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 & vineyards 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 wine tastings and tours in advance online, via email or by calling each winery. We also highly recommend staying at the opulent Delaire Graff Estate and using it as a home base while you visit nearby wineries. For a more thorough and epic experience, be sure to also look at our recommended 2-week South Africa itinerary.
Top Wineries & Wine Tours to Try in Stellenbosch
Without further ado, here are some of our top picks for wineries to visit in Stellenbosch if you’re brave enough to do it in a self-guided fashion. If you’d prefer not to drive and want a local’s perspective, our current favorite recommended private wine tour leaves from Cape Town, and includes stops at 5 stunning wineries. However, perhaps the best way to explore Stellenbosch is to go wine tasting by bike. This guided tour offered by Adventureshop Stellenbosch has received countless 5-star ratings from our readers. It takes you on a 4-5 hour bike ride through the historic city center and includes stops at two luxurious wine estates, as well as the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve. If you’re still looking for more guided options, we’ve included more of our favorites towards the bottom of this list of top wineries.
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, followed by local specialty beef biltong and gorgonzola, and ending with 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 lack of freshness 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 try the children’s grape juice tasting ($3), which 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.
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.
Getting to Stellenbosch, Where to Stay, & Tour Options
To explore Stellenbosch vineyards, you’ll first 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. Check for deals on flights into Cape Town here.
Once there, the Stellenbosch wine region is less than an hour’s drive away. We recommend renting a car, as 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 above. If you still haven’t settled on lodging, take a look at some of the best hotels in the Stellenbosch region here, but if we had to choose a great option as a base with vineyards on site, you should try this luxury vineyard hotel.
Wine Tours in Stellenbosch
As we’ve mentioned, it’s fairly easily visit any of the recommended wineries above in a self-guided fashion, but often, nothing compares to a local’s experience. Tour operators like Afrivista have been around for decades and our readers rave about them. If they happen to be booked (which is common), don’t fret. There are plenty of other guides that operate in the area offering wonderful half-day and full-day wine tasting experiences. Africa Select offers a full-day tour through 3 sub-regions, including local food and wine pairings and a ride on a wine tram.
If you’d prefer to avoid other people, schedule a private full-day trip with Elegant Country Tours, we highly recommend this group for each guide’s exceptional service and love for their country’s experiences. It’s customizable and hotel pickup/drop-off are included.
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