If there’s one thing Capetonians know how to do, and do well, it’s wine tasting and with well over 550 wineries in the Cape, we’re not short of options. Yet, our bountiful winelands have more to offer than sheer variety alone so if you’re in the mood for something special and a little more unusual than the standard wine tasting and lunch, here are five thrilling and memorable activities the Cape winelands have to offer.
1. Tuk-Tuk Wine Tour of Stellenbosch
Tuk-Tuk Stellies is a local tour company that offers daily chauffeured trips on three-wheeled tuk-tuk vehicles into Stellenbosch’s notoriously fruitful and spectacular winelands. This glorified golf cart nimbly zips from wine farm to wine farm and, having no windows or doors, eliminates all sensory barriers between the passengers and the fragrant vineyards. Tuk-Tuk Stellies offers both a half and a full-day tour. The half-day tours begin at 10am or 2pm and include wine tastings at Lanzerac, Morgenhof, and Simonsig wine estates. The full-day tour departs at 10am and entails a full indulgent day of wine tastings at Waterford (wine and chocolate pairing), Lanzerac, Neil Ellis (lunch), Morgenhof, and Simonsig.
2. Blend Your Own Wine in Robertson Wine Valley
Located in the Robertson Wine Valley, Excelsior wine estate offers visitors a truly unique experience: the opportunity to create your own wine blend. With a selection of fabulous wines to choose from, you can create a final product that is uniquely yours and caters beautifully to your palate. Craft a dramatic blend with Excelsior’s Paddock shiraz and cabernet sauvignon, or a powerfully elegant white with their chardonnay and viognier. Alternatively, you can go all out and throw together their entire range of reds or whites. Either way, the final product is uniquely yours and it will be bottled, corked, and finalized with a personalised label for you to take home as the perfect souvenir.
3. Cycle Tours of the Constantia Wine Valley
Stellenbosch may be the Cape’s best-known wine route, but the Constantia valley is the oldest, being the very place Dutch governor, Simon van der Stel, planted the first vines that conceived South Africa’s entire wine industry. So, leave the car in the parking lot and climb on a bicycle for an intimate exploration of this verdant, historic valley with its centuries old Cape Dutch architecture and vineyards that cling to the slopes of the Constantiaberg. AWOL Tours, a Cape Town-based company, runs leisurely half-day cycling tours that guide guests from wine estate to wine estate. Here, you can enjoy the spectacular scenery, learn about the history, and sample some of the Cape’s oldest wines at award-winning wineries that include Groot Constantia Estate, Buitenverwachting, Uitsig, and Steenberg.
4. Take-off from Paarl in a Hot-Air Balloon
An exquisite blend of thrill and romance, hot-air ballooning offers an unparalleled view of the Cape winelands’ patchwork quilt of vineyards, farmlands, and manicured gardens, all framed by the rugged grandeur of the Hottentots Holland Mountains. The tours, operated by African Travel Gateway, take off from a launch site near Paarl’s Grande Roche Hotel and include a hot breakfast at the hotel’s restaurant afterwards. With the Cape being infamous for its blustery weather, balloon trips only run from 20th November and 3rd May each year and are confirmed on the morning of scheduled departure. Tour operators recommend March as the best month, but with only one flight per day (and four people per flight) it’s highly recommended that you book well in advance.
5. Hop-on, Hop-off Franschhoek Wine Tram
The Franschhoek Valley is packed with some of the Cape’s best known and loved wineries and with so much to do and see in the region, the very best way to explore it all is by a hop-on, hop-off experience…in a tram! The Franschhoek Wine Tram operates four lines or routes within the valley, making a stop each hour at a different wine farm, so you can choose the itinerary that best suits your fancy. In addition to enjoying a leisurely open-air ride to your wine tastings, the trams afford passengers panoramic views of the stunning Franschhoek valley accompanied by a narration on the history of the region and its traditions of wine cultivation.
No one ever needed an excuse to enjoy wine, but now, with these five exhilarating ways to get to and around the Cape winelands, you can turn an already pleasurable day of wine tasting into a truly extravagant treat!