The Cape Winelands has long been known as the golden gourmet trail of South Africa, offering superb award-winning wine estates, a good balance of old and new, contemporary architecture and historical Cape Dutch properties, who have all opened their doors for tastings of the best of their harvest at cellar door prices but also pairing their famed wines with restaurant offerings that aim to wow. It’s the ultimate elixir: jaw-dropping scenery, great food, award-winning wines and to top it all off, travelers to South Africa from Europe, the Americas, Asia and the United Kingdom will be astonished by the inordinate value for money that SA offers.
It’s a tough job getting the final say on a few of our favourite finds and we could keep writing for months, giving you idea after idea for a superb lunch or dinner spot - outdoors, indoors, in amongst the vines, contemporary art background or even underground in a cellar but for the purpose of this article, we’ve chosen to select our five top wine estates in the Cape that offer wine tasting facilities together with a superb restaurant that offers a little something extra special.
1. Cavalli Estate, Stellenbosch
Award-winning wine, cuisine, design, architecture, indigenous gardens and art
Photo Credit: https://www.facebook.com/CavalliEstate
One of the newest members on Stellenbosch’s golden mile, this award-winning green-rated estate is just about as beautiful as you can get. It’s no wonder the owner family spent abundant resources pulling together a lifelong dream using Lauren Smith’s love and understanding for architecture to create both a wine estate and stud farm that has further pillars of excellence in its eco-friendly design and a nod to the arts in both it’s restaurant and underground gallery offerings.
Cavalli’s ‘Everyday Gourmet’ menu celebrates real food and the unsurpassable surroundings of the estate, putting a fine-dining spin on some of South Africa’s most loved dishes. As the first Green-star rated restaurant in South Africa, you’ll be left in awe of Cavalli’s vegetable and herb gardens, which are used in each seasonal and sustainable menu change.
You’ll have to travel far in the Winelands to find a more stylish place to enjoy lunch or dinner, which is available for patrons Wednesday through to Saturday with a lunch-only option being served on Sundays.
2. Tokara Estate, Stellenbosch
Picture perfect destination offering award-winning wines, brandy and olive oils
Photo Credit: http://www.tokara.co.za/gallery/
Further up the R44 highway that connects a vast majority of the wine farms between Somerset West, Stellenbosch and Franschhoek you’ll find Tokara Wine and Olive Estate.
Known to be one of South Africa’s leading fine dining restaurants, this is the restaurant to frequent during your stay for unsurpassable 360 degree views of Stellenbosch and False Bay. Head Chef, Richard Carstens wows in his very own theatre - a glass kitchen window offering a view into these state-of-the-art kitchens. Cartsens is a legend for creating contemporary masterpieces, our favourite South African plate to date has to be his take on a baked Alaskan salmon starter dish. Tokara restaurant is open for lunch Tuesdays to Sundays and for dinner Tuesdays to Saturdays. In summer, make sure you come early enough to sit on a deck whilst toasting in a sunset before your food journey begins.
3. Chefs Warehouse at Beau Constantia, Cape Town
Liquid Luxury, Outrageous Opulence
Photo Credit: http://www.beauconstantia.com/gallery/
Constantia in Cape Town is an area known for its exceptional beauty; right in the middle of this suburban haven you’ll find the boutique wine farm of Beau Constantia. Elevated vineyards and cool ocean-chilled winds, mean that the Du Preez family owners have found the perfect recipe for making pretty delicious wine in an unrivalled setting of natural beauty.
A new addition to this popular wine estate is ‘Chef’s Warehouse’ offering all visitors an exceptional lunch or dinner experience paired with their phenomenal wines. Be sure to sample their fine dining take on ‘Tapas for 2’ as you enjoy the best views that Cape Town has to offer.
Chef’s Warehouse offers a lunch service is from 12.00 until 14.00, with dinner offered from 17.00 until 20.00, Tuesday to Sunday.
4. Babylonstoren, Franschhoek
Perfect spot for wine sipping and cheese nibbling
Photo Credit: https://www.babylonstoren.com/tasting-room
Babylonstoren in Franschhoek is a space you’ll have to travel the world-over to try match. One of the oldest Cape Dutch farms in SA’s Winelands, this property has both heritage and diversity in immense measures. Unique accommodation, working vegetable gardens and a sense of calm combine to make this an absolute must for your Winelands visit. The choice of three restaurants on site, from fine-dining ‘Babel’ to a contemporary outdoor greenhouse terrace area or the famous bakery mean you’re spoilt for choice. If you’re looking for something unique- they’ve also just launched a healing tea ceremony in their Japanese-style tea house complete with a morning of learning from their horticulturist and naturalist on the power of plants and making your own tea fresh from the garden. Breakfast is unique take on the ultimate tea-spread all from ingredients that are both seasonal and mostly from their very own gardens.
Bookings for the tea ceremony and Babel are essential. Bookings for the Greenhouse are on a first come-first serve basis.
5. Delaire Graff Estate, Stellenbosch
The jewel of the Cape Winelands
Photo Credit: http://www.delaire.co.za/gallery/
Our final pick is often referred to as the jewel in the Cape Winelands, Delaire Graff Estate offers the chance to experience the perfect mix of mountain appreciation, luxury and service excellence.
Take a walk through their famous gardens, and stop to appreciate the sculptures, by the leading artists of SA on display. The owner of this estate is frequently named as one of the world’s top art collectors, so be sure to linger a little longer taking in both the natural botanical wonder and man-made collections on display.
This slice of paradise is best enjoyed, whilst sitting on the deck area of their restaurant and sampling the menu and their own wines, a combination that is best described as an exclusive celebration of taste.
Lunch is served daily from 12h00 to 14h15 with dinner available Wednesdays to Saturdays from 18h30 to 21h00.