On the Western Cape Brandy Route, discover a beverage that’s come a long way. Once the embodiment of apartheid in a bottle, early slaves were ‘paid’ with poor-quality wine – and brandy was the oppressor’s drink of choice. Today, few countries can equal South Africa’s range and quality of brandy.

Did you know?

South African has some of the most stringent brandy production regulations in the world.

Explore the Western Cape Brandy Route, and you’ll soon discover why brandy is one of South Africa’s favourite drinks.

Brandy was first distilled in South Africa in 1672. Hailing from the Dutch word brandewijn, meaning 'burnt or distilled wine', back then, brandy was a means of preserving wine for long sea voyages.

Fast forward to 1998, when the South African Brandy Foundation launched the first Cape Brandy Route featuring a handful of grape alchemists patiently nurturing their copper stills and French oak barrels. Since then, a Route 62 Brandy Route has also been introduced.

The Western Cape Brandy Route spans Worcester, Wellington, Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Paarl and Grabouw, with 14 different brandy distilleries for you to visit.

In Worcester, you’ll find the KWV House of Brandy. With 120 pot stills under one roof, it’s the largest facility of its kind in the world, and you can see their resident cooper at work.

If you plan to visit any of Wellington’s four producers – Upland, Oude Wellington, De Compagnie, or Sauvignac de Versailles, make an appointment. At these artisanal brandy cellars, you’re assured of generous brandy tastings and fulfilling interaction with the brandy master.

In Paarl, you’ll find heavyweights Backsberg, Laborie and Nederburg. Laborie makes alambic (hand-distilled) brandy, while Nederburg uses the solera, or fractional blending, maturation method. Be sure to buy a bottle or two before the angels come to claim their share.

Before touring Stellenbosch, head over the mountains to Franschhoek, to Haute Cabriére for traditional estate brandy, and their ratafia – a chardonnay fortified with brandy.

In Stellenbosch, take the Van Rhyn's Cellar’s brandy cellar tour, followed by a chocolate, coffee, and brandy pairing. Here too, visit Louisenhof, Tokara, Uitkyk, Avontuur and Kaapzicht estates for brandy tastings.

Your final (or first) stop on the Western Cape Brandy Route is to learn about Rene Santhagens, the ‘father’ of brandy making in South Africa, and admire Big Bertha, the largest still in the Southern Hemisphere, at the Oude Molen Distillery in Grabouw.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

The South African Brandy Foundation
Phone: +27 (0)21 882 8954
Email: admin@sabrandy.co.za

How to get here

The N1 and the N2 are the major arteries of the Western Cape Brandy Route, which branches off on the R300 and the R44. The route is not sign posted. Visitors should contact the SA Brandy Foundation for a map and assistance with directions.

Best time to visit

Visit the cellars on the Western Cape Brandy Route any time of the year.

What will it cost

Each cellar determines its own tasting fees, if any. Phone ahead or enquire at the tasting room door.

What to eat

Brandy presents a wide spectrum of aromas and flavours. Choose a brandy that echoes the flavours in the dish you've chosen. Premium brandy pairs well with dishes with a high-fat content such as chocolate and cheese.

What's happening

The annual Fine Brandy Festival, held in May and organised by the South African Brandy Foundation, is a showcase of Cape brandy.

Best buys

Gold medal, international competition-winning South African brandies offer exceptional quality and value.