These unique wine breweries in South Africa will add a wonderful spirit to your explorations in the Rainbow Nation
Travellers to South Africa usually have a diverse checklist while putting together their itinerary. Adventure: check. Wildlife: check. Beaches: check. Culture: check. History: check. Food trails: check. Luxury: check. These elements may be mixed and matched to curate the perfect customised itinerary, depending on the interests of the traveller, and who they are travelling with. And, yet, the one thing most travellers deem their trip to South Africa incomplete without is a visit to the country’s beautiful wine regions or the finest local wineries. South Africa offers a holistic wine experience with full-bodied cabernet sauvignons and pinot noirs, the lighter chenin blancs and chardonnays, and unique varietals such as pinotage (an earthy red wine) and méthode cap classique (South Africa’s version of champagne).
Everyone knows that a wine is only as good as its maker, and South African winemakers sure take their wines seriously. They give the world complex, exciting and high-quality wines that have great drinkability and a lovely freshness. While Stellenbosch and Franschhoek are the most well known of the Cape Winelands, the wineries of Constantia (above), Paarl, and Somerset West also deserve to be a part of your wine appreciation itinerary.
If you’re looking for wineries to visit on your next trip, this is a list of some of the most unique vineyards and wine breweries in the Rainbow Nation. And we’re throwing in some easy terminology to help you navigate these winelands with ease.
Lanzerac Wine Estate
And Until You Get To Visit…
Home to the legendary Vin de Constance sweet dessert wine, this venue has been famous for centuries. Both Napoleon Bonaparte and Fredrick the Great adored the Vin, so much so that Napoleon requested a bottle of this particular wine on his deathbed. Even Jane Austen and Charles Baudelaire referred to this wine in their writings. With just the right amount of sweetness and a golden honey colour, this drink is considered to be a restorative elixir.
Klein Constantia has been described as one of the world’s most beautiful vineyards, and is set amid ancient trees and lush greenery on the upper foothills of the Constantiaberg, with superb views across the Constantia Valley and False Bay. The unique location, the climate and the soils of the estate call for the making of terroir-driven wines. Simple winemaking techniques are used to extract the best from grapes grown in expertly-nurtured vineyards to make wines that express elegance, minerality and balance. The cooler temperatures result in an increase in concentration and flavour while preserving the acidity and pH of the white varieties, especially the Sauvignon Blanc.
With the word ‘Delaire’ meaning ‘from heaven’, this estate set at the heart of South Africa’s Winelands is truly a slice of paradise. Graff is the surname of the current owner, diamond and jewellery trader Laurence Graff. The wine estate’s top sparkling varietals are also named in honour of some of the rarest diamonds, some of which have been hand cut by the owner. Here, savour a wine-tasting experience like no other – sample some of South Africa’s finest vintages accompanied by spellbinding views across Simonsberg Mountain. You can make a day visit for a wine tasting, or stay overnight in the luxurious Relais & Chateaux lodge. The infinity pool and spa are temptations enough to return, as are the gourmet meals on the property that feature freshly-picked ingredients daily. The award-winning wines feature Bordeaux and chardonnay varietals.
This winery comes with a strong commitment to social impact and the environment. It is one of the few WWF Conservation Champion Wine Estates, which only makes its incredible chocolate and wine pairings sweeter to the palate. Delightful offerings include white peppered plum chocolates paired with a rosé, and white cardamom and passion fruit chocolate paired with a classic red.
The estate helps the environment by recycling and using 100% of its waste water, and helps the local community through its ‘tree-preneurs’ programme that empowers people from some of the Cape’s most underprivileged communities. Through the programmes, locals are taught to care for indigenous trees and plants and are given seedlings to nurture. Once these have reached nearly a foot, they can be exchanged for vouchers for food, clothing, agricultural goods, tools, bicycles and educational support.
Lanzerac Wine Estate
Only a few years younger than the city of Stellenbosch itself, the Lanzerac Wine Estate is one of the most historic wineries in South Africa’s Cape Winelands. Established in 1692, this estate is home to the world’s first bottled pinotage and has been cultivating award-winning wines for decades. How did this come about? In 1925, Professor Abraham Izak Perold, the first Professor of Viticulture at the University of Stellenbosch, successfully crossed two grape varietals, Pinot Noir and Hermitage (Cinsaut), to create South Africa’s first unique and indigenous wine grape variety – Pinotage. Several years later, the Lanzerac Wine Estate became the first winery in the world to use the term ‘Pinotage’ on its label when it marketed the 1959 vintage under the name ‘Lanzerac’. This visionary release marked the birth of pinotage as a unique variety from South Africa.
A tasting experience at this estate includes five samples of your choice from its premium selection of wines. Tour groups often also get a tour of the Lanzerac wine cellars, and independent visitors can sample wines at the restaurant on the property.
And Until You Get To Visit…
Sommelier Nikhil Agarwal chose the M.A.N Vintners Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 as one of his value-for-money picks in wines this year. From the Coastal Region, and made from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, this wine is available in India for under Rs 2,000. “South African wines are very underappreciated, and offer excellent value in general,” says Agarwal. “This Cabernet Sauvignon from the Man Family is a great find and, I must admit, one of my go-to wines during the start of the pandemic. Many, many bottles of this have been consumed. Expect a perfect marriage of new world vibrant fruit and old world elegance. Deep garnet in colour, this wine has aromas of dark cherries followed by cassis and redcurrant fruit on the palate. Silky tannins and a long smooth finish characterise this versatile Cabernet Sauvignon.”
Also see: Five Reasons You Need To Visit South Africa