When you’re tired of the famous beaches of Cape Town – or if they get too crowded – when you have gone up “The Mountain,” and the V and A is packed too tightly for comfort, when your mother-in-law is getting too close for comfort, or when the kids are bored out of their teensy weensy little skulls, here are some fabulous things to take your mind off things and relax. Most of them need you to leave town (isn’t that what you wanted to do anyway?) but once there you will see a whole new side to having a holiday.
Evita Se Perron, Darling
Before Evita Bezuidenhout came to town, the most exciting thing to happen in Darling was the annual burst of colour as the wild flowers fluffed up in spring. After they had disappeared the sleepy little place retreated just like Brigadoon in that old MGM movie. Today, of course, things are totally different even though the town has retained its small town cram – in spades. The social center of everything is Evita’s place – the old Darling station. A visit here will fascinate with its quirky way of looking at things through rose coloured glasses. Evita herself can be seen on certain days and the boerekos to be had at the restaurant is delicious. Local wines are available but the pièce de résistance will be a walk through Boerassic Park, a nod to a scary past.
+27 (0) 22 492 2831
Glenelly Glass Museum, Stellenbosch
This is a must-see experience and, not only that, this famous place has an outstanding restaurant, great views and fabulous wines. What’s not to like? The museum is packed with exquisite objects collected from all over the world by the owner of Glenelly, Madam May de Lencquesaing, a national treasure both here and in France.
+27 (0) 21 809 6440
Groote Post Game Drives, Darling Hills
Way up the West Coast, Darling way, you will find 2 000 hectares of land on which some great wine grapes are planted, but you might be interested in going on a game drive over some rough terrain. The farm’s conservation efforts have made things a pleasure for the animals there and you will be able to see a wide array of them – some six species of buck, including black wildebeest, quaggas, springboks and ostriches. When you have done that, you can eat some great food at their historic restaurant, Hilda’s Kitchen, and taste some of their superb wines made by winemaker Lukas Wentzel.
+27 (0) 22 492 2825
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Pesto and Wine Pairings at Neil Ellis, Stellenbosch
When you are wine tasting (one of the best things to do while in the Cape) there is no doubt that a little bit of something delicious goes a long way. Those clever people at Neil Ellis in Stellenbosch have come up with four different pestos and paired them with four different wines served with delicious pita bread, a novel idea indeed that’s bound to be popular. Dress your pita with a healthy smattering of chickpea curry, beetroot and almond, mint and pecan, and kale and cashew. The carefully chosen wines are Amica Sauvignon Blanc, Whitehall Chardonnay, Jonkershoek Cabernet Sauvignon and Bottelary Hills Pinotage, all from the very best the company has to offer.
+ (0) 21 887 0649 to book
The Lawns at The Roundhouse, Camps Bay
One of Cape Town’s best kept secrets has undergone a major overhaul just in time for the holiday season. Situated at the historic Roundhouse, the setting is spectacular. Imagine a forest that slopes down to the sea on the slopes of Table Mountain, heavily secluded and very sheltered even when the South Easter decides to really blow things all over the place. Tranquil and looking down at some of the best scenery in the country across to the Twelve Apostles, this is a must-visit this time of the year. Not only that but the food there is great, and at prices that will not rip your heart out. Breakfasts can be fun helped along with a Bloody Mary or glass of bubbly to help you loosen up for the day. Lunch brings out things like superb Caesar Sold, very good burgers, rib eye steaks and pizzas. Linger on till sunset and have sundowners as another perfect day ends. The kitchen close at 8pm. Parking can be tricky so Ubering is a great idea.
+27 (0) 21 438 4347
Fizz & Fudge at Stellenbosch Hills, Vlottenburg
I am told by friends of mine that the next two on this list are “absolute musts” if you want to see wine in a different light. I am very happy enjoying my favourite glass without any fanfare, but their rave reviews makes me think there’s something to all this hype. The first one is Stellenbosch Hills bubbly matched with Basilei’s famous fudge. The wines – both carbonated fizzy pleasures – are Polkadraai Sauvignon Blanc Brut 2018 with chocolate malt fudge, and the Pinot Noir Rosé with traditional butter fudge. They say the unctuous pleasure of the fudge is matched by the zingy tartness of the bubbles and this brings out the best in both offerings. Try it if you like – I will take their word for it.
+27 (0) 21 881 3828
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Wine and Macaron Experience at Idiom, Somerset West
This matching is available Thursdays to Saturdays till the end of February at this magnificently situated place in the mountains overlooking False Bay. The macarons are made on site by their pastry chef. The tastings go from light to dark in intensity starting with an imported prosecco called Romeo and Juliet from the Veneto region in Italy which is matched with a flower decorated chamomile macaron. The next is Idiom’s Imperium White Gold, Natural Sweet Viognier, matched with a lemon macaron brushed with gold dust and the tasting finishes with Idiom Imperium Black Gold, Hailstorm Merlot, an intense raisiny knockout which is paired with a blueberry and chocolate ganache macaron beautifully decorated. This works very well as the wines are very intense dessert style ones.
+27 (0) 21 858 1088
Chicnics at Allée Bleue, Franschhoek
What a perfect setting – wide open skies, the gorgeous Drakenstein Mountains, plenty of trees for shade, and, to crown it all, somewhere for the kids to play while we tuck into a delicious basket of goodies. Of course the fabulous wines of the estate are an added bonus – the kids can have fruit juice, while we will have ours fermented thank you very much. In the basket is a roasted beef wrap, with herbs from their famous garden, a selection of local cheeses and cold meats, homemade mayonnaise, freshly baked breads and butter and yoghurt balls. Dessert will be a lemon posset, with chocolate mint cookie crumble tart. The baskets are made up for two and there is a special kiddies’ version available.
Wine and Fynbos Cupcakes at Delheim, Stellenbosch
Delheim has always been a major player when it comes to taking care of the planet. Their biodiversity efforts have resulted in their conserving more than 120 species of plants and animals that probably would not have survived. Not only that, it is a delightful place to visit, steeped in character with a good restaurant and delicious wines. To celebrate they are presenting a wine and fynbos cupcake pairing which, though it sounds unusual, works perfectly. Try the honeybush cupcake with plain icing paired with their Chardonnay Sur Lie, the buchu cupcake with lemon and cream cheese icing with their famous Gewürztraminer, the fynbos honey cupcake is topped with locally-produced Cape coast honey and is paired with Delheim’s Merlot, or the rooibos cupcake iced with cream cheese and cinnamon which goes perfectly with the Pinotage. But don’t take my word for it, get there yourself.
+27 (0) 21 888 4600
Want to continue your wine tasting experience of the Cape? Then take a look at our list of where to go wine tasting in Constantia.
As the wine writer for Country Life magazine for the last 15 years, Greg has met and interviewed more than 150 of the country’s top wine makers. His articles offer unique insights into where to eat, what to drink, and where to go all over the Western Cape. With his dining companion Beryl Ormsby Browne, he has also reviewed more than 60 country restaurants for the magazine and has been a reviewer for the prestigious Eat Out Guide for 12 years. His passion for everything the winelands has to offer has led him into the world of wine tours. To find out more, visit his website Magic Grape Tours.