At the heart of South Africa’s centuries-old winelands, the bustling town of Stellenbosch is a balance of traditional European charm and modern Africa. Founded in 1679 and located 30 miles east of Cape Town, it is also home to the country’s only viticulture and enology program (at Stellenbosch University). Rambles in the town will inevitably bring you up-close and personal with the present and future trendmakers in the South African wine scene.
Many of the region’s wineries offer atmospheric stays in some of the world’s most dramatic settings, and within close proximity to the town itself. The Devon Valley Hotel (Devon Valley Road) is a cedar-shingled landmark set among the vineyards of the Sylvanvale estate, with stunning views of the Helderberg Mountains. Kleine Zalze Lodge (R44 Strand Road) is a 47-room luxury lodge set on the De Zalze Golf Course, surrounded by 300 acres of vineyards. Privacy is the focus at the five-star Majeka House (26-32 Houtkapper Street) where a sparkling pool, private terraces and a gourmet restaurant showcasing regional products and wines are ideal for post-tasting downtime.
Originally dubbed the “city of oaks” due to the large number oak trees planted by its founder, Simon van der Stel, Stellenbosch town still offers shady respite from the South African sun. Many original 17th-century Cape Dutch structures remain. Stellenbosch Village Museum (Erfurthuis Ryneveldstreet 37) is a collection of historic houses not to be missed and the town is lined with eclectic shops and galleries selling traditional tribal art, biltong and leather goods. The Stellenryck Wine Museum (Dorp Street) and Van Ryn Brandy Centre (Van Ryn Road) highlight winemaking and distilling in the country through the centuries, while ongoing outdoor concerts accompanied by a prepacked gourmet picnic lunch at Oude Libertas Amphitheatre (Libertas Road and Adam Tas Road) are an excellent way to experience world-class talent and South African outdoor culture in one outing.
WINE & FOOD
Many of South Africa’s premium wineries are located in the Stellenbosch region, so either plan a targeted tasting strategy or commit to several days of wine touring here. Tokara, Warwick Wine Estate, Vilafonte, Vergelegen, Kanonkop and Ken Forrester are just a few of the storied properties worth a visit, and all offer unbelievably picturesque settings. When you’re ready to eat (and eating is a serious South African pastime), pair local food-friendly wines with seasonal South African fare like ostrich fillet and west coast mussels at 96 Winery Road (Winery Road, Zandberg Farm), a buzzy, popular winemaker hangout. At Wijnhuis (corner of Church & Andringa Streets) pair simple, fresh Mediterranean dishes with a selection from the eatery’s eclectic list of more than 50 mainly local pours. Jordan Restaurant on the Jordan Wine Estate (Stellenbosch Kloof Road, Vlottenburg) changes its celebrated menu daily. Make sure to check out its cheese room for rare South African selections. Finally, the locally-sourced, award-winning menu at Terroir (Strand Road (R44)) is focused on unique, seasonal ingredients and offers a broad wine list with the best of South Africa and beyond. Make sure to check out the desserts…you won’t forget them.
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