Cape Town: Winelands

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Dutch settlers in the 1680s quickly recognized the viticultural potential of the Cape. Today, its vineyards stretch from suburban Constantia throughout much of the province, known for its restaurants.

SEE Groot Constantia Estate
Main Rd., Constantia, 011-27/21-794-5128,
Some of S.A.'s oldest vineyards are in this leafy Cape Town suburb, 20 minutes from the CBD. Picturesque setting and original Cape Dutch buildings. Simon's Restaurant (Groot Constantia, 011-27/21-794-1143), is great for a breakfast or lunch overlooking vineyards. Or buy a bottle for about $6 and picnic on grassy slopes surrounded by vines. Wine tasting and cellar tour $4.

SEE Museum van de Caab
Solms/Delta Estate, Delta Rd. off R45, Franschhoek Valley, 011-27/21-874-3937,
Recounts the soap opera--like tale of a typical South African vineyard over centuries, and the free and enslaved families whose lives were dedicated to it. The museum also features the moving oral histories of farm workers on video. Call a day ahead and order a picnic lunch ($15) to savor by the lovely wooded river on the estate. Free admission and wine tastings. Drive time: 45 min.

EAT Moyo
Spier, R310, Stellenbosch, 011-27/21-809-1133,
What at first sight seems like Disney Africa is irresistibly fun with great food. Have your face painted while you dine in your own private tree house. There's also live African music, dancing, and a huge buffet of traditional dishes. Reservations are essential. $29 for lunch or dinner. Drive time: 45 min.

EAT Reuben's
Oude Stallen Centre, 19 Huguenot Rd., Franschhoek, 011-27/21-876-3772
A local chef whips up heady dishes from local ingredients, like salmon-and-trout fish cakes and guinea-fowl breasts with tarragon, in his signature bistro on Franschhoek's main drag. The elegant contemporary decor has whimsical accents, like the Warholesque mural that touts Reuben's Condensed Tomato Soup instead of Campbell's. Drive time: 45 min.

DRINK Buitenverwachting
Klein Constantia Rd., Constantia, 011-27/21-794-5190,
The name means "Beyond Expectation." A graceful Cape favorite in the idyllic Constantia hills, best known for its stellar wine list, which includes standouts like Buiten Blanc, a full-bodied sauvignon-based blend. Free tastings. Drive time: 30 min.

DRINK Cabrière Estate
Haute Cabrière, Pass Rd., Franschhoek, 011-27/21-876-2630,
An eccentric winemaker combines heavy-handed pours (try his superbly spicy pinot noir or a sparkling wine) with hysterical anecdotes about his family tree and his bank manager. Bottles opened by showy decapitation with French cavalry saber. 11 a.m.--1 p.m., Sat. Tasting $4. Drive time: one hour.

SHOP Hillcrest Berry Orchards
Helshoogte Pass, between Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, 011-27/21-885-1629,
A family-owned farm that produces luscious jams worthy of cramming into your luggage to bring home. Its best flavors are black currant--raspberry and Morello cherry. The restaurant-tearoom, which has sweeping valley views, also features numerous berry dishes. Drive time: 45 min.

SHOP Huguenot Fine Chocolates
62 Huguenot Rd., Franschhoek, 011-27/21-876-4096
Owned by two previously disadvantaged locals handpicked by a sponsor to receive chocolate-making training in Belgium and seed capital for their choco-boutique. Their creations, especially the champagne truffles and ginger-studded chocolates, are delicious. Drive time: 45 min.

PLAY Dewdale Fly Fishery
Robertsvlei Rd., Franschhoek, 011-27/21-876-2755,
Learn the fine art of fly-fishing in the trout-stocked rivers. Professional anglers are patient with beginners and can help hone existing skills. A terrific excuse to soak up the Alpine-like setting. $18 for a full day of fly-fishing, includes rentals and instruction. Drive time: one hour.

SPLURGE Santé Winelands Wellness Centre
Simonsvlei Rd., R45, Paarl-Franschhoek Valley, 011-27/21-875-8100,
Ritzy wine-valley spa that pampers the body and spirit with grape-inspired tonics. Its signature vinotherapy treatments include a "chardonnay cocoon wrap" and a "Shiraz grape--seed scrub" (both $43). A full day of vinotherapy is $200. Drive time: 45 min.


Some say there's more slang in South African English than there is English. A few valuable terms to know:


  • Cheers bottoms up, good-bye, or thank you

  • Lekker nice

  • Jol a party or good time

  • Just now in a little while

  • Now now not right now, but sooner than just now

  • Now at this moment

  • My China endearing term for a friend or mate

  • Shame it's a shame, or oh, how sweet

  • Braai a backyard BBQ--don't be surprised if you're asked to bring your own meat and drinks

  • Dop an alcoholic drink

  • Robot traffic light

  • Stopstreet a stop sign
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