A Girl's Guide to

Stellenbosch, South Africa

june 10, 2018

The most underrated (in my opinion) wine capital of the world, is located just 45 minutes by car from Cape Town’s city center. This quaint university town is set in the mountains where the grapes thrive. South African wines, particularly those from Stellenbosch, offer incredible value for the bottle. But the charms of Stellenbosch don’t end with the wine itself. The town is very homey and charming with traditional Cape-Dutch architecture, the mountains and nature reserves appeal to serenity in the outdoors, and local businesses offer unique goods, services, and grub with warm hospitality. Any trip to Cape Town should be met with a romantic weekend amongst the vineyards in Stellenbosch.

sEE // Do

Let’s address wineries, first, cuz, priorities. The valleys of Stellenbosch make ideal grounds for viticulture. There are countless wineries in the area, many of which offer stunning views and wine tasting. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Delaire Graff has an absolutely gorgeous estate overlooking mountains and vineyards. The onsite restaurant is one of the best in the region. This winery doubles as a luxury hotel, complete with a diamond shop in the foyer.

  • Tokara is just down the road from Delaire Graff. The views are almost as good as Delaire Graff, but Tokara does stand out with its FREE wine tastings.

  • Villiera has some of my favorite wines in the area, including a phenomenal barrel-aged Chenin Blanc. As if that’s not enough, they also have a small game farm, where one can spot giraffes, zebras, wildebeest, and a variety of African buck. Call ahead for game-drive reservations.

  • Warwick has some amazing red wines. They’ll also arrange a nice little picnic to enjoy on the grounds.

  • Lanzerac Estate, located very near to town, offers a decadent wine and chocolate pairing. The hotel onsite serves as a lovely respite.

  • Stark-Conde and its onsite restaurant, Postcard Cafe, is truly a scene to write home about. One can taste wines on a dock floating on a calm pond in the cradle of mountains.

  • Ken Forrester has many accoladed wines and a lovely, relaxed garden for tastings.

  • Spice Route is a bit out of the way in Paarl, but worth the journey for its Chakalaka wine. There’s also a brewery and small epicure shop onsite.

Once you’re nice and boozed up from day drinking one may enjoy...

 

  • Burn off all the extra calories from wine by hiking in the Simonsberg Mountains or exploring the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve. Bonus points if you climb to the hidden waterfall in Jonkers.

 

  • The University Botanical Gardens have an impressive collection of flora and fauna, including an extensive number of bonsai trees. The garden also holds a lovely cafe and restaurant. Pop in to the gift shop for earthy souvenirs.

 

  • Route 44 Market is a great pitstop for food and souvenirs, open rain or shine beginning at 9am on Saturdays and Sundays.

 

  • Visit the local township, Kayamandi, for an authentic glimpse of life for many impoverished locals. I had the pleasure of volunteering at the highschool in Kayamandi and dearly cherish memories of some of the most optimistic and friendly people I have ever met. I recommend booking a tour, such as this one, when visiting.

 

 

  • If you can, line up your visit to coincide with on of the many Stellenbosch Festivals. Here’s a full list.

EAT // DRINK

  • The Fat Butcher serves incredibly tasty meats AND veg. Make sure to come hungry, because the portions are huge. Make a reservation ahead and request the warmly lit back patio.

 

  • Oppie Dorp is a Stellenbosch classic. They have nice presentation and service.

 

  • Wijnhuis offers fine dining and wine tastings in the center of town.

 

  • Helena’s Restaurant is another old favorite in Stellenbosch. The service is very attentive and flavors are rich. Indoor seating is very cozy and traditional, while the outdoor seating allows for ample people watching on the busy strip.

 

  • De Warenmarkt is farmers market meets high-end restaurant. Don’t miss the freshly shucked oysters and regional sparkling wines.

 

  • Basic Bistro is my go-to brunch spot. They have several varieties of french toast - you can’t go wrong with any of them, but my favorite is The Monkey’s Uncle.

 

  • Taste Bud has a super yummy and healthy lunch buffet - pay by weight. The sidewalk seating is lovely on a sunny day.

 

  • Meraki has the best coffee and wifi for a working afternoon - don’t miss the almond croissants.

 

 

  • Bohemia, an old favorite amongst the college students, is fun for day drinking and a bit of a party in the evenings.

Stay // Sleep

I recommend staying in the city center, so that you can experience this adorable little town by foot at your leisure. I especially enjoyed staying at the Coopmanhuijs Boutique Hotel & Spa. If you’re looking for a more intimate experience away from the city, many wineries have lodgings onsite.

GETTING tHERE // gETTING aROUND

I recommend taking an Uber (R300-400) or driving from Cape Town to Stellenbosch, which takes about 45 minutes. There is a train that runs from Cape Town to Stellenbosch, however the locals do not recommend this route because of safety concerns. I did use the train multiple times, but I will admit that it is sketchy. If you must use this form of transport, make sure to sit in a cabin with many other people and only travel during daylight hours.

Once you arrive in the town, everything is pretty walkable, yet there is Uber. To get to the wineries, I also recommend just taking an Uber. It’s super affordable and you have flexibility in transport times. Alternatively, you can hire a private driver or guide.