Try These 7 Wine Experiences in South Africa’s Stellenbosch Region

The Western Cape’s Stellenbosch wine region is among the most notable and oldest wine-producing areas in South Africa. Although the region produces a variety of different wines, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinotage, Merlot and Shiraz are among the most famous. And who can say no to a Stellenbosch Chardonnay or Rosé?

With over 200 different wineries set along the lush rolling hills, it may be difficult to decide which ones to visit. In order to stand out, many Stellenbosch wineries have curated tasting experiences beyond the typical wine flight. So, if you dream of pairing cupcakes, picnics and safaris with your Pinotage, these are the winery experiences you should have when visiting the region.

Make sure to reserve these experiences in advance online, via email or by calling each winery. All of the wineries mentioned below are accessible via the Winetraveler App and Directory.

7 Best Stellenbosch Wineries You Need To Visit |
Image courtesy Lori Zaino.

Getting to Stellenbosch

First, you’ll have to get yourself to Cape Town, which is now possible nonstop on United from Newark Airport (EWR). Or, you can fly from the US with a layover in a spot like Johannesburg or London. Once there, the Stellenbosch wine region is less than an hour’s drive away. It’s easy enough to do in a day trip, or you can spend the night there (or several) to ensure you get a chance to try all of the Stellenbosch winery experiences mentioned below.

Picnic & Wine at Warwick

If lounging on a fluffy picnic blanket and pillow with a glass of wine in hand sounds like the perfect way to spend a sunny afternoon, a picnic at Warwick Wine Estate should suit your tastes. Gourmet picnic baskets (approximately $20 per person) come with items like a pear and pecan salad with beef biltong and gorgonzola and cape honey cheesecake with strawberries for dessert. Wine is purchased separately, and a bottle of the Warwick First Lady Rosé? It pairs perfectly with the basket on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Winetraveler Tip: Both vegan and vegetarian gourmet picnic boxes are available. Want to sit by the lake? No problem. You can even reserve your exact picnic table or blanket with a sun umbrella via a map of the grounds via the website.

Indian Runner Ducks & Wine at Vergenoegd Löw

The Vergenoegd Löw Wine Estate features a variety of wines that are available to try in their tasting room (a five-one tasting costs about $6). Their Runner Duck variety is aptly named, considering the farm on the estate is home to over 1,200 Indian Runner Ducks. But these duckies aren’t just adorable, they’re there for a special purpose: pest control. The ducks consume the snails and bugs that threaten the vines during their daily rounds. 

Winetraveler Tip: Make sure to tour the duck pens and breeding rooms post-wine-tasting with a duck herd guide. Or, enjoy one of the duck parades at 10:30 am, 12:30 pm and 3:30 pm seven days a week. 

Cupcakes & Wine at Delheim

If you’ve always wanted to test out how cupcakes and wine mesh, you can do so at Delheim. And not to spoil the outcome, but they actually fit perfectly together. The tasting, which costs about $8.50, features four unique cupcakes each with its own special wine pairing. The honeybush cupcake highlights the Chardonnay Sur Lie’s fruity, floral flavors, while the rooibos cupcake topped with cream cheese and cinnamon highlights the nuanced oak flavors of the Pinotage. The tasting is available daily between 10:00 am and 4:30 pm. 

Winetraveler Tip: You’ll never have to worry about staleness at Delheim — all of the cupcakes are baked fresh daily.

Olive Oil & Wine at Morgenster

Morgenster is just as famous for its olive oil as its wine, and they produce pure extra virgin olive oil with no additives. The wine range includes Bordeaux-style blends as well as Italian varieties. You can sample the full range of olive oils paired with three wines for about $5.50. The estate is especially beautiful as less than half is used to house the vines and olive trees. The rest of the lush land is wild and serene.

Winetraveler Tip: Have lunch at the onsite restaurant, 95 at Morgenster, pre-or-post-tasting.

Chocolate & Wine at Spier

The grounds at Spier Wine Farm are simply gorgeous, with an onsite lake and even a hotel. The tasting room is luminous and airy, the perfect place to pair wine and chocolate. Sample three of the Spier Creative Block blends paired with special chocolates, both white and dark. This particular tasting is $5, and if you aren’t feeling the chocolate you can always just do a wine and cheese tasting instead.

Winetraveler Tip: Bring the kids along — they can do the children’s grape juice tasting ($3). This includes a play packet, a tasting of two different grape juices and an educational activity sheet.

Bubbles, Sabrage & Boozy Popsicles at House of J.C. Le Roux

If you ever wanted to open sparkling wine with a sword, this demonstration at J.C. Le Roux will show you how with a traditional ceremonial sabrage demonstration. Plus, you’ll sample four different sparkling wines from the Methode Cap Classiques collection ($7). You can always accompany your bubbly with a platter of cheese or fresh oysters. Make sure to book at least 24 hours in advance.

Winetraveler Tip: Enjoy a refreshing sparkling wine popsicle on a hot day. These come in three flavors: strawberry and Sauvignon Blanc, litchi and Vibrazio demi-sec and a non-alcoholic strawberry and cream option.

Photo courtesy of Waterford Estate.

Safari & Wine at Waterford

This safari is a little different from others in South Africa — instead of lions, expect to see a lot of vines! But the concept is the same: you’ll take a safari vehicle deep out into the 120-hectare Waterford Wine Estate, which is bordered by the Helderberg Mountain (the three-hour adventure is about $90). You’ll learn all about the estate’s organic wine cultivation and of course, enjoy a wine tasting complete with snacks. If you prefer to stroll instead of ride, the winery also offers wine walks of varying intensity which also culminate in wine tasting and a light lunch ($38).

Winetraveler Tip: Wine safaris must be booked a week or more in advance.

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Lori Zaino is a travel expert that's lived in Madrid, Spain for over a decade. A self-taught oenophile and culinary connoisseur, she's just as comfortable backpacking through Latin America's wine country as she is demurely sipping Champagne in French castles.

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