Wine-making is a more than 300-year-old industry in South Africa, with most of its vineyards located in the lush Boland Basin around 80 km (50 miles) to the northeast of Cape Town proper. The river valleys that flow into the basin are ideal for growing a number of varietals, including Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir. The region is also home to five-star restaurants, exclusive boutiques and charming hotels. A trip to South Africa’s wine country is a journey of indulgence.
Cities in the Cape Winelands revolve around the wine trade and tourism. Visitors won’t find large shopping centers or commercial industries in towns like Franschhoek, Paarl or Stellenbosch. The cities are a wonderful place from which to explore the local wineries, however, and offer enchanting scenery at every turn. The entire region attracts locals and visitors looking for weekend getaways to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.
There are cultural gems to discover in the winelands region as well, such as the Huguenot Memorial Museum in Franschhoek. The Edenic Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden in Constantia Valley, which lies just 16 km (10 miles) outside Cape Town’s limits, is worth seeing as well. The gardens showcase South Africa’s indigenous plants, from wild petunias to protea, the country’s national flower. Hot air balloon rides are also available for an expansive view of the hills and valleys of Cape Winelands.