most Stellenbosch wine farms you have to make an appointment in advance. The estates where you make an appointment for a tour often do not count on the tasting. Please note that many Estates are closed on Sundays.
1. De Toren
My husband has been drinking De Toren for years, so we organized Stellenbosch Wine Tour. to his favourite wine farm. It was fantastic. We were given a tour of almost two hours. First through the Stellenbosch vineyards, afterwards they showed us the whole production process from cellar through barrel and maturation rooms. Ofcourse eventually we got to taste it.
At the Toren they use five Bordeaux grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot. These root stocks are planted on 15 different soil types to create a complex taste.
The grapes are handpicked in the first two hours of daylight. A group of ladies is sitting in front of the estate checking and selecting the best berries to produce this amazing wine.
You need to make an appointment to visit the winery. Contact details: firstname.lastname@example.org
Address: Polkadraai Road, Stellenbosch
2. Meerlust Estate
Meerlust Estate is also one of the best wineries in Stellenbosch. Established in 1756 and owned by the Myburgh family for 8 generations.
The Estate is situated 15 kilometers south of Stellenbosch and is housed in an amazing manor house. Besides the wine cellar, you can also visit the rose garden, bird sanctuary and family cemetry.
Meerlust produces 4 different red wines (Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Rubicon) and a white Chardonnay.
Meerlust is not only a Stellenbosch wine farm but also a hotel. The former slave quarters and workrooms have been renovated and are now used as hotelrooms.
Contact the tasting room manager for an appointment at email@example.com
Address: Baden Powell Drive, Stellenbosch
3. Waterford Estate
Waterford is, alltough it is rather young,one of the best wineries in Stellenbosch. It was established in 1998 by 2 passionate families that formerly worked at the famous Rust & Vrede wine estate. The Stellebosch wine farm is situated in the picturesque Blaauwklippen Valley near Stellenbosch. Even those who don't like wine (do these people exist), will love to visit Waterford Estate for the iconic fountain in the courtyard. Ofcourse you can go for a wine tasting but they offer special experiences such a Wine Drive Safari and a Porcupine Trail Walk. You can for instance enjoy an amazing lunch in the Stellenbosch Vineyards
You can make online reservations for a wine drive safari or to visit the tasting room.
Address: Blaauwklippen Road, Stellenbosch
Boschendal is an historic estate with several restaurants and a museum. This Stellenbosch wine farm produces excellent wines for almost 300 years. Besides superb white and red wines, they also produce a sparkling wine.
You can stay in one the 40 luxury cottages to enjoy the savour of farm living. They also have a tree house and a tented camp. Besides wine tastings you can enjoy a meal in their superb restaurants,, you can make farm tours, go horse riding or discover the MTB trail.
Tip: arrange a picnic basket and enjoy the breathtaking views over the Stellenbosch vineyards.
You don't have to make an appointment to visit Boschendal.
Address: Pniel Road, Groot Drakenstein, Franschhoek (it's on the route between Stellenbosch and Franschhoek)
Glenelly is led by a French lady that moved to Stellenbosch in 2003 to start a new adventure. She creates superb South African wines with a French twist.
The estate has a tasting room with a breathtaking view over the Stellenbosch Vineyards. The owner also has a spectacular glass collection that is ehibited in the museum. She even has pieces made by Salvador Dali.
You can make online reservations.
Address: Lelie street, Idas Valley, Stellenbosch
6. Kanonkop wine estate
Kanonkop wine estate is owned by the 4th generation of the Sauer family. The name of the Stellenbosch wine farm comes from the cannons that were fired to announce the arrival of ships entering Table Bay. When farmers heard the sound of the cannnon they traveled to the harbour to see if they could buy or barter their products for exotic products.
Kanonkop is a famous wine. The estate has a nice tasting room and a big shop.
No appointment needed (unless you are visiting with a group of 8 or more). Closed on Sunday.
Address: R44, Stellenbosch
7. Petere Falke wines
Peter Falke came from Germany and produces socks in a former life. His family came to South Africa in 1969 to make his dream, owning a wine farm, come true.
The estate is a traditional Cape Dutch house from the 18th century. They hace a wine tasting room and a lovely outdoor lounge where you can taste their wines while enjoying the view over the Stellenbosch Vineyards. You can also enjoy a light lunch in the restaurant.
Groups of 10 or more need an appointment.. Open till 19:00 while most other estates close at 16 or 17h.
Address: Groenvlei Farm, Annandale Road, Stellenbosch
Warwick dates back to 1771 and was a fruit farm at first. In 1964 the estate was bought by the Ratcliff family ad they started the winery; In a few decades they transformed it to one of the best wineries in Stellenbosch. Their Stellenbosch wines won several awards and are a true South African Icon. They offer one of the best Stellenbosch wine tours, Vineyard safari's and a gourmet picnic.
Book your visit by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Address: R44, Stellenbosch (between Stellenbosch and Klapmuts)
9. Spier wine farm
Spier Wine Estate is one of the oldest and most commercial wine estates in Stellenbosch. They make some delicious Stellenbosch wines that you can taste in the degustation room. For children they have a grape juice tasting. Young learned was done old!
They also have a luxury hotel, a good restaurant and a nice shop. You can order a picnic or visit the bird sanctuary. Horse lovers can explore the Stellenbosch Vineyards on the back of a horse.
No appointment needed.
Address: Baden Powel dr., Stellenbosh
10. Saxenburg wine farm
The Saxenburg estate is situated on the hills at Kuils river, between the Indian and Atlantic Ocean. The conditions for wine farming are perfect. You can enjoy Stellenbosch wine tastings, dine in the restaurant or stay in one of there self catering accommodations. There are also wild animals and they have a terrace with free WIFI. Drop your kids with the Ipad on the terrace while enjoying a wine.
No appointment needed.
Address: Polkadraai road, Kuils River (between Stellenbosch en Kuils river)
Photo credit: Saxenburg
Tokara is one of the best wineries in Stellenbosch. It lies on the southern slopes of Simonsberg mountain and is a Stellenbosch vineyard since the 17th century. From this Stellenbosch wine farm you enjoy spectacular views over False Bay and Table Mountain.
Besides wine tastings, Tokara has an superb restaurant and a nice shop. They sell wines and olive oils.
No appointment needed.
Address: Helshoogte Road, Stellenbosch
Babylonstoren is one of the oldest wine farms in Stellenbosch. It has huge Stellenbosch vineyards but it also grows fruit, and vegetables. It's one of the best wineries in Stellenbosch to visit; It is huge, has a big tasting room, many shops and a beautiful garden for a nice walk. You can book a table at restaurant 'Babel' or 'The Bakery'. Don't forget to visit their bakery and butcher. You can also stay in their hotel or cottages.
No appointment needed but they ask a small contribution fee.
Address: Klapmuts Simondium Road, Simondium (about 16 km out of Stellenbosch)
Map to plan your perfect Stellenbosch Wine Tour
This map shows you the best wineries in Stellenbosch. Pick a few and plan a tour.
Top Hotels in Stellenbosch
Wedgeview Country House & Spa
We stayed at Wedgeview Country House & Spa. This Stellenbosch hotel is located just outside of town in the middle of the Stellenbosch vineyards. The rooms are huge, beautifully decorated and the beds are comfortable. The bathrooms are pearls. For families with children there are connecting rooms. The hotel owner, and some employees, are Dutch. In the beautifully landscaped garden you will find a swimming pool with comfortable sunbeds where you can sleep off your hangover after tasting too many wines. Breakfast consists of an extensive buffet with your omelette, French toast or full English Breakfast prepared on request. Even during lunch you can go here, but for dinner you must book in advance.
We arrived at the hotel in Stellenbosch very late in the evening and were welcomed with a delicious cheese and charcuterie dish and freshly baked bread. Just what we needed after such a long trip.
Asara Wine Estate & Hotel
If you prefer to stay in a larger hotel in Stellenbosch, Asara Wine Estate is highly recommended. My father-in-law stayed there recently and was really enthusiastic. Here you can go for dinner every evening and that is absolutely an advantage. Although South Africa is a safe holiday destination, it is not so wise to drive in the dark.
The hotel is also a wine farm and produces it's own Stellenbosch wine. You can try it during their wine tasting experience.
It's also fun to stay in one of Stellenbosch wine farms. Check the list 'best wineries in Stellenbosch' above and see where they offer hotelrooms or cottages for a stay in the Stellenbosch Vineyards.
Top Restaurants in Stellenbosch
As we never knew in advance what time we were in the hotel, we could not have dinner. We were therefore forced to search for it outside the door. Luckily we discovered across the hotel Restaurant Skilpadvlei. The hotel takes its name from the giant colony of turtles that housed here in the 19th century. Nowadays it is a small Stellenbosch wine estate and olive grove. They rent cottages with one, two and three bedrooms, and they also rent three rooms in the B & B. The accompanying restaurant is very cozy and serves a fair and tasty cuisine. Skildpadvlei has grown into one of the most popular child-friendly destinations in recent years. The ribs are absolutely recommended and our children are still dreaming of the banana milkshake.
Hudsons, The Burgerjoint
In the center of Stellenbosch there are plenty of restaurants, but most are quite noisy. If you want a tasty burger, you must be at Hudsons, The Burgerjoint. They have an extensive menu and if you still can’t find it, just put your own burger together.
Wine Estate Middelvlei
In the afternoon you have to take part in a boerebraai, a South African BBQ. We did that at Wine Estate Middelvlei. My mouth still waters when I think of the braai bread (bread baked on the BBQ) with homemade pate and the pumpkin fries of Ouma Annie. For the children there is a custom menu and after dinner they can make their own marshmallows.
Wooden picnic tables and red parasols provide a relaxed atmosphere. The children run around in the garden, hug the dogs or play in the sandbox. Middelvlei is an address that makes everyone happy.
3 Things to do in Stellenbosch
Besides visiting the best wineries in Stellenbosch, there are much more fun things to do over here.
1. City walk
At the tourist office at Market Street you can get the brochure 'Stellenbosch on Foot'. There you will find a route along all the best things to do in Stellenbosch.
Some important sights are:
- Oom Samie se Winkel: this old-fashioned village shop has been in this beautifully restored Victorian building since 1904. The first owner was called Samie. The store sells all kinds of prularia. Take a biltong bag with you. The South Africans love this dried meat.
- The Burgher House from 1797.
- The VOC Kruithuis was built by the VOC in 1777 and is now a small military museum.
- Dorpstreet is the main street (where Oom Samie's shop is also located). The houses have beautiful façades and the road is bordered by ancient oak trees.
- Village museum: The museum consists of four restored houses. In the oldest house you can see how the early settlers lived. In one of the other houses you see how the rich 'burghers' lived in the mid-19th century.
- Slave houses: built in 1834 for the housekeepers.
2. Segway tour through the Stellenbosch wineries
A great trip for young and old: driving a segway through the Stellenbosch vineyards. Our children have been dreaming of a segway tour for years. During the past two years I searched the internet to see if we could arrange such a thing during our holidays. The problem was that the kids were still too young or too light (what European 10-year-old weighs 45 kg?). However, this time we got lucky. At Spier Wine Estate they offer several round trips and for the shortest tour (1 hour) you only have to be 10 years old. Of course, you also had to weigh 45 kg. Our youngest son is 10, but does not weigh 45 kg. So I informed the organization if it really was a must. Fortunately, that proved to be no problem. He had to show beforehand whether he was handy enough and that was of course no point. Grandma needed some more exercise before we could get along. Visiting this Stellenbosch wine farm is one of the best things to do in Stellenbosch.
We went with a guide to the vineyards, stopped at a few photogenic places and passed a chicken farm. Here they still know what "free range" means.
So whether you are traveling with or without children, a ride with a segway is highly recommended.
3. Visit Van Ryn's Brandewijn
You want to taste something else? Then a visit to Van Ryn's Brandewijn is a good alternative. Here they produce brandy since 1845. During the tour you will learn everything about the production process and of course a tasting is included. They combine the brandy tasting here with handmade Belgian chocolate and Brazilian coffee. You can also see how to make wooden barrels.
Perfect planning for 1 day in Stellenbosch
No idea how to plan it all in advance? Then I will give you an example of a perfectly planned day in Stellenbosch:
- 10.30 - Visiting Spier, a Stellenbosch Wine farm for a Segway tour. If you are an early bird, you can go somewhere before and taste a wine. It’s 5 o’clock somewhere! In addition, you are more relaxed on the segway.
- 12.30 - Middelvlei Wine Estate for the Boerebraai. Delicious lunch with a nice glass again.
- 15:00 - Visit De Toren, one of the best wineries in Stellenvosch for a great tour with, guess what, another glass of wine.
- Get back to your hotel to unwind and get ready for a delicious dinner in one of the Stellenbosch restaurants, with a glass of Stellenbosch wine to flush through the day.
Stellenbosch is not big. To give you an idea: all estates we visited were in a radius of up to 10 km around our hotel.
Daytrip from Stellenbosch to Franschhoek
About 30 km past Stellenbosch, you arrive in Franschhoek. At the end of the 17th century, the VOC allowed some French hugs families to settle here. These French roots are still noticeable in names like Haute Cabrière and Malherbe. You also notice the French influence in the restaurants. Here they serve typical provencal dishes and escargots.
Stroll through the cozy town, swoop in the nice shops and enjoy a terrace. At the center, at Huguenot Road, you can book tickets for the Franschhoek Wine Tram. This tram makes a trip through the vineyards and regularly stops for a tasting. If you re traveling with kids, they will enjoy the Franschhoek Wine Tram too.
If you really want to enjoy your visit, it's best to book a tour or a private driver.
Daytrip from Stellenbosch to Paarl
If visiting the best Stellenbosch wineries is not enough, you can also go to Paarl. Near the main street you will find Wijnhuis Laborie where they produce Vonkelwijn (South African champagne).
The vineyards in Paarl account for 20% of total South African wine production. You can follow the Paarlwineroute here. Most estates along this route can be visited without appointment. If you have a particular winery on your wish list, check their website before your departure.
Some toppers from this region are:
- Nederburg: Famous for its annual wine auction.
- Fairview: The goats that live here can climb the tower via a spiral staircase. They also sell delicious goat cheese.
- Rupert & Rothschild Vignerons: A collaboration with the French Rotschilds guarantees top wines.
After this overdose of alcohol, there is a good ride of about 450 km on the program. The next stop is Oudtshoorn, the ostrich city.
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