I must admit that I am not extremely knowledgeable when it comes to wine. Don’t get me wrong, I love having a glass of red wine each night or three (*for heart reasons of course*). However, when I am at a traditional food and wine pairing and someone asks me “now what do you taste?” I just don’t have a good answer besides “wine.”
That’s why I was so excited when we were set up to go on a food and wine pairing tour around the Stellenbosch vineyards in South Africa to try a plethora of different food and wine pairing options. With all these new and different wine pairings, I was bound to become a better wine connoisseur, right?
Well, turns out my week in Stellenbosch taking wine tours paid off. I can now say that I can go to the vineyard and pick out what I like. No, I’m not a Master Sommelier, but after hanging around South Africa’s wine region I can say with confidence I am a better wino. I want you to enjoy your wine like I did as well with these tours. Here are the best Stellenbosch wine tours we found ourselves on!
The Best Stellenbosch Wine Tours
Wine & Salt Pairing at Die Bergkelder
Merlot with beef carpaccio. Sauvignon Blanc with salmon gravlax. Pinotage with salted peanuts. What do all those pairings have in common besides sounding delectable? They all involve salt in the dishes! We loved our salt pairing wine tour with the unfiltered and prestigious Fleur Du Cap wines at Die Bergkelder.
Food and Wine Blending with Boerebraai at Middlevlei
The wines here are paired with natural artisanal salts from around the world like Hawaiian sea salts, Iranian blue rock salt, and Indian mineral salt. Salt has a very distinctive taste, and we would have never of thought to pair it with wine – thank god for this Stellenbosch wine tasting and trying it out!
The perfect family winery to stop at and enjoy wine and lunch! Middlevlei invites guests to come and have fun with their wine by blending and creating their own with different blends, sugars, and liquid wood smoke. After creating the perfect blend then it’s time for a traditional Afrikaans lunch. For the non-South Africans, a braai is a traditional outdoor barbecue perfect for all types of gatherings. We’ve had the good fortune of being invited to a number of braais and love trying all the different flavors involved.
Wine & Biltong Pairing at L’Avenir
Known for “Distinctly South African wines with a touch of French flair,” L’Avenir focuses on quality wines blending the two regions. We came here specifically for their wine and biltong pairing and left more than satisfied and would even dub it the best Stellenbosch wine tour on this list.
For those that don’t know, Biltong is the South African equivalent to beef jerky. It is savory and salty enough to make for a fantastic wine pairing. Our favorite here was their signature citrusy Brut Rose mixed with the spicy biltong. Yum!
Wine & Everything Pairing at Delaire Graff
Coined “The jewel of the Cape Winelands” Delaire Graff is truly luxury at its finest. In between the majestic mountains and overlooking the valleys of Stellenbosch is the fantastic Indochine restaurant where visitors can have a seven-course food and wine pairing. All the food is Asian themed and the waiters know their stuff when it comes to proper pairings. We walked in and told our server that we completely trusted his judgment and were not disappointed. I would definitely recommend taking an Uber to and from Indochine. At the end of seven glasses of high-class wine there is no leaving in the driver seat of a car.
Wine & Chocolate Pairing at Lanzerac
This beautiful estate takes chocolate and wine takes a whole other level. Going from white chocolate and dark cinnamon orange chocolate to their premium chardonnays and pinotage, you won’t leave disappointed. This tasting started off our tasting tour in the Stellenbosch region and left us wanting more and more. They were the first bottle Pinotage in the Stellenbosch region, have an impressive tasting room, stunning outdoor surroundings, and even a luxurious spa for when you’re ready to retire the wine.
Wine & Cupcake Pairing at Delheim
If not completely full yet then make way to Delheim high in the Simonsberg Mountains. This family-owned estate has been passed down for generations and is known for their wine and cupcake pairing. Four cupcakes – four glasses of wine. What could possibly be sweeter?
Where to Stay in Stellenbosch
It’s going to be hard to do all these Stellenbosch wine tours in one day! A base is definitely needed while exploring South Africa’s wine region to fully enjoy all the wine that is on offer. We found that base at Oude Werf Hotel conveniently located in Stellenbosch’s main square. Oude Werf is Stellenbosch’s “oldest, newest hotel,” and has been an inn since 1802. Now it is a beautiful lush hotel that still maintains the old flair it had since the very beginning.
The rooms at Oude Werf are designed with optimal comfort in mind. The beds have been meticulously chosen so that guests are ensured a good nights sleep. Rooms open up to the old yard (meaning “Oude Werf”) which is vibrant green and has a fabulous lounge area. I did say that this was the newest, oldest hotel right? Well, being the newest one can expect high-speed internet, satellite TV, and even Nespresso machines in the rooms.
When pooped from all the wine pairings during the day, guests can rest easy knowing that they don’t have to walk far for dinner. The Oude Werf restaurant is just in the rear of the hotel and is a comfortable, yet stylish place to have a quaint dinner. Gather around the fireplace on the cold nights or step outside to eat under the vines in the courtyard. The restaurant serves traditional South African and Cape dishes with an astonishing variety of dishes and of course, wine.
You know what they say – location, location, location. Oude Werf is situated right on Church street, meaning it’s literally steps away from all the famous landmarks, shops, cafes, and most important the wine estates. We loved being able to park our car in their underground free parking for a few days while we could walk everywhere and mozy about.
Whether a South African or a foreigner traveling the country, Stellenbosch is certainly worth at least a few days stop. To really embrace all that the region has to offer and not feel completely rushed then I would recommend staying 4-7 days exploring the Stellenbosch vineyards. The region is hailed as being one of the best in the world for wine lovers. Even for the non-wine drinkers, there is still plenty to do, see, and drink check out more of our experiences here.
How to Enjoy These Stellenbosch Wine Tours
Many wineries accept walk-ins for wine tastings, however, it’s never a bad idea to call ahead and make a booking ahead of time. The best way to get around Stellenbosch is with your own vehicle. We rented ours in Johannesburg before setting out on our grand South African road trip.
If you don’t have a car or think you’ll wine tastings will put you over the drinking limit. I would suggest hopping a Stellenbosch guided tour!
Quick Travel Tips for South Africa
- Languages Spoken: The most widely spoken language is Zulu, then Xhosa, followed by Afrikaans. However, just about everyone speaks English.
- Capital: South Africa has no legally defined capital city. Instead, there are three South African capitals. They are Pretoria (executive capital), Bloemfontein (judicial), and Cape Town (legislative).
- Currency: South African Rand 4 (ZAR) – $.
- Visa: Some nationalities are issued a 90-day visa on arrival. Check with your embassy for the best information. The visas are consecutive, not concurrent, don’t be like us and get kicked out.
- Weather: Hot and humid especially during the summer months.
- What to Pack: Depends on the season and where you are at. Definitely bring hiking shoes, a bathing suit, and a jacket.
- Malaria: Not a major threat in South Africa. In the rainy season, areas around Kruger and the north are at mild risk of malaria.
- Stay Connected: Vodacom, Telcom, OneCell, and MTN are cell phone and internet providers. Check here for more information.
- Adaptor: You’ll need this adaptor in Southern Africa.
- Tipping: This is a tipping country and visitors should expect to tip for anything from a lunch out, to gas station attendants, to security guards in parking lots. Tips to car guards can be anything between 2 and 10 ZAR while 10% is the norm for waitstaff.