There are many wine routes and there are over 200 wine cellars in the Western Cape, from the historic Groot Constantia Estate near Cape Town to the Calitzdorp region producing high quality brandies and ports.
When exploring these wine routes may I suggest that you be well prepared. Gather all the information you need, and plan to visit say three or four estates on any one route. You will need a vehicle, a dedicated driver, and a willing drinking partner too.
Some venues just lend themselves to wine tasting and in this instance Boschendal Wine Estate is no exception. Imagine sipping their 1685 Shiraz 2004 while sitting under the huge 270 year old oak trees looking up at their myriad of branches while you ponder life.
It’s not just the huge trees and superb wines that get one’s attention at Boschendal, it’s also the endless amount of space the estate seems to encompass. Although it carries the address of Franschhoek, Boschendal is actually equidistant from Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl. if you’re looking to spend a lazy day in stunning surroundings, while tasting fine wines and eating delicious food, then Boschendal is the place.
To my mind choosing wines is easy; just taste everything. As far as eating goes there are various options to choose from. The Boschendal restaurant serves their famous and extensive buffet luncheons daily. For the less peckish, there is Le Cafe which serves lighter meals and teas in the shade of the sprawling oaks. Or you can order the picnic lunch and sprawl out on a blanket under the trees with the nearby mountains keeping an impassive eye on you.
After lunch you might want to visit the exquisitely renovated manor house (which dates back to 1812), and a stroll through the vineyards and rose garden to help walk off the effects of the tasty lunch.
There is of course much more to the wine-lands than just food and wine; so before getting down to the business of eating and drinking do take in the fascinating history, so full of culture, character and characters.
Other activities and attractions can be found hidden behind these vineyards and discovering them is an unforgettable adventure too. Consider a hot air balloon ride as the sun rises above the vineyards; better still, feel the wind in your face as you launch yourself off the top of the Franschhoek Pass with just a paraglider separating you from the grapes below. Hiking, shopping, arts and crafts, golf, nature walks, museums and then wine, more wine and some food are all available.
Boschendal is a 45-minute drive from Cape Town. Wine tastings cost R15 and includes five wines. The picnic at Pique Nique costs R110. For more information see http://www.boschendal.com.
Groot Constantia Estate in Constantia is the oldest wine-producing farm in the country. Wine sales and tasting take place daily from 9am to 6pm.