South Africa has long been known for it’s glorious sandy beaches, excellent game viewing and phenomenal food experiences. More recently there has been a growing demand for wine tourism throughout the Western Cape.
Following the drop of sanctions in the 1990’s, South Africa’s winemakers have been traveling the globe and many are known to work two annual harvests – one in SA at the beginning of the year and another in the northern hemisphere wine producing countries throughout Europe and the USA. This has enabled them to grow their knowledge and experience in terms of alternative vineyard and cellar practices and bring this knowledge home, which has directly translated into a dramatic positive evolution in the quality of South African wine.
As the quality of our wine has improved, so has the cellar door offering. At first most wineries offered tasting room facilities, but more recently having a restaurant or deli at the winery has become almost imperative. To be able to sit at leisure whilst enjoying a platter or meal and overlooking the spectacular vineyard and mountain scenery adds more of a lifestyle element to the offering. Many wineries are furthermore incorporating kids’ entertainment facilities as well, after all, if the kids are happily entertained, then Mom and Dad are more likely to stay longer and ultimately, spend more money on the day.
Wine tourism is today one of the biggest draw-cards for South African tourism alongside safaris and beach holidays. South Africa’s weak interest rate plays a major role in this as it is still considered to be a cheap destination for most international travelers once the pricey air fare has been covered. It is said that 9 out of ten visitors to the Western Cape somehow incorporate a visit to the winelands, whether as a day-trip or for longer stays.
Wine routes are geared for visitors of all ilk and with an offering of over 600 wineries to visit, there is no shortage in options to suit every taste and budget. Many wineries offer free wine tasting and others who charge for tastings are willing to forego the charge if a bottle of wine is purchased. For food fanatics, the options are myriad and include anything from cheese or charcuterie platters, nougat, chocolate or even traditional biltong (dried cured meat) pairings all the way through the board to exclusive fine dining meals.
Additional activities on various farms include game viewing, segway tours, horse riding and mountain biking, amongst others, all with stop-offs along the way to savour the nectar from that particular winery, so you never have to get too thirsty, no matter what you choose to do.
With top award-winning wines, food fit for royalty, spectacular views and scenery and fun for the whole family, visiting the South African winelands has never before been more appealing. Be sure to include a trip to any of the wine routes when you next visit the Western Cape and be prepared to be captivated with the best of the best lifestyle experiences the world has to offer.