October 1, 2015 | By RJS Craft Winemaking
If you are as passionate about travelling as you are about making wine, Stellenbosch should be on your travel bucket list. This hilly town in South Africa, established in 1679, has been producing wine for hundreds of years, and gained its reputation as a premier wine destination with the inception of the renowned Stellenbosch Wine Routes. In fact, the region is so large it is broken down into sub-routes housing over 150 wineries. As you might imagine, exploring without a plan, while always an adventure, would be daunting for even the most seasoned wine lover. Here are a few tips on how to navigate this historic viticulture town.
Planning Your Visit
The routes, broken down solely by geographical location, are as follows: Bottelary Hills, Greater Simonsberg, Helderberg, Stellenbosch Valley and Stellenbosch Berg. Expect to visit about five to six estates per day. Most visitors find a tour guide well worth the money not only for providing knowledge and personal recommendations but also for discouraging you from staying in one place too long—something that happens to travelers all too often once the red starts flowing.
Top Picks for Your To-Drink List:
Vergelegen Estate, Helderberg
Why you should visit: From diverse cuisine to its stunning gardens, Vergelegen is sensory overload in the best possible way. Sip a
vintage Cabernet Sauvignon at Camphors—the award-winning, adults-only restaurant or take an intimate stroll through one of seventeen
Rustenberg Estate, Greater Simonsberg
Why you should visit: If Vergelegen is one of South Africa’s most famous estates, Rustenberg is its modest, underrated counterpart. As one online reviewer stated, the estate offers visitors, quite simply, “a beautiful setting and some seriously good wines.” Nestled below Simonsberg Mountain, Rustenberg excels in diverse red and white varietals with a “no set formula” mentality.
Rust en Vrede Estate, Helderberg
Why you should visit: The better question might be, “Why shouldn’t you visit?” Rust en Vrede is one of Stellenbosch’s oldest wine farms, specializing solely in full-bodied reds such as Shiraz, Cabernet, and Merlot. The property emanates sophistication, from the French restaurant to its magnificent landscape. If that isn’t reason enough, visit on the basis of Rust en Vrede’s nomination as the first South African red wine in the Top 100 Wines of the World.
Rich in history and with endless styles of wines to appease locals and tourists alike, Stellenbosch is truly a viticulture mecca. It takes at least a full week to experience all it has to offer, making the region all the more appealing.
Sub-region: RJS Craft Winemaking
Why you should visit: Well, let’s face it, Stellenbosch, South Africa is really far away. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the grape varieties grown in this historic region. You can try one of our very own South Africa wine kits from your local RJS Craft Winemaking retailer:
Cellar Classic Winery Series South Africa Sauvignon Blanc
Grand Cru International South Africa Chenin Blanc Style
Grand Cru International South Africa Pinotage Style
*Photos courtesy of Rustenberg Wines