Want to experience some of the best wine estates Cape Town has to offer? Then Durbanville wine route is a not-to-miss place in Cape Town. The area between Durbanville and Bloubergstrand is often called “Sauvignon Blanc Country”. Located just 30 kilometers from the city center Durbanville is a good alternative to the wine farms of Constantia for wine tasting. The residential suburb on the northern outskirts of Cape Town is surrounded by beautiful wine farms. The wonderful estates in the rolling hills of this hilly wine-producing area can be visited as a day trip from Cape Town.
Amazing views of Table Mountain is one of the highlights on the Durbanville wine route
The Durbanville wine farms offer some of the best views of Table Mountain available, an excellent backdrop for tasting some top quality wines. Located in the heart of wine country with vineyards planted as early as 1702 Durbanville is one of the oldest wine-producing areas in the country. The location results in a cooler climate and yielding a very different style of wine made on the Durbanville wine farms than on the famous neighboring wine farms of Stellenbosch with its hot climate and resulting wines. In this article we look at how to go wine tasting around Durbanville; the fantastic wine farms, specific wines, some great food pairings, excellent estate restaurants, and some awesome activities not to miss.
Wine tasting Durbanville – how does it work?
The wine farms on the Durbanville wine route that offer wine tasting all have a dedicated tasting room with well trained staff to tell you about the wines and assist you with the tasting. The average price of tasting ranged from R50- R90 per farm and generally includes tasting of 5 wines per farm. We found the tastings here cost a bit more than on some other wine routes, but includes more wines. This is an important fact to consider when planning your route, if you self drive I will recommend not more than 3 farms on a day.
Many tasting venues are beautiful with fantastic views of the Durbanville Wine Valley, False Bay, or Table Mountain. There are some great restaurants located on some of the wine farms offering a variety of awesome food experiences, so stopping for lunch is a great idea. We love food-wine pairings and there are some unique offerings by some of the Durbanville wine farms. You can combine a visit to the wine farms with a trip to Namaqualand during the flower season.
The rolling hills of the Durbanville Wine Valley.
Tips for tasting in the Durbanville Wine Valley
- Tasting venues get very busy on weekends and public holidays, I prefer to go in the week.
- The water in the area is brackish, some farms offer mineral water for sale, you can buy water, drink brackish water or bring you own.
- Share a tasting, if you just want to taste the wines I found one tasting is plenty for two people and buy a bottle of your favorite to take home.
- Book your tasting if you are a group, go tasting on a weekend or holiday or if you have a specific request.
- Try some of the food pairings, there are some interesting food pairings on different farms that bring out unique characteristics from these excellent wines.
- Explore the estate restaurants, most of the farms have fantastic restaurants with amazing views and top quality food.
- Bring the kids, some of the farms cater for the whole family with massive lawns, big playgrounds, cycling routes and great pizzas.
The Wines of Durbanville
Wine tasting in Cape Winelands is definitely one of the main things to do in Cape Town. Out of several wine areas, Durbanville is famous for excellent Sauvignon Blanc, Bordeaux blends, and Pinotage wines made from grapes grown in this cooler region.
Sauvignon Blanc is definitely the cultivar to focus on in the area and there is even a yearly Sauvignon Blanc festival to celebrate the fantastic Sauvignon Blanc wines made here. The terroir is perfect for growing this amazing white grape; cool south easter wind in summer time, clay soil and off course innovative wine makers together produce distinctive Sauvignon Blanc wines with aromas of green fig, tropical aromas of grenadilla, guava and mango, and some grassy, herbaceous, vegetative characters.
If you want to taste something truly South African Durbanville is a must-include in your Cape Town itinerary. The Durbanville wine route is a great place to taste Pinotage, another signature cultivar in the area. This uniquely South African grape variety was created in Stellenbosch in 1925 by Prof Abraham Perold, the first Professor of Viticulture at Stellenbosch University. Prof Perold made Pinotage by crossing two grape varieties, Hermitage (now called Cinsaut) and Pinot noir. The aim was to create a great wine-producing grape like Pinot Noir that grows as well as the robust variety Cinsaut. The cool winds and clay soils of the valley lead to the production of unique cool climate Pinotage wines in a different style than the Stellenbosch area.
A Bordeaux blend is a red wine mainly composed of the classic Bordeaux varieties Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc, with smaller portions of Malbec and Petit Verdot. The area is known to produce some excellent red wines and some award winning Bordeaux’s are often delivered by the Durbanville wine valley.
I noticed a couple of estates on the Durbanville wine route producing Pinot Noir wines. The French region Burgundy is probably the best-known region for this cultivar in the world. This fickle, thin-skinned grape is not widely grown in South Africa. The Hemel and Aarde Valley around Hermanus are best known for producing excellent Pinot Noir wines. If you visit the valley between August and October you can combine wine-tasting with whale watching in Hermanus.
Several Cap Classique winemakers throughout the Cape use Pinot Noir. The cooler region here is well suited for producing Pinot’s and the wines we tasted were nice with lots of red fruit flavors.
Excellent cool-climate examples of Chardonnay, Shiraz and Merlot are also produced on the farms in the Durbanville wine valley.
If you enjoy fruity Chennin Blanc wines I will recommend you visit the Breedekloof Wine Route, the farms on this off the beaten track wine route produces amazing Chennins. The scenery in the Du Toitskloof mountains is fantastic and on these less touristy estates, you can still meet the winemaker and have a more intimate experience.
Durbanville Wine Farms
1. Durbanville Hills
The award winning Durbanville Hills is probably the best known winery on the Durbanville wine route, located only about 20 minutes drive from Cape Town’s city center. The modern tasting room with spectacular views of Table Mountain and Table Bay is very popular offering about 100 000 tasting per year.
Seven prominent grape growers in the Durbanville district teamed up with Distell to build the Durbanville Hills cellar and make their own wines; today they are nine partners. Some of these farms started producing grapes in the early 1700’s, but the first vintage of wine produced in Durbanville Hills was in 1999.
Wine Tasting at Durbanville Hills
The modern tasting room has fantastic views of Table Mountain, Table Bay, Robben Island and Cape Town. On a nice day tasting wine outside is great observing the vineyards of the Durbanville wine valley and the ocean. In winter the fireplace inside makes it very cosy. The impressive tasting room has floor-to-ceiling glass for viewing the cellar. The large venue incorporates the wine tasting area, restaurant, meeting rooms and a shop, with large windows and a balcony.
There are many styles of tasting on offer here, including a variety of food wine pairings.
The Crystal Tasting is the straight forward tasting including 5 wines and a wine glass to take home.
For something special do the Collectors Reserve tasting – A private cellar tour, including a food pairing with all seven Collectors Reserve wines and a bottle of Collectors Reserve wine to take home. This tasting takes about 2 hours and needs to be booked ahead. Available from Monday to Friday between 12:00 and 15:00
Award winning wines to taste – Durbanville Hills Collectors Reserve Cableway Chardonnay 2018, Durbanville Hills Collectors Reserve Cape Mist Sauvignon Blanc 2019, Durbanville Hills Caapmans Cabernet Merlot 2006
Durbanville Hills Wine Pairings
The Chocolate Wine Pairing – A chocolatier from Knysna created artisan chocolates specifically to complement the aroma, flavor and overall mouthfeel of specific wines. This chocolate wine pairing is a selection of five wines with five artisan chocolates. Other popular pairings here is the cheese and wine or biltong and dried fruit pairing.
The Cheese pairing combines full-bodied wines with strong and flavorful cheeses, this tasting includes a selection of five wines with five cheeses. The Biltong pairing is a very uniquely South African food experience. Biltong is a type of cured meat from different origins, usually beef or game. This tasting pairs dried fruits and biltong with well suited wines.
Activities at Durbanville Hills
Table Mountain Wine Safari – During this wine tasting tour you are taken in a safari vehicle on some winding routes around table mountain on lesser driven roads closed to the public to some special spots for great views of the ocean, mountains and Cape Town area tasting wines with a selection of snacks on the route.
Cellar Tour – a tour of the cellar is available including a Crystal tasting – book 24h ahead
For children Durbanville Hills has an outdoor kids play area, with a jungle gym and big lawn to run around and play while you enjoy your tasting.
Restaurant at Durbanville Hills
The award winning Durbanville Hills Winery Restaurant is known as Tangram (the name of a flagship wine made here). Fine dining with spectacular views of Cape Town showing off at sunset. The restaurant is headed up by chef Tamzyn Ehlers and has received awards such as Best Gourmet Cuisine in Africa and Best South African Cuisine on a Global Level. The contemporary setting offers beautiful panoramic views of Table Mountain, Table Bay and the vineyards of the Durbanville wine valley. Book ahead.
2. Klein Roosboom
For a unique wine tasting experience on the Durbanville wine route don’t miss Klein Roosboom Wine Farm. The boutique winery describes itself as ‘Cape Town’s best kept secret’, I am not going to argue with them. It is difficult to stand out on this wine route; blessed with excellent terroir, many farms producing phenomenal wines, plenty of great views of Table mountain and many high quality restaurants. The wine tasting in old cement fermentation tanks turned into private little tasting rooms, beautifully decorated is a truly special experience at this wine farm. They extend the unique experience to Jéan Restaurant where you can have a table set inside the vineyards of Klein Roosboom.
Wine tasting at Klein Roosboom
I really enjoyed the wines made by Karin De Villiers, winemaker and owner at Klein Roosboom winery. Most of the wines were named after a family member with letters written to that specific person as back labels, take some time to read them, it is really nice. You have three tasting options; a white wine tasting with 3 wines, red wine tasting 3 wines or a ‘Best of both worlds’ tasting with 6 wines. If you want something to nibble on there are some nice platters available; a ‘plaas plankie’ spring tasting plate or double cheese platter. You can also order a picnic basket for 2 packed with goodies to enjoy somewhere on this beautiful estate.
The wines at Klein Roosboom are great, but the star of the tasting was the experience of the private tasting in the old fermentation tank uniquely decorated. Each room is an old concrete wine vat converted into a stunning little tasting room. You can still experience the wine and see and feel old wine crystallization on the walls.
Every room is uniquely decorated with a different theme. Other than the wine tank rooms there are tables inside and outside for tasting. The tasting was well presented by the friendly, knowledgeable staff. It gets busy on weekends and in season, so if you want a cosy private wine tasting room at these times book your Klein Roosboom wine tasting ahead.
Award winning wines to taste – Klein Roosboom Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2019
The location and style of this glass building in the vineyards of Klein Roosboom is stunning. Named after Karin’s late husband, the décor is imaginative and relaxed, reviews of Chef Lorianne Heyns and her team’s dishes and creativity are fantastic. The restaurant focuses on local, farm-fresh and organic produce. There are some tables and umbrellas in the vineyard which would be a great experience to sit and enjoy a glass of wine or food from the restaurant.
Things to do at Klein Roosboom Winery
Go on a Party Bike Adventure – the bike is actually a 12 seat car with a combination of pedal power and an electric motor. Cruising through the vineyard for 2 hours you can take a snack box or some wine and there will be several tasting points on the cruise.
3. De Grendel
When it comes to amazing views of Table Mountain, seeing our favorite mountain behind the vineyards of the Durbanville wine valley from the wine farm De Grendel was our number one choice. This beautiful venue is still a real farm, driving to the tasting room you pass cattle grazing on flower strewn meadows. De Grendel is blessed with sea views, cool ocean breezes and misty nights; perfect conditions for producing top quality Sauvignon Blanc wines. The farm was bought by businessman and politician Sir David De Villiers Graaff in 1890, Grape vines were grown for the first time on this breathtaking wine farm in 1800, its award winning wine making history however starts fairly recent when a later generation Sir David Graaff planted vines on De Grendel in 1999.
Wine Tasting at De Grendel
Wine Tasting at De Grendel Wine Estate is a great experience. The relaxed, but upmarket ambiance and friendly, knowledgeable staff creates a great atmosphere for wine tasting. The wines are fantastic. De Grendel has two tasting areas, a beautiful tasting room with big windows, as well as a lovely deck, both offer amazing views of Table mountain. There are two tasting options; the Premium Tasting and the Flagship Tasting.
De Grendel has a delicious Gourmet Snack Selection prepared by Chef Ian Bergh available if you have a gap to fill during the tasting.
Award winning wines to taste – De Grendel Op die Berg Chardonnay 2018, De Grendel Koetshuis Sauvignon Blanc 2019, De Grendel Op die Berg Pinot Noir 2017, De Grendel Rubaiyat 2016 (Red Blend)
De Grendel Restaurant
The De Grendel restaurant is a highly rated fine dining restaurant. The interior of the restaurant is beautiful offering stunning views through large windows, chef Ian Bergh is visible from behind the glass in his kitchen. Dishes are all designed to compliment wines of their excellent range and are prepared from locally sourced ingredients. The menu changes often based on the availability of the local farm sourced ingredients.
For lunch, choose from the two- or three-course options, with optional wine pairings.
Meerendal is one of only a few wine farms in South Africa that can claim it has been bottling wine under the current name of the estate for more than 50 years. The farm is more than 300 years old and the first grape vines were planted here in 1714. Until 1969 all the wine however went into nameless barrels at the KWV cooperative cellar. In 1969 a Shiraz and Pinotage was bottled under the Meerland brand. Meerendal was one of the first farms to plant Pinotage and today they produce Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinotage, Shiraz, Merlot, and Pinot Noir grapes and wines.
There is a lot of history on this beautiful wine estate on the Durbanville wine route. The stunning Cape Dutch homestead on the estate is a famous picture of Meerendal. This exquisite building has been converted into a luxury boutique hotel surrounded by vineyards.
There is plenty to do at Meerendal estate, it features two restaurants, a wine tasting room, some excellent mountain biking, and trail running trails and even a wine academy!
Wine Tasting at Meerendal
Meerendal has a small tasting room, with some tasting tables and a bar area. The tasting was well presented. There are two tasting options available, Option 1 – 4 wines from the Everyday drinking or Standard range, or Option 2 – any 4 wines, this basically allows you to taste the excellent Cape Blend as well. Tastings and Sales – Tuesday to Sun: 09:00 till 18:00 (Sun till 17:00)
Award winning wines to taste – Meerendal Intensio Pinotage 2017, Meerendal Sauvignon Blanc 2020
Restaurants at Meerendal
Meerendal estate has two restaurants and a farmstall selling all sorts of farm products, Meerendal merchandise and a great cup of coffee.
Il Tesoro is the fine dining restaurant on the Meerendal estate, offering a range of dishes, from wild boar ragu with spinach gnocchi to interesting beef or chicken dishes. All produce used is ethically and locally sourced from the surrounding farms.
Carlucci’s is a popular deli restaurant franchise. The restaurant at Meerendal offers a variety of dishes from excellent burgers to pizzas, sushi and sandwiches. There is a great playground and big lawn for kids to play, great spot for a coffee.
Mountain Bike and Running Trails
Meerendal is home to a range of very popular mountain bike trails for all levels. Interntational events like the Cape Epic has been hosted here. The trails are graded from easy to medium and is designed and marked for different skill levels. The routes take 1-2 hours to complete depending on your pace.
There are three running trails at Meerendal with a combined distance of 9km.
Meerendal Wine Academy
Enter the Meerendal wine academy for an introduction to the wine making process. Experience all aspects of wine making from the vineyard to the cellar, learn from the wine maker, do official wine tasting courses.
Accommodation at Meerendal
Meerendal Boutique Hotel – Stay in this luxury 4 star hotel with beautiful, big room and bathrooms. Great location – easy access to the wine lands and the western coast beaches, Cape Town and the V&A Waterfront, and the Cape Town international airport (shuttle for pick up available).
The boutique winery Canto is the latest addition to the Durbanville Wine Route and only opened its doors in January 2018. The farm is well known for producing excellent MCC’s (champagne) and we were looking forward to the renowned MCC and macaron pairing. The tasting room looks like a white chapel in the middle of a huge lawn surrounded by vineyards. Canto is located on the Vissershok road next to Meerendal. The owner Marinus Neethling bought the land from Meerendal in 2012 and has 18 hectares of vineyards producing Chardonnay and Merlot grapes. The name Canto means ‘lyric’ in Italian, apparently the name reflects the strong ties with Meerendal where ‘Canto is the lyric’, and, ‘ Meerendal is the song’.
Wine tasting at Canto
The modern tasting room is stylish and comfortable with a bar and lounge area furnished with comfortable couches, tasting tables and chairs, with the winery in the background. There are two tasting options at Canto, the MCC tasting with 4 MCC’s and their standard wine tasting with a mix of 5 red and white wines. From the still wines Canto produce an excellent wooded Chardonnay and a very nice full bodied Merlot.
The MCC and Macaron pairing:
- Canto Chardonnay MCC Brut 2016, paired with a White Hazelnut macaroon.
- Canto Shiraz Rose MCC Brut 2018, paired with a Red Velvet macaroon.
- Canto Pinot Noir MCC Brut 2017, paired with a Pink Turkish Delight macaroon.
- Canto Chardonnay/Pinot Noir MCC Brut 2018, paired with a Brown Salted Caramel macaroon.
The tasting room has a deli fridge stocked with a variety of cheeses, cold meats and condiments to build your own platter for the tasting room.
Award winning wines to taste – Canto Merlot 2018
Picnic at Canto
Canto has a massive lawn, the perfect place for picnics which are available on Saturdays and Sundays. To picnic at Canto a minimum purchase from the deli is required (excluding wine and beverage purchases). Ten spots are available with a maximum of 4 people per picnic spot, this is on a first-come first-served basis.
The award winning boutique winery Nitida, known for their excellent Sauvignon Blanc wines, has an interesting story. Owner Bernhard Veller and his wife bought the piece of land in 1990 not knowing much about farming or wine making. Together with a farm worker named Klaas, Bernard planted their first vineyards in 1992, planning to just make a couple of barrels of wine. Three years later they won their first awards for excellent Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon wines and today they are recognized as one of the best boutique wineries in the Cape. Danie Keulder was the winemaker at Nitida untill recently and has also produced some excellent reds with award winning Merlot and Pinot Noir vintages.
Nitida Wines are named after the protea nitida which grows in the endangered Renosterveld Flora. The local flora is important to Bernard and Peta Veller that incorporates the endangered vegetation into their beautiful, carefully designed labels.
Comparing 4 different Sauvignon Blanc wines in a sensory tasting at Nitida with some aroma sensory components. Even on this picture you can see a big difference between the wines made in different styles.
Wine Tasting at Nitida
Tasting here is a unique experience on the Durbanville wine route, you feel part of the wine making process. The tasting area is small and inside a cellar surrounded by wine barrels where staff are tasting, blending and going on with their wine making duties.
There are three tasting options; a classic tasting of 4 wines, artisanal tasting of 4 more expensive and limited wines and a Sauvignon Sensory Tasting.
The Sauvignon Blanc Tasting at Nitida
You get to taste 4 of Nitida’s award winning Sauvignon Blanc wines and get a goodie basket filled with an assortment of components you can sniff and even taste to awaken your senses.
Award winning wines to taste – Nitida Golden Orb 2018 (Sauvignon Blanc), Nitida Sauvignon Blanc 2018, Nitida Wild Child 2018 (Sauvignon Blanc), Nitida Semillon 2018
Restaurants at Nitida
There are two restaurants owned and managed by Warren Swaffield on the estate, Cassia Restaurant and Tables at Nitida.
Cassia, a spice also known as Asian cinnamon, is the name of Nitida wine estate’s resident restaurant. The restaurant has an awesome setting with a large wooden deck hanging over the farm dam with amazing views across the Durbanville vineyards. Chef Barend Gouws and his team prepares a diverse menu described as ‘contemporary, rustic cuisine’. Tuesday to Saturday for Lunch and Dinner, Sunday Lunch only
Tables at Ntida is a family bistro, chef Shani Kleynhans and her team focus on preparing simple food using locally produced and sourced ingredients that complement the cuisine.
Sharing a cheese platter and tasting excellent wine at a great venue we really loved the wine farm D’Aria. The farming history of this land goes back about 300 years, D’Aria was however established in 1998 and the first wine vintage was produced ten years later. Today the wines produced here by winemaker Rudi von Waltsleben are top notch with several award winning whites and reds. They pride themselves on excellent terroir, minimal handling of the grapes and doing the vinification process by hand as far as possible. The location is beautiful with a open Tasting Room that overlooks a small dam and fountain from the rear deck. There are several bench tables under the trees on the grass next to the water. The atmosphere in the tasting room is great, it is a self help set up. The award winning Poplars Restaurant is located at D’Aria.
You can enjoy good burgers and a wine tasting on the wooden deck between tall trees overlooking the dam.
Wine tasting at D’Aria
The tasting is served one glass at a time at the counter inside the tasting room. Rudi, owner and wine maker, is a music man and many of the wines names are music related. You can choose 5 wines from the Music and Premium Ranges or 3 wines from the reserve range. From the Premium Range we really enjoyed the Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot with rich red fruit. The wooded Sauvignon Blanc ‘The Following’ is something different.
Award winning wines to taste – D’Aria Songbird Sauvignon Blanc 2018, D’Aria Wild Thing Sauvignon Blanc 2019, D’Aria Soprano Shiraz 2018
Restaurant at D’Aria
Poplars restaurant is a beautiful large house with many interesting rooms inside, this divides the restaurant into more intimate dining areas. There is a large veranda overlooking the gardens which is a great place to sit in summer.
Poplars has a modern European grill menu that pairs well with the excellent sauvignon blancs and rich reds from D’Aria.
The farm Maastricht was established in 1702 producing grapes for many years, but producing wines under the Maastricht label only started recently. The early Dutch settlers named the farm Maastricht because the clay soils reminded them of their home town with the same name. The Louw family have been making wine here since 1982, establishing the Maastricht wine farm in 2010. The farm is planted with about 100 hectares of vineyards, mainly Sauvignon Blanc, Pinotage, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon with a small block of Pinot Noir.
Wine tasting at Maastricht
The entrance to the tasting area is really nice with a flower filled path leading up to the old barn that has been converted into a tasting room. The new outside tasting area overlooking the vineyards is perfect for a summers day and we enjoyed our tasting here. Six estate wines can be tasted or add the excellent limited release wooded Chardonnay and MCC to taste all 8 wines. The lady that presented the tasting was friendly and knowledgeable. Some light meals or snacks are available for purchase at the tasting room.
Bloemendal Wine farm was established in 1702 and is one of the largest wine farms in the Durbanville region, stretching into the Kanonberg Mountains. The first wine cellar on Bloemendal was built in 1920, but the farm was only registered as a wine estate in 1987. A producer of quality award-winning wines, best known for excellent Sauvignon Blancs typical for the Durbanville wine valley. The popular family restaurant, Bon Amis is located on the estate. This is a very family friendly venue with sprawling lawns, a jungle gym for the kids, a cycling track, wood fired pizza oven and even kiddies juice and ice cream tasting!
Wine tasting at Bloemendal
Bloemendal has an extensive range of wines you can taste and offer some interesting food pairings. The small tasting room and terrace is nice for wine tasting, but there is not much of a view from the tasting center. Wine tasting including a selection of five wines. The Estate range has some excellent wines including the much hyped (well deserved) Suider Terras Sauvignon Blanc. Another interesting pairing is the wine and ice cream pairing, consisting of 3 wines paired with ice creams from Nina’s Ice Cream.
The popular family restaurant Bon Amis perched on a hill has fantastic panoramic views of the vineyards in the Durbanville wine valley, Table mountain and Lions head. The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Bon Amis has a lot of potential with an amazing venue wood-fired pizzas and freshly made sushi.
Things To Do at Bloemendal
Bloemendal is home to the awesome Biosport mountain bike trails for all skill levels. Biosport is a mountain biking cycle track situated on the estate they also provide bike hire and host biking events. The Bloemendal and Hillcrest trails are a network of diverse trails in the beautiful Durbanville hills offering the rider a selection of trails, great jump runs, and flowing picturesque trails. Open 8am – 5pm Monday to Sunday
Altydgedacht Estate is one of the oldest farms in South Africa, a family farm established in 1698. The historic farm has been in the Parker family for since 1852, a legacy spanning six generations. You can feel the history in the 300 year old cellar with its white washed walls.
Wines at Altydgedacht
Altydgedacht make some fantastic wines, some unusual cultivars and styles for this part of the world. Altydgedacht made a single variety wine from the Italian variety Barbera with berry and liquorice aromas, a great red wine not to miss. They offer a great dry Gewurztraminer with Turkish delight and rose petal aromas. The Old Vine Chennin Blanc 2018 is a terroir driven wine made from 46 year old single vineyard vines. A unique Chennin with lots of apple and citrus notes and hints of oak, it was matured in french oak.