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IIn the stormy corner of the continent, South Africa’s modern history began with a fledgling community, and a garden. Its raison d'être was to be a halfway stop between the East and the West, offering passing vessels refreshments, fruit and vegetables. However, something else rose very quickly to importance.
Jan van Riebeeck, the Cape’s first commander, erroneously believed that wine had a high vitamin C content, and that it would be a perfect remedy for the scurvy-afflicted sailors. He swiftly planted vines and within seven years, wine was already produced. These first vines were in the City Bowl near the Company Gardens, but the soil was far from ideal for viticulture and the wine was ghastly.
Thankfully, Simon van der Stel arrived just more than 20 years later, bringing with him knowledge and expertise in winemaking. He combed through the Cape Town soil, analysing it in one-kilometre intervals, until he hailed Constantia as the “terroir ideal”. Groot Constantia was given to him as his homestead, and it became the first wine farm in South Africa, and indeed the Southern Hemisphere.
Years on, and it’s an immense privilege to live in - and introduce visitors to - the infinite riches unique to this part of the country. Here’s a brief guide to four of the more noted wine-producing areas near Cape Town.
The leafy southern suburb of Constantia is home to Cape Town’s very own wine region, embracing nine farms on its official route. From 333-year-old heritage properties to the modern styling of the newer farms, this wine region can boast being the oldest in the Southern Hemisphere. The farms of Constantia honour their inheritance with exceptional wines and breathtaking scenery, perfect tributes to the opulence of modern history.
Foodies will revel in the various dining options available, including several top award-winning restaurants such as La Colombe, The Greenhouse, and Chef’s Warehouse.
My recommendations here include: the vine-laden panoramas at Constantia Glen, a modern tasting room experience at Beau Constantia, bubbly tasting at Steenberg, a garden getaway at Eagle’s Nest, heritage tours at Groot Constantia, sipping the legendary Vin de Constance at Klein Constantia, a market experience at Constantia Uitsig, superlative dining at Buitenverwachting, and sampling organic wines at Silvermist.
Van der Stel soon wanted to expand his vinicultural endeavours, and Stellenbosch became both the second town and wine-producing region in the country. A 45-minute drive from Cape Town and you’re in the heart of the “City of Oaks”, which has bragging rights to more than 170 wine farms, so you’ll never be short of variety. Enjoy a short stroll through the historical part of the city, with its al fresco dining and oak-lined streets.
My recommendations are Tokara for views, Delaire Graff for dining, Glenelly for French-styled wines, Spier for picnics and Segway tours, Waterford for wine and chocolate pairings, Villeria for bubbly, and Simonsig for heritage.
The third of the Cape settlements is Paarl, aptly named after early explorers likened the round granite rock that sits high above the town to that of a pearl. It’s a rather scenic drive up the mountain: leave your car at the final car park, and if you’re not afraid of heights, use the chain to climb to the top for astounding views of the town.
My farm recommendations are Spice Route Destination for an eclectic tasting adventure, Fairview for cheese and wine pairings, Nederberg for a heritage visit, KWV Wine Emporium for an educational experience, and Landskroon for a more intimate tasting option.
Hailed by many as the food and wine capital of South Africa, this quaint village must surely be one of the most beautiful in the land. The town is securely nestled in a picturesque valley, flanked on three sides by Cape Fold Mountains. In winter, it feels as if you’ve stepped into a little European village, sans the snow. You’ll also hear a variety of foreign accents, as Franschhoek is a popular tourist stop.
The name Franschhoek means French quarter, as the Cape government granted amnesty to French protestants who were fleeing religious persecution. Since they were renowned for being keen agriculturalists, they were given land, and so birthed the French influence that is still characteristic of the area. A stop at the Huguenot Memorial Museum in town will help tell more of the story.
My recommendations are Dieu Donne for views, Haute Cabriere for an underground cellar tour, Le Lude for bubbly tasting, Grande Provence for wine and art, Lynx Wines for a boutique experience, Boschendal for beautiful gardens, and Rupert & Rothschild for a stellar array of both local and international wines.
AAbout the author
Jared Ruttenberg is an experience junkie and aficionado: new experiences and an ever- changing horizon keeps him alive. Of course waking up in Cape Town - which he and a few million others think is just the most exciting city in the world - means there is much to explore. And then the rest of South Africa too - so much to see and so little time! Jared splits his time between writing, running private tours, and social media influencer work.
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With our country's 2500km coastline, in South Africa you are never too far away from the sea. From our tropical East Coast all the way to the sun-scorched West Coast, there's no shortage of beaches, sights and seaside life to craft the stories, that match that sun-kissed tan. Where else in the world will you find beaches littered with legends and caves? And how many other spots on earth have two oceans that embrace - one warm and the other an icy hug? This is how we South Africa. Come journey with us. There's always more to see.
Our culture is the expression of who we are and we are united in striving to express ourselves in a multitude of ways. We make the time to understand more about our country's traditional heritage, we know that the wise old ways of our ancestors will teach us where we have come from, and will guide us on our onward journey. This is how we South Africa! Come Journey with us.
Our industry has put in place globally-benchmarked health and safety protocols to ensure that all travellers and tourism sector employees are safe. We take everyone’s safety very seriously. Therefore, we plead with all travellers to embrace the new way of travelling within the COVID-19 environment, exercising patience as we have new protocols that must be observed and practiced.
With a countless number of places to see and exciting things to do in Johannesburg, everyone is bound to find entertainment to suit their tastes and their pocket. The vibrant culture and endlessly bustling hotspots are just some of the reasons why so many visitors keep coming back to the City of Gold.
With warm weather all year round, Durban, the hub of KwaZulu-Natal's leisure, business, and entertainment worlds, welcomes countless visitors to a relaxed, outdoor lifestyle where beaches barbecues, seafood and curry restaurants, clubs and upmarket accommodation establishments provide you with everything you could wish for while on your dream holiday.
At the tip of the African Continent, the Western Cape seems dazzling with more incredible scenery, attractions and sheer diversity than many other countries. From the world-famous Table Mountain to postcard-perfect valleys along the world’s most scenic wine route, a dream coastline decorated with historic towns and all of it lodged in some of the most unique and rare plant life in the world. And then there’s Cape Town, one of the world’s favourite cities, with its
From Durban – the sun, fun and entertainment capital of KwaZulu-Natal – to a magnificent stretch of Blue Flag beaches, surf spots and bustling holiday towns along the tropical to sub-tropical east coast, it’s hard to ignore this coastal treasure. And, moving inland, the Valley of a Thousands Hills and the UNESCO World Heritage Site Drakensberg Mountains ll up holiday memories. And through all this, explore nature and go on safari like nowhere else on earth at the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, or journey into the history and culture of the mighty Zulu Kingdom.
The North West’s rugged bushveld landscape overflows with wildlife and ancient history. Be inspired by canopy tours through the Magaliesberg Mountains – once lapped by the ocean’s waves, two billion years ago – safaris in the famous Pilanesberg Game Reserve with a foundation laid by volcanic rock, or trace the origins of man back 2.5 million years at the Taung Skull discovery site. And then, we invite you to experience the hospitality of Sun City, to get spoilt at the Palace of the Lost City or thrilled at the Valley of the Waves.
South Africa’s mega province provides the backroads into some of the most unique landscapes in the world – some harsh, others spectacular, and some, simply not from this world. From the towering red sand dunes where black-maned Kalahari lions roam to the bizarre halfmens plants in the /Ai/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park, and from a billion owers bursting to life every year in the dry land of the Namaqualand to the Augrabies Falls, known as “the place of great noise”. Then there’s the rich history of diamonds, the rustic beauty of the Diamond Coast, and the epic Big Hole of Kimberley.
The Free State is a place of wide open spaces and true South African hospitality to go with rich history, stories of battles, gold rushes, early man and even dinosaurs. With its endless blue skies and at bushveld plains, here the silence of nature simply screams out for adventure – whether it is safaris, rafting, 4x4, skydiving, inspiring nature hikes, the famous Orange River safaris and water sports on the Gariep and Vaal dams. But, highland- safari journeys in The Golden Gate Highlands National Park stand out from the rest with its iconic golden sandstone cliffs.
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