Thursday, 5 May 2016

The Winelands, South Africa - Vergelegen, Delaire Graff, Zorgvliet and Asara Wine Estates

I came to South Africa for the animals. David came for the scenery. Neither of us went home disappointed. With safari parks coming later in our trip, our first stop after leaving Cape Town was the Winelands - a region rich in history, architecture and beautiful scenery. Centred around the towns of Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl, and set against a mountain backdrop, this is one of the prettiest regions we have ever visited. The myriad of wine estates seem to compete with each other for the prize of most picturesque.


Although the Winelands are only 40 minutes drive from Cape Town, we chose to stay for a few nights rather than day-trip from the city. Most of the estates welcome visitors, and as well as wine tasting, many of them have restaurants and accommodation. David was in seventh heaven - so much so that we altered our plans and spent another two nights in the region at the end of our trip. By then I had had such a great time at the safari parks we visited I was willing to agree to almost anything.

Cape Dutch Architecture - 


After more than three decades of travelling the world with David, I am one of those people who comes to a church, castle or monastery and thinks, 'Oh no not another one!' I have seen enough medieval, renaissance and just plain 'old' buildings to last me a life-time, but even I was enchanted by the Wineland's Cape Dutch architecture. 

Cape Dutch architecture has white-washed walls (sometimes yellow), large attractive gables and thatched roofs. Its roots are in the styles of medieval Holland and Germany, where many of the first European settlers came from. I defy anyone to look at a Cape Dutch building and moan - 'Oh no, not another one!'

Cape Dutch architecture at Vergelegen
Cape Dutch architecture at Vergelegen

Groot Constantia - Cape Town
Cape Dutch architecture at Groot Constantia - Cape Town

Vergelegen


Our guide book described Vergelegen as one of the most stunning of all the Wineland Estates and I absolutely agree. Despite it being a bit out of the way we didn't want to miss it so we called in for lunch on our way to the Winelands.

My Tip: - We just turned up and got a table but we arrived quite early. If you know you want lunch at Vergelegen ring ahead and book.


Vergeleglen
Vergeleglen

Vergelegen
The view from the restaurant
Cape Dutch architecture at Vergelegen
Vergelegen

Delaire Graff


Delaire Graff is the winery to visit if you want stunning scenery. We had lunch there - twice. The first time it was a magnificent blue-sky day, we sat outside in the front row of tables and just soaked up the view. 

The second time, a couple of weeks later, we had an inside table with a view of the carpark. It had rained the night before and the outside area was closed. None of the inside tables have good views. Without the view, Delaire Graff is just another restaurant. 

My tips: - Reserve a table in advance. You can do this on-line.  If it looks like rain, ring ahead and check whether the outside areas will be open.

Delaire Graff
The lunchtime view on a fine day from Delaire Graff

The outside tables at Delaire Graff restaurant

Zorgvliet


Are you getting the impression that the Winelands are all about eating! I am sure there is a lot of drinking too but David and I mostly stuck to eating. Eggs benedict for breakfast every day, two-course lunches and three-course dinners really started to take their toll.  

On our return visit I was determined to cut down on the lunches at least, so we tried a picnic 'Sth African wine estate style'. Many of the wineries we visited had beautiful picnic areas where you could indulge in one of their gourmet hampers. At Zorgvliet we chose the smallest hamper, left half the food untouched and still managed to eat too much - oh well! 

My tip:- Don't eat anything at all for at least six months before you visit the Winelands and you may, provided you are very careful, be able to come out of the experience without packing on extra kilos.


Zorgvliet picnic area
The picnic area at Zorgvliet



Zorgvliet picnic hamper
Our gourmet picnic

Asara


Many of the large wine estates have accommodation as well as restaurants, picnic areas and wine tasting. On our way back to Cape Town, we stayed two nights at Asara Wine Estate. The fine dining restaurant was closed both nights so I can't tell you what its food was like. We had dinner both nights at 'Sansibar', Asara's casual dining venue and still managed to eat too much.  In the mornings the view from the terrace at breakfast was stunning. 

My tip: - The photos and descriptions of the different categories of rooms on Asara's website don't quite match the actual rooms so if you want a particular feature like a fireplace, view across the lake, or free standing bath, send an email and ask for it. We didn't get the room we expected. However when we raised the issue after our first night we were moved to another room. The staff were pleasant, efficient and helpful in dealing with the problem.


Asara Wine Estate
Asara Wine Estate - the view from the breakfast terrace

The topic of next week's post will be our first game park - Botlierskop Private Game Reserve. Keep an eye out for it next Friday/Saturday.

For last week's post click here.

For links to the full list of my South African road trip posts click here.

42 comments:

  1. Sounds so gracious and delicious. The views across the vineyards are breathtaking. Now I'll be certain to include a wine tour when I visit Cape Town.

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    1. Gracious is a very good word for it. It was gracious.

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  2. Loving these photos - and I dont often see articles on SA as a wine country. Nice!

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    1. I have written mainly about the food but the wines were lovely too. There was a particular Groot Constantia chardonnay which David wanted to bring home a couple of bottles of. Unfortunately it had sold out by the time we went back to buy it.

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  3. Looks amazing. Appears you are having a great time there

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  4. I've been to the wine lands a couple of times and they are wonderful - we went to different vineyards but still with the same wonderful scenery and always fabulous wine. #theweeklypostcard

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    1. It is the Cape Dutch architecture which really blows me away.

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  5. Th wine country of South Africa looks astounding Lyn. One more thing to add to the possibilities of a future trip.
    I also love the way you describe the differences of what you and David want in a trip. Cleverly told and makes me chuckle.

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    1. I am glad I made you laugh. Having met David yourself, I am sure you can appreciate how hard it can be to talk him out of anything.

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  6. Wow, well you certainly know you aren't in Napa! That scenery is gorgeous and SA wines are yummy. we we got more the them here.

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    1. David loves wine, and we have been to many wine regions around the world. The Winelands near Cape Town are without question the most stunning wine growing area we have ever been to.

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  7. Agree with you! This type of architecture is lovely. In my case, I never get tired of Spanish Colonial architecture since the buildings are usually painted in vibrant colors. The buildings in your photos reminds me of Curacao (Dutch too).

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    1. Curacao - now that sounds like an exotic destination. We have seen some beautiful brightly coloured buildings in both Chile and Argentina, which reflect their Spanish heritage.

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  8. Even though I've been to the region before, I'm still so jealous! The views from the wine estates are incredible, we hadn't thought of staying over in one, that is such a good idea. Next time, I guess!

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    1. We only thought of it after a few days. We visited the Winelands on our way to the Garden Route and stayed in Stellenbosch, but on the way back we realised it would be lovely to actually stay on a wine estate.

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  9. There is not generally an awful lot that makes me want to go back and live in South Africa, but your post had my heart thumping and a big tear in my eye. This is my old stomping ground Lyn and I know these wineries well. Oh for nights under the stars again at Vergelegen with the Philharmonic Orchestra and a lovely bottle of pilotage. The light, the scenery, gosh the Cape is beautiful isn't it? Thanks for the memories :)

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    1. I can understand why you miss it sometimes. The whole western cape was so much more beautiful than I expected. David and I are already planning a return trip in the next couple of years.

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  10. These big old gabled homes remind me of the Dutch Landhuizen we saw in Curacao. However, the South African countryside is so lush and the scenery is jaw-dropping beautiful compared to Curacao's dry coastal scrub desert. I can see why you said wrote that it's "One of the prettiest regions we have ever visited." If ever a place deserved to be called picturesque the wine region of South Africa would have my vote!

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    1. Ruth Rieckehoff also said the houses reminded her of Curacao. Her comment is just a couple of comments above yours. I can see I might have to put Curacao on my travel wishlist.

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  11. We visited Vergelegen and I enjoyed it a lot. The Dutch Cape Architecture is just beautiful and the landscape and the weather ... By the way, I read in your previous post that you will drive to Port Elizabeth. There is the most stunning beach I've ever seen just about a 20 minutes drive away in Sardinia Bay (west of Port Elizabeth). Don't miss out on that one ;) #wkendtravelinspiration

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    1. My blog is a few weeks behind the real world me. While we were in Port Elizabeth we started to walk the Sacramento Trail which leads to Sardinia Bay but it was a pretty terrible day weather-wise; overcast and very windy. It was hard to appreciate anything. We abandoned the walk after a few hundred metres and drove to the Bay just to have a look but we didn't stay long.

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  12. I agree with you - SA has enough variety that everyone will find something they like.
    There's so much to love about SA's Winelands. We never visited the vineyards you mention but the places we did see look quite similar. Were we to do the trip over, I'd go for an overnight (or two) instead of a day trip. CPT is just picture postcard beautiful. Thanks for taking me back!

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    1. We were originally going to just visit the Winelands in a day from Cape Town but I am really glad we decided to stay there instead.

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  13. It looks so pretty just like in your other posts, there's so much to see, and good tips about reserving ahead.

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    1. It is a great area to be a tourist in.

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  14. I'd love to go around the Winelands - great scenery, architecture, weather, food AND wine! I think staying there is a very good idea. I'm particularly taken with the idea of a gourmet picnic! #TheWeeklyPostcard

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    1. The gourmet picnic was just lovely. Our children are grown up but all the wineries seemed to have lovely play grounds and were very children friendly.

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  15. Those views are unbelievable! I'd be eating every meal out and I wouldn't even care about the extra kilos. Just beautiful scenery and architecture, what a treat!

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    1. Haha - I am dealing with the extra kilos now. Fortunately our next trip involves a lot of cycling so I am hoping that will help.

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  16. Ah, the scenery in South Africa is divine! I have to go there by all means. My camera will suffer if I don't. Cape Dutch architecture is very simple but quite unique. I've never seen anything like it. Thanks for linking up with #TheWeeklyPostcard, Lyn. It's always a delight to read your posts.

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    1. Thank you for your kind words, Anda. We concentrated on the Cape, both western and eastern and the scenery was just stunning.

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  17. You are making it very easy for us to plan our trip to South Africa, which will take place in September! Great posting about the Winelands, and look forward to the next one!

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    1. If you have any specific questions just send me an email or contact me through Facebook. I am happy to help.

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  18. WOW! If the wine and food are half as delicious as the buildings and views are gorgeous, then it's bound to be amazing! We were watching an episode of Wallander last night in which they were in South Africa, and my husband is finally showing some interest in Africa thanks to that show and posts like yours!

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    1. Haha - I know how hard it can be to get hubby interested in a destination. I practically had to drag David to Alaska last year but we got there in the end.

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  19. What a gorgeous area! Yes, the Cape Dutch architecture is beautiful. It sounds like a wonderful area and experience. I love the picnic choice too! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. I think the picnic was my favourite. I didn't walk away feeling like I had eaten too much for once.

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  20. So funny, I made almost the same pictures in Vergelegen ;) #TravelTuesday

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    1. Haha - I imagine there are literally thousands of pictures out there which are almost identical, the scenes are so lovely.

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