October 19, 2010
A fun day trip to do just outside of Cape Town is the wine lands region known as Stellenbosch. The trip is only about 45 minutes from the city and is well worth the drive. There are a few towns in the region that you can explore and many vineyards to do tastings at. You can do this as either a full day our half-day depending on how many tastings you want to do. I did a half-day tour and stopped at two vineyards. The landscape of the area is very beautiful rolling hills and blue sky as far as the eye can see. Many of the tastings also will do cheese or chocolate tastings to go along with the wine. I suggest doing a little research before going if you are very into wine so you get the maximum enjoyment out of the experience. I decided to tack it on as a half day on my last day there and did not do much planning ahead. I really enjoyed the scenery, but did not love the first vineyard I went to, and would have planned it differently had I thought about it more ahead of time. I went with Ilios Tours, who I did many tours with, and although I enjoyed the tour, I did not like the first vineyard we went to named Anura. We were able to do a tour there, which was nice and I would recommend going to at least one vineyard that gives tours of its property, but I did not like Anura’s wines and found their tasting a bit rushed and the woman leading it not very helpful or interested in explaining the wines and their differences.
The second vineyard named Dieu Donné had much better wines, but did not offer a tour of their facilities. Since I planned a half-day with Ilios I did not do lunch in Stellenbosch, but if you go on your own or with a private driver so you have flexibility (which I would suggest doing) you should definitely have a meal in town as some of the best rated restaurants in South Africa are in that area.
The area has an interesting history and it is worth taking the time to either drive or walk around a bit. The monument to the Huguenots, one of the founders of the area, is very pretty and worth a quick stop at. If you have a few days in Cape Town this excursion is worth your time and can easily be done in half a day, just be careful not to be too sloshed for the rest of your day’s activities.