Your South Africa Wine Country Getaway: Where to Stay, Sip Wine, and Dine
The more we travel, the more we realize that some of our favorite trips are our “wine vacations.” Some of our favorites have been the Burgundy and Champagne regions in France, Douro Valley in Portugal, and Goriska Brda in Slovenia. South Africa wine country is also on that list. It is STUNNING. It boasts rolling vineyards, quaint historic towns, amazing restaurants, and award-winning wineries. Stay for several days to truly enjoy the amazing cuisine and discover the beautifully-crafted wines. Here are my recommendations on where to stay, dine, and sip wine.
Where to Stay
Most will probably visit the Cape Winelands as a day trip from Cape Town. I think that’s a big mistake. If you love wine and foodie experiences, I strongly suggest renting a car and spending 3 nights out in wine country.
Franschhoek vs. Stellenbosch
One of your big decisions when planning your wine country getaway is where to stay. You will likely narrow it down to two choices: Franschhoek or Stellenbosch.
Stellenbosch is a large spread-out university town whereas Franschhoek is compact with many restaurants and shops within walking distance.
Both have amazing restaurants.
Both places offer a hop-on hop-off service to visit the wineries. Franschhoek has the Wine Tram, and Stellenbosch has the Vine Hopper.
I preferred Franschhoek, but the answer to where to stay will be based on your personal preference. Yes, Franschhoek is more “touristy,” but for me that was ok. I prefer not to have to drive anywhere, and after a full day of wine tasting, I appreciated the fact I could safely walk right over to dinner from my accommodation in Franschhoek.
Best Franschhoek Hotels
Cape Vue Country House in Franschhoek
Full disclosure. My husband and I tend to gravitate towards smaller boutique hotels with modern touches, great service, delicious food, and at least a 9.0+ booking.com rating.
We personally stayed at Cape Vue Country House and absolutely loved it! Basil (the owner) and Dino (hotel manager) were incredibly warm and welcoming. Located a quick 5-minute walk from town, this charming bed & breakfast was the perfect base for our South Africa wine adventure.
Front of Cape Vue Country House
Outside Terrace of Cape Vue Country House
Cape Vue Country House Bedroom
Cape Vue Country House Pool
There were three other fabulous properties we considered, which are all part of the Leeu Collection. This hotel group offers a range of unique guest experiences. The first property is Le Quartier Francais, a charming boutique hotel with a pool and two incredible restaurants, Protégé and Épice.
The second is Leeu House. With only 12 rooms, this charming boutique hotel is set in secluded gardens but is still close to all the action in downtown Franschhoek.
Then if you want to go really swanky and dine at the one of top South Africa wine country restaurants, then Leeu Estates is worth consideration. We didn’t stay here, but we did have a wonderful meal at their star restaurant, La Petite Colombe.
Where to Dine
The Table at De Meye indoor dining area
If you only have time for one incredible dining experience, pick The Table at De Meye. I still dream of the delicious meal and wine we had on a lovely afternoon after a day of wine tasting. Don’t get me wrong. We love Michelin-starred/rated experiences as well, but those are not the meals I remember.
Stuffed porchetta at The Table De Meye Restaurant in Stellenbosch, South Africa
What I do remember is the fresh sourdough bread that Chef Brendan had just made, the garden salad that was just picked from the garden, and the mouthwatering stuffed porchetta that was sourced from the farm next door. Leigh and her chef partner Brendan were incredible hosts, so warm and welcoming. I will reminisce about this meal for years to come.
Other incredible restaurants to consider are La Petite Colombe, Le Coin Francais, Chefs Warehouse at Maison, Overture, Rust en Verde, and Tokara.
If you want to read more about our restaurant selections, check out my article below.
Where to Sip Wine
Courtesy of Shutterstock: Cape Winelands
Wine is subjective. The best wine is the one you enjoy and like. My husband and I gravitate towards reds, so our winery picks will be biased.
If you are trying to figure out which wine regions are going to suit you best, I have written a concise article on South Africa’s best wine regions and wineries to visit.
We explored three incredible wine regions: Walker Bay (Hemel-en-Aarde Valley), Stellenbosch, and Franschhoek.
Multi course lunch with wine pairing at Creation Wines
We love pinot noir and specifically seek out exceptional examples in the countries we visit. Think Burgundy (France), Central Otago (New Zealand), Willamette Valley (Oregon), and Vipava Valley (Slovenia). I told you we love wine vacations!
South Africa also has a little Pinot Noir gem that is becoming more well known … Hemel-en-Aarde Valley in the Walker Bay wine region. Hemel-en-Aarde translates to Heaven and Earth in Afrikaans. Incredibly fitting description. If you are seeking exceptional South African wine in a gorgeous coastal setting, do not miss this region. Our top picks are Creation, Storm, Hamilton Russell, Crystallum, and Bouchard Finlayson.
All the details about our Hemel-en-Aarde Valley private wine tour can be found below.
Franschhoek & Stellenbosch
Moreson Winery in South Africa wine country
A South Africa wine country getaway must include visits to the exceptional wineries in Franschhoek and Stellenbosch. We wanted to do wine tastings in both, so we actually crafted our own wine tour using Uber. Yes, Uber! It can be done and allows for incredible flexibility if you plan it right. All details are in the article below.
Kanonkop Award Winning Pinotage
You go to Burgundy, France to taste exceptional Pinot Noir, Douro Valley, Portugal to taste Port, and Colchagua Valley to taste Carmenere. You get the point. If you are traveling to South Africa, you must taste their Pinotage! It’s a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault.
It first gained international fame in 1991 when Kanonkop’s Pinotage won the Robert Mondavi Trophy for the Best Red Wine at the International Wine and Spirits Competition in London. Of course, we had to visit Kanonkop in Stellenbosch, and it did not disappoint!
We also really enjoyed our wine tasting experience at Moreson Wine Farm in Franschhoek. They have an excellent MKM Pinotage and a lovely Blanc de Blancs.
South Africa Wine Country Itinerary
Highlights from our South Africa 2-week itinerary
South Africa wine country was just one of many stops of our epic 2-week Africa itinerary. My husband and I love planning trips and doing our own DIY travel. We shy away from large tour group experiences. If you are planning out your own wine country getaway and want some other suggestions for your South Africa itinerary, don’t miss my article below.
If you love sipping award-winning wine and enjoying exceptional food in a gorgeous setting, then South Africa wine country is your happy place. Stay in Franschhoek, don’t miss Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, and reserve some of those incredible restaurants in advance. Cheers!
Questions about our South Africa wine country getaway? I’m here to help.
Let me know in the comments below!