AWOL Winelands Cycling Tours
AWOL Winelands Cycling Tours

Wine tasting, staring boggle-eyed at world famous scenery, and tucking into delicious, South African-inspired food made from farm fresh, local ingredients – as fabulous an experience as it all is – is pretty much the standard Cape winelands itinerary. If you really want to mix up your winelands experience, how about making yourself comfortable on a manicured lawn and mowing your way through a picnic hamper filled with freshly baked goodies?

Alternatively, you could kick off your day of indulgence with a hike through the winelands’ spectacular combination of indigenous vegetation and vineyards. Or how about discovering the pleasure of interesting food and wine combinations with an off-the-wall wine pairing experience? Or sailing your way from one tasting to another on the back of an antique tram, tuk tuk, hot air balloon, or barge?

The Cape winelands is a treasure trove of unforgettable experiences just waiting for you to step foot of the beaten path so… what are you waiting for? Here they are!

Wine Farm Picnics

Tuck into a picnic hamper filled to overflowing with lovingly made breads, pastries, and cakes; spreads and salads made from fresh, locally sourced ingredients; and artisanal charcuterie and cheeses, all prepacked for your convenience and enjoyed in the shade of centuries-old oak trees. Throw spectacular views of vineyards, clipped emerald lawns, and colourful indigenous gardens into the mix – as well as a bottle of wine – and you’ve got the epitome of a perfectly lazy day in the Cape winelands.

Noble Hill Picnic

Here are some top-notch winelands picnics to experience (*Always make sure to book in advance so as not to miss out!)

Allée Bleue Wine Estate, Groot Drakenstein
Boschendal Wine Estate, Pniel
Grande Provence, Franschhoek 
Holden Manz Wine Estate, Franschhoek
Noble Hill Wine Estate, Simondium-Paarl
Buitenverwachting, Constantia
Cape Point Vineyards, Noordhoek
Delheim Wines, Stellenbosch
Hazendal Wine Estate, Stellenbosch
Jordan Wine Estate, Stellenbosch
Lanzerac Wine Estate, Stellenbosch
Quoin Rock Wine Estate, Stellenbosch
Warwick Wine Estate, Stellenbosch/Klapmuts 
Zorgvliet Wine Estate, Stellenbosch
Spier Wine Farm, Stellenbosch
Vergelegen Estate, Somerset West

Wine Farm Hiking Trails

Earn your gourmet lunch, picnic, wine pairing, and tasting with a walk through some of the Cape’s finest scenery. Many wine estates dedicate a portion of their acreage to the conservation of indigenous vegetation so the trails take in a mix of lush vineyards and mountain fynbos ablaze with proteas and other colourful flower varieties. The 5 km La Motte farm trail in Franschhoek starts at the tasting room and, with a 2 km grade 1B rating, can be completed in two hours by the fairly fit and in three hours by those taking it a little slower.

Also in Franschhoek, Mont Rochelle Wine Estate lies in the Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve, which is part of the UNESCO declared Cape Winelands Biosphere Reserve. Here, visitors can enjoy spectacular views of the Franschhoek Valley, diverse plant and bird life, and over 30 km of safe, well-maintained hiking trails ranging from two-hour walks to day hikes.

Mont Rochelle Hiking Breakfast Rock Trail
Mont Rochelle Hiking Breakfast Rock Trail

Other wine farms offering hiking and biking trails include Boschendal (Franschhoek), Thelema (Stellenbosch), Zewenwacht (Kuils Rivier), Delvera Wine Farm (Stellenbosch), and Lourensford (Stellenbosch).

Wine pairing experiences

No romance in history – no matter how star-crossed – can rival the beauty and compatibility of food and wine. But there is an art to pairing food with wine and you can experience it in all its palate-pleasing grandeur at just about any wine estate in the Cape winelands. There are the tried-and-tested (and loved) pairings, such as cheese and wine at Steenberg Farm in the Constantia Wine Valley or charcuterie, wine and MCC at Môreson in Franschhoek.

And then there are the slightly more unorthodox pairings, like Eikendal Vineyards’ cheesecake and wine; Clos Malverne’s ice cream and wine; Lourensford’s Belgian chocolate and wine; Delheim’s fynbos cupcake and wine; Zandvliet’s citrus and wine; or even music and wine, which is offered by Black Elephant Vintners & Co. Just about every wine estate – and there are over 550 in South Africa – has its own horizon-expanding offering so there is no limit to the education and indulgence on offer. All you have to do is explore!

Clos Malverne’s ice cream and wine
Clos Malverne’s ice cream and wine pairing

Off-the-wall experiences

Did you know that drinking and riding in the Cape winelands is perfectly legal? Provided your mode of transport is an antique tram, tuk tuk, barge boat, or bicycle, of course. With so much glorious wine on offer, who wants the responsibility of being designated driver anyway? Here are some fabulous and unforgettable ways of exploring the Cape Winelands:

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.

Tuk Tuk Stellies
Tuk Tuk Stellies

Tuk-Tuk Stellies is a local tour company that offers daily, half- and full-day chauffeured trips on three-wheeled tuk-tuk vehicles into Stellenbosch’s notoriously fruitful and spectacular winelands. The half-day tours begin at 10 am or 2 pm and include wine tastings at Lanzerac, Morgenhof, and Simonsig wine estates. The full-day tour departs at 10 am and entails a full indulgent day of wine tastings at Waterford (wine and chocolate pairing), Lanzerac, Neil Ellis (lunch), Morgenhof, and Simonsig.

Climb on a bicycle for an intimate exploration of the verdant, historic valley of Constantia with its centuries old Cape Dutch architecture and vineyards. AWOL Tours, a Cape Town-based company, runs leisurely half-day cycling tours that guide guest from wine estate to wine estate, where you can sample some of the Cape’s oldest wines at award-winning wineries that include Groot Constantia, Buitenverwachting, Uitsig, and Steenberg.

Other unforgettable Cape winelands experiences include Jordan Wine Estate’s vineyard safaris (vineyard tours on the back of a safari vehicle); Spier Wine Farm’s Segway tours through the vineyards; Benguela Cove Estate’s wine tasting on a boat on the lagoon; and – thrill of all thrills – Klein Joostenberg’s hot air ballooning over the Stellenbosch Winelands.