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February 22, 2011

Cape wine region wins top honours


The Cape is famous for its beautiful vineyards and unbelievable wines.
Photo courtesy: Michiel Van Balen/Flickr

Cape vintage has long been recognised as a top contender in the international wine industry. We do, after all, have a history of viniculture – grape growing for wine production – that stretches over 350 years. The Dutch East India Company started a route supply station in Cape Town, and the first vineyards were harvested in 1659 in a (misinformed) bid to help prevent scurvy among sailors and traders. Vineyards in Constantia quickly established themselves in their own right and Vin de Constance soon became the dessert drink of choice among the world’s literati and leaders (quaffers included Napoleon Bonaparte, Jane Austen and Charles Dickens, to name a few). Since then, South African wine and the Cape Winelands have only developed – and matured – in leaps and bounds.

So when Swedish wine club Munskänkarna, which has over 20 000 members, votes Stellenbosch Wine Town of the Year for 2011, we’re not surprised. Honoured, but not surprised. The honour is great – this is the first time a wine region outside the EU has been named Wine Town of the Year – and it fittingly goes to one of South Africa’s world-class wine regions.

CEO of Stellenbosch Wine Routes Annareth Bolton commented on the significance of this award for the country, and its expected outcomes: “South Africa currently holds 20.5% of the market share in the Swedish wine market, making us the largest exporter to their country. We expect many more groups and visitors to our area, and we look forward to showcasing our exceptional quality wines and tourism offerings!”

Wine tourism is an incredible drawcard to the Cape, and connoisseurs should keep not just Stellenbosch, but also Constantia, Durbanville and the Helderberg in mind, all of which house estates that are guaranteed to impress with their famous wines, breathtaking scenery and incredible dining opportunities.

If you’re based in Cape Town, be sure to start in Constantia Valley, home to some of the country’s oldest and best-known estates. Located at the centre of the Cape Peninsula, the valley stretches up the southeast slopes of Table Mountain National Park, is close to the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, and is a short drive from Cape Town’s city centre. From there the trip to Durbanville is just short of half an hour, while Helderberg wine route is a little further afield, but will take you to over 20 estates, including famous wineries Vergelegen and Avontuur, before you hit Stellenbosch’s superb offerings.

If all of this sounds like a trip up your vineyard, then do check out this list of wine tour operators.

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