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Top 10 Wine Farms in Stellenbosch

1.    Meerlust

Well-known for generating top-class wine selections, Meerlust Wine Estate was proudly established by the Myburgh family in 1756. Presently, the fine art of winemaking takes place under the guidance of expert Hannes Myburgh – eighth generation custodian of this 17th century national monument. With its historic manor house, classic wine cellar, dovecote and bird sanctuary, Meerlust is located 15 kilometres south of Stellenbosch, with the blue crescent of False Bay just 5 kilometres away. At Meerlust, wines are only made with grapes grown on the Estate, which is specifically situated for the production of wines with remarkable complexity and character.

During the summer months, sea breezes and dusk mists roll in from the shore to cool the vineyards. The grapes steadily ripen, allowing them to attain full, concentrated varietal flavours. The soils are made up mostly of predominantly deep, well-drained Hutton and Clovelly soil types, giving the vines superb drought resistance and a perfect substratum for creating concentrated, complex wines.


2.    Thelema

Once a charismatic but rundown fruit farm, Gyles Webb acquired Thelema in 1983. Fruit orchards were unearthed and vines were planted. The manor house was soon refurbished, and the very first wines under the label of ‘Thelema’ were released in 1988. The ripe, pure-fruited wines offered something very new and different, and before long the farm had built up a sturdy and reputable reputation as an excellent avant-garde winery. By the middle of the 1990s, Thelema’s wines sold out within just months after initial release, making it one of the most desirable and sought-after wine estates in the whole of South Africa. The estate itself is a place of picturesque beauty, with great old oak trees, exquisite mountain vistas, and vibrantly coloured peacocks. Set at the top of the Helshooogte Pass with elevations that range between 370 and 640 metres above sea level, and mostly south-facing escarpments, it is also one of the tallest and coolest estates in the region. The high altitude and the deep red soils are perfect for top-quality wine grape production.

No grapes are bought in, and all wines at Thelema are bottled on the estate in order to keep control over every element of the wine-making process. The terrior, in combination with Gyles Webb’s wine production style result in flavourful, colourful, complex and long-lasting wines with a characteristic South African charm. In the year 2000, Gyles made the transition into the role of cellar master, and handed over his win-making duties to the skilled Rudi Shultz – one of the renowned Schultz wine-making brothers).


3.    Rustenberg

In the early 1800s Rustenberg was split by owner Jacob Eksteen, and a portion was handed to his son-in-law who then named it ‘Schoongezicht’ and soon put it up for sale. Both estates hit their peak in around 1812, with stunning homesteads and prosperous vineyards. But, by the middle of the century, recession and disease in the vines resulted in bankruptcy and dispossession. In 1892, Schoongezicht was rescued by John X Merriman (future Prime Minister of the Cape), and Rustenberg by his brother-in-law, Sir Jacob Barry. Together, the pair refurbished the farms, and soon fruit was being sent to Covent Garden, new vines were being grafted onto disease-resistant American rootstock, and wines were being exported overseas.

Peter and Pamela Barlow acquired Rustenberg In 1941, and later bought out Schoongezicht, essentially reuniting the properties. The couple’s son, Simon, took over farm operations of the farm in 1987, and the Barlow’s have since resided at Rustenberg for more than sixty years (the longest period any family member has held ownership of the farm).

A variety of slopes and aspects allow for site-specific plantings that improve varietal characteristics. The devoted vineyard team has been hard at work revitalising the vineyards by planting virus-free vines imported from France. At Rustenberg, all grapes are hand-harvested in the early mornings and all vineyard blocks vinified independently, then combined for added complexity. There is no standard formula for the wine-making here; the blend depends on the vintage. Even portions within a vineyard are supervised according to the acid/pH levels, natural sugar levels, and grape flavours, which are typically picked over a two-week period in order to enhance ripeness and quality.


4.    Alluvia Specialist Winery Stellenbosch

Alluvia’s award-winning wine estate and luxury accommodation offers an incredible combination that is often described simply as ‘the vineyard lifestyle’. Alluvia captures the entire spirit of wine, with small fruitful alluvial deposits of Table Mountain Sandstone and Granite that make for an ideal platform on which to generate top-quality wines with distinctive flavour and character. At Alluvia, boundaries of traditional wine production styles and methods are constantly challenged, leading to the estate being awarded top honours at the Decanter World wine awards for its ‘ilka’ Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as at the International Wine & Spirits awards, and various other accolades. Even before its maiden release, the estate’s Cabernet Franc was nominated by Wine Magazine as ‘top Cabernet Franc in South Africa’.



5.    Bergkelder

The Bergkelder was constructed in 1968 into the Papegaaiberg, from which it got its name. The cellar was the very first mountain cellar in the country, and was named after the yearly clay pigeon shoot which was held in order to honour the birthday of Governor Simon van der Stel in the late 1700s. Now, the estate rests comfortably on the escarpments of the Papegaaiberg, on the edges of the historic old town of Stellenbosch; a renowned landmark in the winelands. The estate is currently home to some of the Cape’s most excellent wine varieties, and has thoroughly distinguished itself as a crucial innovator of the wine industry.

In the 1970s  Bergkelder played an important role in persuading South Africa’s production of top-quality wines by encouraging grape-growers to introduce the classic noble selections to their vineyards – these included Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet French, and Merlot. The estate took the lead in 1979 by introducing maturation of world class wine in small casks of new French oak, and in 1998 The Bergkelder released its distinctive assortment of Fleur du Cap unfiltered red wines. These were produced with the particular goal of retaining the absolute flavours and varietal character of the grapes.


6.    Vergelegen

Meaning ‘situated far away’, Vergelegen has been shaped by some of the finest explorers and visionaries of the world since the 1700s who, each in their own manner, have helped in crafting Vergelegen into what it is today: a top-quality world-class wine Estate. With its world famous handcrafted wines, rich history spanning more than 300 years, vibrant heritage, spectacular gardens, and sophisticated cuisine, it comes as no surprise that the estate is still the first choice of plenty of travellers seeking out a complete sensory experience. Because of this, various heads of state and celebrities from around the globe have made a point to visit Vergelegen. The estate allows for guests to spend relaxing quality time, with family or friends, or even Business associates. The wine tasting centre and cellar tours are exquisite, along with the fantastic food served at Camphors at Vergelegen Restaurant. Stables at Vergelegen Bistro Restaurant offers guests even more of a food selection, and picnics are welcomed in the lush gardens.


7.    Jordan Wine Estate

Husband and wife team, Gary and Kathy Jordan, have been creating top-class wines since 1993 on a farm boasting a history that dates back to more than 300 years ago. Gary is a geologist, Kathy an economist, and together they make a powerful duo. Gary’s parents, Ted and Sheelagh, acquired the 146 hectare Stellenbosch estate in 1982 and began a comprehensive replanting programme specialising in classic assortments suited to the different soils and slopes. From the Jordan hillside vineyards, exquisite 180 degree views of the iconic Table Mountain, stunning False Bay, and lush Stellenbosch are offered. Gary and Kathy worked overseas for two years, crafting their expert instincts and practical experience, and moved back home to begin the construction of a cellar in 1992.
The next year, vines were ready for wine production that would soon carry the Jordan name, and from then on the estate established itself as a front runner in the winemaking industry. Constant success has given the team a fantastic reputation, with focus placed on creating vibrant individual wines that blend the fruity accessibility of the New World with the classic sophistication of the old.


8.    Beyerskloof

One of the Cape’s most prominent winemakers of 1988 was Beyers Truter of Kanonkop Estate, who created a partnership with four passionate wine enthusiasts in Johannesburg with one goal in mind: to create a wine of remarkable character. After exploring the Cape Winelands for the ideal location, the group found a perfectly placed farm in the Koelenhof region within the Stellenbosch Wine of Origin area. The farm’s initial name was Nooitgedacht, which, for five generations was under the ownership of the Beyers family prior to Jan Andries Beyers selling the estate in 1895. Beyers Truter is a direct descendent of Jan Beyers, making him officially the sixth generation to farm this land.

The Beyerskloof philosophy is to provide an authentic expression of remarkable talents in order to offer an unforgettable first-class wine experience that makes the estate a premier winery of South Africa. The Red Leaf restaurant at Beyerskloof Wine estate provides one of the most exquisite culinary experiences in Stellenbosch. Here, guests can relax in peace and serenity, admiring the expansive vistas of undulating Boland vineyards whilst enjoying superb food and top-quality wines.


9.    Neethlingshof

Set in the beautiful heart of the Stellenbosch Winelands, Neethlingshof Wine Estate is flanked by the Bottelary Hills and Papegaaisberg Mountains. Along with the remarkable manor house, the estate is drenched in history dating back to 1705 and is characterised by the stunning avenue of stone pines. The renowned kilometre-long avenue leads to the gabled homestead and is the most distinctive feature of the estate, even appearing as the central motif of the estate’s wine labels.

Combining the everlasting beauty of the past with a contemporary and highly functional layout, the Neethlingshof Wine Estate is situated in an area of relaxation, allowing the appreciation of the expansive assortment of estate wines. The elegant Lord Neethling restaurant is named after one of the farm’s previous owners, and is situated in a wonderfully preserved Cape Dutch homestead dating back about 200 years. Here, you can unwind whilst enjoying a menu of classic Continental cuisine paired with excellent wines.



10.    Annandale

Annandale is the oldest farm in the entire Helderberg Valley, with a history tracing back to the founding of South Africa itself. Gerhard (Hempies) du Toit is a fifth generation South African Huguenot winemaker who continually contributes to South Africa’s wine production future. Du Toit carried his family tradition of viticulture and oenology, having been raised on the Alto Estate, one of South Africa’s oldest vineyards with history that dates back more than 300 years. Annandale is located on the escarpments of the Helderberg Mountains in Stellenbosch and boasts a gentle river that runs through the estate, which is flanked by trees that were planted in the late 1600s.
Nestled in a valley in the heart of the ‘Golden Triangle’ of South Africa’s premier wine country, Annandale offers remarkable 180 degree views that reach to Table Mountain and Lion’s Peak in Cape Town, and beyond to False Bay, as well as exquisite vistas of the Atlantic Sea.



Wine Tasting in Stellenbosch

The ‘Nuts about Wine’ tasting offered at Stellenbosch Hills Wine Estate will help pair the right nutty protein of your choosing with a wine that will complement the flavour fabulously. Intricate wines from a wide range of soil, climate and viticulture are mixed into bottles by PG Slabbert – cellar master. This tasting has a reputation for fantastic quality and produces exquisite South African wines.

Kanu Private Cellar and Vineyards always makes for a fantastic outing in Stellenbosch. In 2003, Richard Kershaw joined the team as cellar master, helping the estate in continuing the production of their award-winning Chenin Blanc. Wine connoisseurs will adore the Kanu Limited Release label.  The hospitable host, Kobus Kanu, will happily welcome you and will be at your side for suggestions in the tasting room. He enhances this experience greatly and adds to the wonderful atmosphere. When the cold winter afternoons roll round, pick a spot on the couch corner near the warm, crackling fire. The tasting room is very relaxed, and will make you want to come back for more. The Kanu Semi-sweet white offers a good weight and a dry finish. It has peach aromas and is pared extremely well with homemade apple pie, spiced lamb, or slices of meat terrine with chutney.

Cape Discovery Tours can lead you on a full day of fantastic wine tasting, all the while exploring the gorgeous surrounding landscapes. The entire day is spent tasting excellent wines whilst taking in the stunning scenery. Tours usually begin with a cellar visit, after which guests pay visits to a range of wine estates, making stops at some of the scenic villages en route. Lunch is typically at one of the magnificent wineries on the way.

Lanzerac Wines has been around for hundreds of years with a reputation of pure luxury, quality and prestige. Deep inside the Jonkershoek valley lies the Lanzerac vineyards. In the traditional French manner of combining a country hotel and wine estate, Lanzerac renovated its homestead into a luxury manor in 1958. The building itself has spectacular Cape Dutch Architecture. The estate covers 155 hectares, and the wines produced here are locally and internationally renowned.

Take a trip with Wine flies

Soaking up wine and its culture – that is the slogan of Wine Flies Tours with the promise of a unique and real experience for all who are joining this different kind of wine tour. Wine Flies is focusing on more authentic presentations of the South African wine culture and allows their visitors to get to meet the winemakers, share experiences with them and explore the true culture of living in one of the most renowned wine regions of the world.

They will take you to hidden estates, which are often only known to locals, as well as to world famous wineries. While you experience the taste of different kinds of wine, you will also learn a lot from how to drink wine properly and learn about the process of wine making.
On this tour a minibus will take you to five wine estates, which all have something different to offer. Some wine tastings are combined with cheese tasting, while others give you the chance to pair wine with chocolate. You will also have your lunch in the middle of the wine lands – while enjoying another wine tasting. A cellar and a vineyard walking tour are also included in the daytrip where you will learn a lot about the winemaking process.

This wine tour promises an entertaining, informative and surprising daytrip in a very informal style. Although there are some light-hearted rules everyone has to stick to which are: “We leave no one or no wine behind; everyone has to sit somewhere new after getting back in the bus, and no politics, religion or sex before lunch.”

The “behind the scenes” Wine Flies tour is running 7 days a week at a price of R650 per person. This includes all tastings, lunch, the transportation from your accommodation to the wine estates and back, and an unforgettable and unique experience.

For any other information you can contact Wine Flies Tours, at + 27 (0) 21 4232 444, e-mail info@wineflies.co.za or visit their website.

About Amy Saville

Article by: Amy Saville
on April 21, 2015
Filed under  Africa Blog • South Africa • Travel Articles 
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