Wednesday, 8 August 2012 10:27 AM
Having a long winemaking history, South Africa is a fantastic destination to choose if you are planning a wine break. In addition to sampling fine wines, you can taste delicious cuisine and see some truly stunning scenery.
An introduction to wine in South Africa
If you want wine to be the focus of your luxury getaway in South Africa, you should plan to explore the beautiful Cape Winelands. Situated about an hour away from Cape Town, they are regarded as the heart of the nation's winemaking. Boasting a balmy Mediterranean climate, they are generally best visited in December or January, which are the local midsummer months.
The history of wine in South Africa dates all the way back to 1659 and, by coming to the Cape Winelands, you can learn about this rich past, as well as the modern winemaking process. While you are learning, you will, of course, also have the opportunity to taste some of the wines you are discussing, which will undoubtedly be a highlight of your trip.
Where to go
When it comes to deciding where to go within the Cape Winelands, you will find there are a few destinations that really stand out. Among these is Franschooek Valley, where sprawling wine estates hem in a central village. Often described as the world's most beautiful wine valley, it is perhaps the ultimate destination for holidaymakers looking for a balance of viticulture history and glorious landscapes.
One of the most charming things about attending a tasting here is that, while you are sampling the local produce, you can enjoy a stunning view of the vineyards where the grapes used to make your drink grew – something that is bound to delight anyone truly passionate about wine.
Other options to consider include the towns of Stellenbosch and Paarl, both of which are renowned for being charming places to base yourself for tours of the Winelands. Indeed, these destinations are notable for their Dutch architecture and splendid restaurants, where you can experience some of the best of South African cuisine along with, of course, a drop of local wine.
What to do
It is worth giving a little thought to what kind of activities you would like to do while you are here. Wine tastings are likely to feature heavily, but you should consider how in-depth you would like these to be.
For example, you can take more general tours of the vineyards to see how the drink is made, while you can also choose winemakers interaction tours, which are aimed at those with a good existing knowledge of wine and who would like a more intimate tasting experience.
While wine will, of course, be the focus on your getaway, the destination has much more to offer. You will also find excellent golf courses, for instance, in addition to hiking and cycling routes and opportunities for adventure sports.
Planning your itinerary
When planning a wine holiday in South Africa, you will need to decide whether you want to base yourself in the Cape Winelands for the whole of your trip, or if you would rather simply visit for a day or two during your getaway.
One option is staying in nearby Cape Town, where you can experience its excellent array of attractions, such as ascending the summit of the world-famous Table Mountain, which forms its spectacular backdrop. With the Winelands situated just a short drive away, it is feasible to make several wine-themed day trips over the course of your break.
Alternatively, you could choose a multicentre holiday and spend a few days in several different destinations. Those keen to see as much of the region as possible, meanwhile, might find a tour better suits their needs. There are some excellent itineraries that take in the Winelands; for example, you could begin by exploring Cape Town, before spending a few days discovering the vineyards, and eventually making your way up to Livingstone, where you can round off your tour with an unforgettable visit to Victoria Falls.