The Cape Winelands
is a region of the Western Cape Province of South Africa. It is the largest wine producing region in South Africa and is divided into six main wine regions, each offering its own unique wine route. We drove through parts of three of the regions: Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, and Paarl
The Cape Winelands (outlined in red here) is easily accessible from Cape Town for a day trip. There’s so much to do and see, we wanted to stay for a week.
, South Africa’s second oldest town after Cape Town, was founded in 1679 during the period of control by the Dutch East India Company. The name Stellenbosch (‘Van Der Stel’s forest’) was given to the site of Governor Simon van der Stel’s camp after he was captivated by the area’s beauty.
was founded in 1688 by French Huguenots. The area was originally named “Olifantshoek” after the vast herds of elephants that roamed the area. The name was later changed to “le Coin Français”
meaning “French Corner” and then finally to Franschhoek (Dutch for “French Corner”).
The name of Paarl
was derived from settlers seeing the giant granite rock, that sits atop a hill outside the town, glistening in the sun after a rainstorm. They named it “de Diamondt en de Peerlberg” (Diamond and Pearl Mountain) and later the Diamond part was dropped.
Our first stop was Delaire Graff Estate
for one of the most spectacular views in the wine country. The “Tuscany-esque” landscape provides the perfect backdrop to the estates exquisite restaurants, winery, art, jewelry and gardens. We only had time for a quick peek, but it was evident why people love this luxurious jewel in Stellenbosch.
Driveway to the Delaire Graff Estate winery.
A view across the Delaire Graff Estate.
Delaire Graff has stunning art, including these cheetahs by Dylan Lewis.
“The Passbook Must Burn!” by Hank Thomas is a tribute to mass demonstrations including passbook burning as a protest against apartheid.
‘sentinel’ by Lionel Smit
A quick wine tasting at La Motte
, and then we lunched at Bread and Wine, the yummy restaurant at the Môreson Family Winery.
We were first introduced to Môreson Chardonnay by one of the owners, Richard Friedman, who currently resides in Dallas. Their wines are served at Shinsei
and sold at Dallas Fine Wine
. It was fun to visit the vineyard that produces these yummy wines, plus our lunch was delicious.
La Motte’s original wine cellar was built around 1782. About 40 years later, the center gable, featuring the year 1825 was added. After complete renovations, the cellar was declared a National Heritage site in 1975.
Shauna and Rhys working up an appetite for lunch playing “life-sized checkers” at La Motte Winery.
Love this photo from their website, and Nikki’s quote: “if it was high it was meant to be climbed; if it was a fruit or looked vaguely edible it was meant to be eaten; and if there was even a ray of sunlight we’d still be out exploring…” Sounds like us!
Bread and Wine lunch – so fresh and creative and delish.
Our destination for dinner and overnight was Babylonstoren,
and as our godson Rhys, would say “Oh me oh my!” What a treat. We could have stayed at this lush, prolific farm and vineyard for days. The architecture, the wines, the gardens, the food, the accommodations and the service just couldn’t have been any better.
The gardens at Babylonstoren took inspiration from the Company Gardens of Cape Town that supplied passing ships to the Cape with food in the 1600s. (Aerial view photo from Babylonstoren.com)
The arbors in Babylonstoren’s garden were numerous and overflowing.
Shauna and Brandy enjoying the 10+ acres of gardens at Babylonstoren.
The lime and orange trees at Babylonstoren were heavy with fruit.
The historic Cape Dutch architectural style at Babylonstoren remains: whitewashed walls of thick stone or primitive brick, with ornate gables and thatched roofs.
Some of the farm’s earliest structures from the 1700s remain on the farm today. These former slave quarters have been restored in an authentic yet contemporary style as cozy and luxurious guest cottages.
Patchwork quilts of planted crops framed Babylonstoren’s grapevines. 200 acres of the 1400-acre farm are under vine, producing 13 different grape varieties.
All of the more than 300 varieties of plants in the gardens of Babylonstoren are edible or have medicinal value, with everything from blood oranges to asparagus, mushrooms and persimmons supplying the farm’s two restaurants: Babel and the Greenhouse.
The garden’s ever-changing and rich bounty of produce made for the most unique and inventive flavor combinations. Here, the evening menu’s ‘Yellow Plate’…
…and the ‘Red Plate’.
As the day turned golden we took a walk up to the dam to watch the sun set over this spectacular property.
Mark and Will try their hand at paddling a canoe with kayak paddles…..with Rhys in the middle.
Rhys isn’t so sure…..OK, he seems petrified.
Great silhouette on the lake.
The colors changed as the sun set…
…and varied from view to view.
It looks like Will has flashlights but it was actually the setting sun reflecting through empty wine glasses.
Special thanks to Khashana Travel
for our very special tour and getaway in the Cape Winelands.