Although the wine industry was established on the slopes of the mountains of the Cape Peninsular in the 17th century, today the largest part of the wine industry is located in the lovely Cape Winelands area, about an hour northwest of Cape Town, where the towns of Franschhoek, Stellenbosch and Paarl are the most notable. This is one of the loveliest areas in the country. The Franschhoek Valley is especially attractive, with its soaring mountains and verdant vineyards and fruit farms. The impressive Huguenot Memorial in Franschhoek to the French immigrants who brought the viticultural skills to South Africa is well worth a visit. The area is renowned for its gastronomy, its many boutique hotels and bed and breakfasts, and its great diversity of artisanal shops. Besides the attractive Mediterranean climate and vegetation, what makes this wine area more interesting than, say, the Napa Valley, is the unique and very attractive Cape Dutch architecture style.
Of the many wonderful wineries to visit, we must mention the Vergelegen Wine Estate which today is one of South Africa’s best producers. It has a very modern and architecturally interesting winery, but its magnificent 18th century Homestead and gorgeous gardens make it a mecca for even those with no interest in a wine-tasting! For the shopaholics, it also has one the best gift shop.