The Grande Dames of the Cape Winelands

These wine farms are old – very old – but like a fine wine, they’ve only gotten better, more elegant, and more beautiful with the passing of the centuries. Groot Constantia is an excellent example of such a stately old lady, but there are many others to experience and explore. And so here they are: the quintessential Cape wine farms that deliver a heady blend of beautiful wine, vineyard-wreathed views, fine dining experiences, and a length and breadth of grandeur that only centuries of history can achieve.

Babylonstoren, Franschhoek


History: Established in 1692 – some of its earliest Cape Dutch buildings still stand today.

Offering: Babylonstoren is a fruit and wine farm set against a dramatic mountainous backdrop in Franschhoek. It’s home to one of the best-preserved farmyards in the Cape, a kaleidoscopic 8-acre garden, a spa, and luxury accommodations.

Food: the Greenhouse Restaurant serves picnic-style refreshments; the Bakery serves freshly baked treats and, from 19:00 onwards, casual dinners; and Babel Restaurant is a refined farm-to fork restaurant.

Wine: A range of elegant and balanced white and reds that include a single varietal Viognier, Chenin Blanc, Mourvèdre rosé, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Shiraz, as well as white and red blends and a Chardonnay MCC.


Boschendal, Franschhoek


History: Established in 1685, making it one of the Cape’s oldest.

Offering: Boschendal is a beautiful Franschhoek wine estate and farm with plenty of diversion on offer, from wine tasting and food garden tours to MTB trails and picnics. There is also a variety of accommodation to choose from.

They have recently introduced The Tree House to their activities list which offers children aged 4 – 14 years a chance to enjoy an authentic outdoor and farm experience.

Food: Boschendal’s Deli offers delightful, family-friendly meals under the oaks, while its flagship restaurant, The Werf, serves innovative fine dining overlooking the farm’s enormous food garden.

Wine: Boschendal produces an extraordinary array of red, white, and sparkling wines in all price ranges and which are available for tasting in the gardens under the oak trees or in the charming Manor House.


Buitenverwachting, Constantia


History: In 1773, Buitenverwachting was sold as a portion of the original Constantia Estate owned by Governor Simon van der Stel.

Offering: Buitenverwachting, meaning ‘beyond expectation’, is a 150-hectare wine estate perched on the east-facing slopes of the Constantiaberg. On offer are wine tastings, exquisite views, an on-site coffee roastery, and a lifestyle gift shop selling jewellery and bespoke furniture.

Food: A sit-down restaurant offers a choice between a three or five-course set menu, with or without wine pairing.

Wine: Located in the cool Constantia valley, Buitenverwachting has earned a reputation for outstanding Sauvignon Blancs and Bordeaux red varietals. A wine tasting here is offered in the historic wine cellar.


Delaire Graff, Stellenbosch


History: In the early 1980s John and Erica Platter, creators of the eponymous Wine Guide, bought a farm nestled between majestic mountains and overlooking the vineyards of Stellenbosch, called Avontuur. It was renamed Delaire, French for ‘from the eyrie’ as it looked down over the most amazing scenery.

Offering: Spectacular views over Stellenbosch’ vineyards from the vantage point of Helshoogte Pass comprise the backdrop to Delaire Graff Estate’s state-of-the-art winery, exclusive lodges, exuberant landscaping, destination spa, and luxury boutiques.

Food: The Delaire Graff Restaurant offers bistro-chic cuisine in a beautiful indoor and outdoor setting. Indochine is their fine dining theatre that serves richly colourful and sumptuous Asian-fusion cuisine.

Wine: Delaire Graff crafts classic reds, a Cabernet Franc rosé, an MCC, and elegant whites, as well as an award-winning Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc blend. Try the outstanding Laurence Graff Reserve red.


Grande Provence, Franschhoek


History: Established in 1694 by Huguenot Pierre Joubert, who fled his hometown in Provence, France to avoid religious persecution.

Offering: This gorgeous heritage wine estate boasts Cape Dutch architecture, luxury accommodations, impeccably manicured gardens, and 47-acres of hardworking vineyards that consistently produce top-performing wines. There is also an art gallery and a sculpture garden with installations by well-known South African artist, Anton Smit.

Food: Casual, family-friendly dining at The Bistro or a sit-down, fine dining feast in the Restaurant at Grande Provence.

Wine: The estate is the home of the award-winning Grande Provence wines (whites, reds, and a range of delicious MCCs) and the Angels Tears lifestyle collection. Try their oyster and MCC pairing.


Lanzerac, Stellenbosch


History: Established in 1692 and named after French General Charles Lanrezac, for whom owner Elizabeth Katharina English allegedly harboured great affection.

Offering: Lanzerac, the birthplace of the first Pinotage wine, stretches out on the foothills of the Stellenberg Mountains in the Jonkershoek Valley. The estate has a winery, tasting room, elegant hotel, luxurious spa overlooking vineyards, and a country-style bar and cigar lounge.

Food: Lanzerac Deli dishes up all-day breakfasts and gourmet lunches; the Manor Kitchen serves sumptuous breakfasts, dinners, afternoon teas, and Sunday lunches; and the Taphuis has a gourmet pub-style menu.

Wine: Lanzerac’s handsome premium range of white and red wines are widely loved and coveted but for something truly special, splash out on a tasting of their Heritage range: limited release flagship wines that honour the estate’s heritage.


Rupert & Rothschild Vignerons, Franschhoek


History: Rupert & Rothschild Vignerons is a partnership formed in 1997 by Dr Anton Rupert and Baron Edmond de Rothschild of France, both of whom have since passed the torch to their respective progeny. Of course, the farm itself dates much further back than that.

Offering: A visit to Rupert & Rothschild should begin with a tasting of their three wines in the estate’s elegant, African-French influenced tasting room. This can be followed by lunch in the restaurant and a thorough admiration of the views.

Food: The Rupert & Rothschild Restaurant is open for devastatingly delicious lunch, Tuesday to Sunday.

Wine: The estate produces three distinctive wines of which their classic red blend, the Classique, is one of the most widely sold and sought after South African red wines.


Steenberg, Constantia


History: Established in 1682 by Catharina Ras who travelled to the Cape from Germany, allegedly dressed as a man to avoid unwanted attention!

Offering: Steenberg Farm is home to a recently renovated five-star hotel and spa, wine tasting centre, and golf course. Cellar Master Elunda Basson recently joined Steenberg as the new talent behind their acclaimed wines.

Food: Two gorgeous restaurants: Tryn and Bistro Sixteen82, both of which fly under the stewardship of Chef Kerry Kilpin.

Wine: It wouldn’t be hyperbole to say that all of Steenberg’s wines are beautiful works of art. The Black Swan Sauvignon Blanc, Steenberg Catharina Bordeaux style blend, Pinot Noir MCC, and Nebbiolo are simply sublime.


Vergelegen, Somerset West


History: Founded in 1700 by Simon van der Stel’s son and successor, Governor Willem Adriaan.

Offering: Vergelegen has magnificent gardens, dramatic views of the Helderberg Mountains, exceptional wines, and a beguiling Cape Dutch homestead. It’s also home to a 60-hectare cultural heritage site and a rare book collection housed in a 200-year old (ex) wine cellar.

Food: Stables at Vergelegen delivers a relaxed, bistro-style breakfast and lunch, while Camphors at Vergelegen, the signature restaurant, is all about superb, fine dining. There are also picnics available.

Wine: Vergelegen has earned more than 200 awards since its first wine production in 1992, including the coveted Chateau Pichon Longueville Trophy twice for the Best Bordeaux Blend at the International Wine & Spirits Competition. The French weren’t happy.