There are SO many reasons for you to visit a wine farm – whether you drink wine or not!
South Africa is known around the world for its epic natural beauty – and you’d be hard pressed to find any wine farm which doesn’t boast some sort of glorious setting. Mountains, dams, rolling vineyards, gardens, golf courses, the ocean – these are just some of the views you might expect – but don’t underestimate how atmospheric even facing a cellar can be!
We all lead busy lives, and without doubt COVID has wreaked havoc on our sense of calm. Wine farms are a great antidote, as they are generally always set amongst nature, with the sounds of birds and the smells of fragrant jasmine a common occurrence. Some offer walking trails and even in colder months, may feature cosy fireplaces and scenic outdoor views.
We can’t talk about wine farms without mentioning all the delicious world-class wine that’s on offer. South African wine is growing in popularity around the world and it’s easy to see why. With winemaking techniques straddling both New and Old World, a wide choice of affordable varietals and an increasing focus on quality over quantity, it’s a win/win for consumers.
South Africa is blessed with incredible produce and talented chefs, so many wine farms have capitalised on this, making dining an integral part of their experience. With locally sourced fruit, veg and meats complementing their wines, look out for gourmet picnics, deli platters, afternoon tea, food pairings, casual hearty fare, bakeries and farm-to-fork fine dining.
If you’ve got kids, you’ll know how tricky it can be to keep them entertained, without technology. Well look no further! 99% of wine farms are free to enter and many offer jungle gyms, grassy lawns and gardens, ripe for exploring. You might also find activity centres, bike and horse trails, wildlife, classic cars, water fountains, markets, plus picnics and grape tasting!
So we’ve ticked off wine, restaurants, history, markets and family fun. What more is there to do? LOADS! Just some of the extra activities on offer include cellar and vineyard tours, wine workshops, ‘make your own wine’ experiences, sculpture gardens, beautiful art and craft gift shops, hiking, cycling and running trails, horse riding, wine & game ‘safaris’. Phew!
When you’re surrounded by agriculture, fruit farms and country living, what better way to explore all that’s on offer than by visiting some of the wine farm markets and deli shops? Delis usually stock a range of delicious local produce, wine and gifts, whilst the family-friendly markets tend to focus on food, arts and crafts – and are most common in the warmer months.
South Africa’s first vines were planted in the 1600s, so it’s no surprise that many wine farms date from this time – offering a slice of history and unique architecture. From Cape Dutch heritage buildings to ultra-modern works of art, wine farms come in all shapes and sizes with several also featuring museums and art galleries which can be explored on organised tours.
Many wine farms are family-owned and you’ll often find this family ethos echoing throughout your encounters with wine farm staff. Wine tasting can be an intimate experience, for as you listen to your hosts explaining about the farm’s ‘terroir’ – the land, the climate and soil – they’ll also often share some history and backstories which have shaped the farm’s identity.
Not only is the world becoming more health conscious (with arguably more teetotallers), but the repeated on/off alcohol bans during South Africa’s COVID lockdowns have meant wine farms have diversified. So, on your next visit, you might find low calorie, low alcohol wines or mocktails – plus beer, brandy, port or whisky tastings, plus a number of inviting soft drinks
If you just can’t get enough of the wine farm vibe, why not stay overnight? Accommodation options range from simple cottages and apartments, to 5 star luxury suites and exclusive-use homesteads, ideal for larger groups and extended families. Often accommodation includes extra perks, with many deals also on offer in the cooler winter months.
If relaxation is more your thing, wine farms also offer the perfect setting for precious time spent with loved ones. At weekends, some offer atmospheric live music, whilst larger estates with accommodation may also offer indulgent spa treatments. Farm-produced picnics are popular in summer – as is just bringing a blanket and watching the world go by.
Would you like to join in the annual grape ‘harvest’, sample a new vintage before it goes on sale, or tuck into delectable cuisine paired with fine wines, hosted by the winemaker themselves? Many wine farms host exclusive events throughout the year designed to bring you closer to the heart and soul of winemaking, sharing the stories behind the labels.
What better place could there be to tie the knot with the one you love, than a spectacular country setting surrounded by vines? Many wine farms specialise in weddings and celebrations – as they often have a selection of picture-perfect indoor and outdoor spaces, which can cater for parties of all sizes. Some even feature romantic and totally unique on site chapels.
With many offering catering facilities, a range of indoor and outdoor function rooms, accommodation and abundance of country air, it’s no surprise that many wine farms play host to team building events, product launches and corporate getaways. Packages are usually on offer which can include optional wine, wine tasting, tours and accommodation.
Although wine farms are by nature fairly rural, roughly 95% of them are located in the Western Cape, relatively close to a number of major towns and cities. There are over 250 alone within 2 hours drive of Cape Town! It’s easy to get out in nature, base yourself in an area and explore a few at a time – or book a tour guide or transfer for a stress-free experience.