I always enjoy discovering hidden gems in my backyard, so when I was invited to an evening showcasing the wine farms of suburban Cape Town, I was thrilled. This is slow life – less time missioning, more time being wherever you are. If that place happens to be an historic wine farm with jaw-dropping scenery, all the better.
Driving only 20 minutes south of central Cape Town, you will discover a collection of wine farms ranging from restored 17th century homesteads to chic new world wineries. Jared Ruttenberg (@jaredincpt) is a wine-loving social media influencer who has made it a pet project to promote the aptly named Constantia Wine Route, and in one very special evening he piqued my interest in farms I have always loved but tend to forget.
There are nine wine farms on the Constantia Wine Route, so my recommendation would be to include only three each time you venture out so as to truly savor each experience. I have grouped the farms together into mini ‘itineraries’ below to help with logistics and ensure you end with a long lazy lunch at one of my favorite farm restaurants.
Slow Wine Route #1: Romantic Day Out
10h00-11h00: Drive via Kirstenbosch to Constantia Glen, enjoying magnificent views from this mountainside wine estate. Constantia Glen (est. 2000) is particularly renowned for its new world Bordeaux varieties in an area otherwise known primarily for white wine grapes, so be sure to enjoy their reds to get a taste of France in South Africa.
11h15-12h30: Drive 8 minutes uphill from Constantia Glen to Beau Constantia, a chic new farm with impressive architecture and incredible views. Beau Constantia also focuses strongly on red cultivars, and if you want to have a small dish before lunch, the Chefs Warehouse is on the farm and they serve a tapas style menu. The stylish décor and outdoor ‘lounging beds’ create an ideal visual experience – if you are like me, this will excite you almost as much as the wines!
12h45-15h45: Drive just 3 minutes over the top of Constantia Nek and go down towards Hout Bay where you find Silvermist Estate. This very new boutique winery has a small selection of good quality wines (some of them uniquely organic) which pair beautifully with your meal, so be sure to make a booking at the new La Colombe on the farm – a culinary experience to remember.
Slow Wine Route #2: Family Outing
10h00-12h00: Arriving at Constantia Uitsig, take the opportunity to explore the Heritage Market where you can sample artisan sushi, chocolate, and of course do a wine tasting in one of the renovated laborer’s cottages. Your kids can run around on the grass and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere, or if your kids love biking there is also a bike park on the farm – super cool. Uitsig is the oldest wine farm in South Africa, and produces beautiful white wines, my favorites being the wooded Chardonnay and the Semillon.
12h15-15h30: Just 10 minutes by car takes you to Groot Constantia, where you are welcomed by a large historical estate with renovated Cape Dutch buildings, walking paths through extensive vineyards, and huge grounds to enjoy ambling between your food and wine journey. Stop for the wine tasting where you will enjoy tasting a large selection of red and white wines. Wander down to watch the ducks and let the kids play in the designated play area while you create a DIY picnic to enjoy under the ancient oak trees.
Slow Wine Route #4: Dramatic Scenery
10h00-11h00: Drive South on the M3 to start your day at Steenberg Wine Estate, which has the honor of being the Cape’s first established farm (and unconventionally, by a FEMALE pioneer!). Settle into one of the comfy sofas in the stylish tasting room, and make sure to include a tasting of the iconic MCC. You can also wander through the gardens enjoying the installation art pieces and the stunning views reflected on the surrounding pools.
11h15-12h30: Drive 10 minutes from Steenberg to Klein Constantia, where you find a classical farm with incredible views over False Bay. This is a good opportunity to just relax and enjoy the diverse range of wines, but this new generation farm is particularly known for their Vin de Constance – be sure to give it a try!
12h45-15h45: Drive 5 minutes from Klein Constantia to Buitenvervachting. Make sure to do a brief tasting in their relaxed tasting room, then carry on to the restaurant where you will enjoy a spectacular culinary experience. The waiters are always guaranteed to curate the dining experience carefully, and will recommend wines from your tasting to pair with the foods. Between delicious courses, sit back and enjoy the stunning views over the vineyards which rise straight up from the restaurant veranda. If you still have energy, make your way to the little artisanal coffee shop on the farm for a one-of-a-kind coffee tasting!