SA wine itineraries to help you drink your way through 2020
New decade, new me.
But we all know you'll still be you - the one who loves to end the way with a glass - or bottle - of wine. There's always been something about that grapey, fermented bliss that helps melt the world away.
So why not take your wine-nose on the road (but not in hand while driving) with a long weekend to the gorgeous but varying vineyards of South Africa.
When your wine senses are tingling, you need to answer the call with one of these worthy winelands trips.
The wine industry can be a competitive field - but in the Breedekloof district the winemakers are more like old friends that love a bit of banter over each other's wines.
The district stretches around Rawsonville to Slanghoek, up the slopes of the mountains and down to the riverbanks of the Breede River - but it remains separate from the Worcester wine region - something that these winemakers are very quick to correct.
Wine tasting at Deetlefs in Rawsonville. (Photo: Gabi Zietsman)
When it rains in Worcester, everyone will tell you how often it doesn't rain. Known for its 30-degrees-plus weather that births wine from the sun's warm embrace and dry soil, it took everyone by surprise when the heavens opened up on a tour through its winding mountains and valleys.
If you're on the wine trail in this region, make sure to get your hands on any 2017 harvests - while the drought had an undesirable impact on grape yields for wine producers, the struggle created one of their best-quality wines to date. With little moisture and intense sunny days, the grapes that survived had a lot more taste to offer than other years.
Nuy on the Hill. (Photo: Gabi Zietsman)
The spectacular historic towns of Malmesbury, Piketberg and Porterville, and the twin villages of Riebeek Kasteel and Riebeek West, sit at the slopes of the Kasteelberg, making up the Swartland region.
Riebeek Kasteel is known for its food, art galleries and the iconic Royal Hotel's veranda - the perfect spot for a late afternoon g&t. But it's also the ideal base from where to explore the Swartland Wine and Olive Route.
Frank Meaker, manager at Org de Rac. (Photo: Marisa Crous)
While making your own wine from scratch requires a lot of resources and know-how, you don't need to be a winemaker to blend your own wine.
You'll probably even feel more like a scientist, mixing ratios trying to find the key to the elixir of youth - or just a decent wine to drink around a fire.
Your wine blending kit at Middelvlei Wine Estate in Stellenbosch. (Photo: Gabi Zietsman)
Experience Hermanus and the Hemel-Aarde valley, known for its sublime Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, in an unexpected way with walks designed to inform and stimulate all the senses.Walk from mountainside to countryside, crossing farm roads, vineyards and mountain trails while learning about the area’s historical narratives and unique flora and fauna. Plus... there's food and wine pitstops along the way! Heavenly.
The food at Newton Johnson. (Photo: Marisa Crous)
The wine route in Plettenberg Bay may not have the history of the Cape Winelands, but it has fast become a white wine and bubbly hotspot.As one of the smallest wine growing regions in South Africa has over 16 wine farms and vineyards, many of which are family-owned and are boutique wineries, with only ten of them bottling their own wine.
And you can taste it all by horse-carriage!
A horse-ride at Kay and Monty Vineyards. (Photo: Gabi Zietsman)
The Stellenbosch winelands, we all know. Same with Franschhoek. But the Robertson Wine Valley, though home to some incredible big name brands like Graham Beck and Springfield wines and wine festivals like Wacky Wine, this area remains relatively untapped.
The Wine Valley Safari offers safe, reliable, convenient transport in an open-air safari vehicle, allowing you to fully breathe in and discover the Robertson Wine Valley in all its glory.
A weekend in Witzenberg can be quirky, adrenaline-fuelled, traditional, tasty, spicy, romantic, budget-friendly, luxurious and more. And it's always breathtakingly beautiful. From the mountains to the flowers, plants, vineyards, rain, heat and aromas in the air, just a short drive from Cape Town lies a relatively undiscovered hub of pleasures.
Barrel tasting with winemaker, Chris, at Bergsig Estate. (Photo: Marisa Crous)
A different itinerary for the Witzenberg region indulging in tasty goodness, locally sourced products and wine.
Surrounded by the Winterhoek Mountains, you can either splash out in the sunshine during the warmer months, or cosy up with a loved one at a fireplace in the frostier season.
South Africa’s coastal offerings are extensive and Hermanus - in particular - is an exceptional place.
But even as an off-peak retreat the ocean views along its well-constructed paths let you know this place is winter-escape ready. If you're wanting to make the most of a long-weekend or midweek breaks, try this itinerary on for size.