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TThe West Coast Wine Route isn’t your typical Cape wine route. Along the diverse Cape West Coast, you can be beside the sea, atop a mountain, and knee-deep in daisies all in a day. If you’re up for a tasting adventure, in countryside that’s as complex as a fine wine's bouquet, West Coast wine farms will pop your cork.
On this north-western Cape wine route, Mother Nature is accorded great respect as the number of organic wine producers, and Biodiversity Wine Initiative member estates attest. Stellar winery is South Africa’s largest organic and fair trade winery, and produces a ‘stellar’ natural sweet wine from muscat d’alexandrie.
WWest Coast wine estates do things differently. You’ll have to make appointments to visit many of the wineries because their winemaker is off in the vineyards saving endangered tortoises, conserving succulent Karoo vegetation, harvesting by moonlight, or crushing grapes the old-fashioned way – by foot.
At Vredendal’s Namaqua winery, thousands of hectares of vineyards literally flow to the ocean’s edge. Here, fussy sauvignon blancs and pinot noirs are nursed beside the Atlantic, while colombard and chenin blanc thrive on the valley floor thanks to careful canopy management and micro-irrigation techniques. Have a bite to eat, and buy some of their super-affordable boxed wines to take with you.
At Lutzville, the second largest cellar in South Africa, you’ll find some superbly crafted, well-priced red and whites; and you’ll be glad you made the trek to Tierhoek as their chenin blanc, shiraz, grenache noir, and straw wines are attracting critical acclaim.
Most of Stoumann’s wines are exported, but if available, buy the Vin de la Tortue as the proceeds go towards saving Namaqualand’s geometric tortoises.
The West Coast Wine Route is home to a number of boutique and garagiste producers. On the outskirts of Vredendal, visit newcomer Bellpost wines. Head on to Cape Rock wine estate where, in addition to award-winning Rhône style reds, you can sample their mourvèdre, grenache and a Portuguese-style capa roca.
Teubes and Sir Lambert wine estates, owned by the Teubes family, are not-to-be missed. With all of the smaller West Coast producers, it's a good idea to make an appointment before visiting their wine estates.
Detour south-west to Seal Breeze winery for 100% handmade wine, or head coastward towards Bamboes Bay where Fryers Cove vineyards are situated to taste their exceptional sauvignon blanc.
Klawer Cellars wines are super-quaffable and kind to the wallet; also try their unusual African Ruby Rooibos Vermouth – a rooibos-infused red muscadel.
TTravel tips & planning info
Who to contact
Vredendal Namaqua West Coast Tourism Office
37 Church Street, Vredendal
24 hour hotline: 082 608 7554
Tel: +27 (0)27 201 3376
Vanrhynsdorp Namaqua West Coast Tourism Office
Tel: +27 27 201 3371
How to get here
The Olifants River Wine Route is 270 km from Cape Town, on the N7; or follow the R27 from Cape Town, along the West Coast. Most of the Olifants River producers are west of the N7.
Best time to visit
In early August and September, the West Coast is transformed into a wonderland carpeted with wildflowers. The MadeliefieMakietie, one of South Africa’s largest music festivals takes place at the end of October in Vredendal.
Things to do
In Vanrhynsdorp visit the Kokerboom Succulent Nursery, and the Latsky Radio and Van Rhijn museums; in nearby Clanwilliam visit the Clanwilliam Dam, Pakhuis Pass, Cederberg Wilderness Area and Ramskop Wildflower Garden.
What to pack
Though the West Coast is typically rainy in winter, sun protection is recommended year-round.
Where to stay
Melkboomsdrift Lodge, Tharrakamma, River Lodge and Van Rhyn Guest House in Vredendal. Stay in a Matjieshuisjkraal in the Griqua Development Trust at Ratelgat, or the Golden Grape in Lutzville.
What to eat
The West Coast, particularly Paternoster, offers some of South Africa’s most authentic and exciting dining. Wolfgat was voted the Best Restaurant in the World at the World Restaurant Awards recently. The West Coast is also renowned for its excellent seafood, table grapes, raisins, honey, rooibos tea and rooibos related products.