Just an hour’s drive inland from Cape Town, at the heart of the Cape Winelands you will find South Africa’s so-called Golden Triangle; Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl. In the shadow of a continuous belt of Cape fold mountains, lies a series of generous valleys known as the Cape Winelands – a collection of historic towns, little hamlets and Cape Dutch farmsteads that provide well-regarded South African wines to the world. A great deal of the allure of the winelands is owed to the spectacular natural setting. These mountains create an incredible scenic backdrop, but they are also one of the reasons wines do so well here. Their geological compositions provide unique soil conditions that directly affect the character of wine.
The Franschhoek Wine Route is characterized by an inherent French flair. The town itself is rich with Huguenot history. Franschhoek (or “French Corner”) is named for the French Huguenots who settled here in the 18th century. Blessed with perhaps the most perfect setting of any winelands town, it is also South Africa’s unofficial food and wine gastronomic capital, offering a world-class gourmet experience. The ideal place to settle in for an alfresco lunch.
Paarl (Afrikaans for “pearl”) is named for the polished granite domed mountain that rises behind it. Founded in 1720, Paarl feels rather unattractive by Boland standards, but its wine route includes some of the finest vineyards and several first-class restaurants. The Paarl Wine Route is also called the ‘Red Route’ for its legendary red wines. Cabernet Sauvignon, port and Shiraz wines have established Paarl’s place on the global wine map and the region has repeatedly received international awards for these wines. Nothing complements a good glass of wine quite like a good cheese. This delectable culinary tradition has extended to the Boland as well, and some of South Africa’s finest cheeses are produced in this region. It is here where you’ll find wine farms like Fairview, popular for its cheese and wine pairing and Spice Route known for its much-loved chocolate, gin, beer, wine, and ice cream tastings – and good food.
The Stellenbosch Wine Route is South Africa’s oldest wine route. This architectural jewel is the second-oldest town in South Africa, and lies at the heart of the winelands. Stellenbosch was founded in 1679 by the Dutch Governor Simon van der Stel. Some of South Africa’s finest wines are cultivated in this scenic region. South Africa’s high-quality olive oils have started making waves in the international circuit, often beating out heavyweights like Italy, Spain and Greece. The Boland’s Mediterranean-like climate provides ideal conditions for groves to flourish.