Three Dramatic Winelands Drives
If you want to see as much of the landscape as possible, try one of these Winelands drives for a terrific and breathtaking overview of the region. Traversing four mountain ranges and encompassing Franschhoek and Stellenbosch, the Four Passes Route will take a full day, including a few stops for wine tastings and lunch. Head out of the city center on the N2, bypassing the turnoff for Stellenbosch (R310) and Somerset West (R44), and ascend the Hottentots Holland Mountains via Sir Lowry's Pass, with breathtaking views of the entire False Bay. Take the Franschhoek and Villiersdorp turnoff, traveling through the town of Grabouw, and traverse the Groenland Mountains via Viljoen's Pass. This takes you through fruit-producing valleys and past the Theewaterskloof Dam. Look for a right turn marked Franschhoek, and ascend the Franschhoek Mountains via the Franschhoek Pass, stopping at La Petite Ferme for tea or lunch with a view. Drive to Stellenbosch via the equally scenic Helshoogte Pass, stopping at Boschendal to tour the historic Cape Dutch Manor House. Take the R310 back to the N2, or overnight in Stellenbosch.
The second drive takes in the Breede River Valley and the historic town of Tulbagh. Take the N1 out of town, past Paarl, and then tackle the majestic Du Toit's Kloof Pass (if you've made a late start, take the tunnel). Once through the Du Toit's Kloof Mountains, you are approaching the Breede River Valley, a less publicized wine-producing region, no less attractive than the more famous Winelands areas; wines produced here have a distinctive berry flavor. Keep an eye out for the turnoff to the right marked RAWSONVILLE, then follow the signs north (left) to Goudini Spa and Slanghoek; stop here to taste the award-winning Noble Late Harvest. This scenic back road meets the R43 in a T-junction -- turn left and follow the signs to the small town of Wolseley before taking the R46 to Tulbagh. Once there, you'll probably want to stay, so consider leaving your options open, or book a room in advance. After lunch you might want to sample one of the Tulbagh Estate's wines before overnighting. Alternatively, head back to Wolseley, this time taking the R303 to Wellington via Bain's Kloof Pass, a spectacular pass created by the father of the celebrated master engineer responsible for the Swartberg Pass outside Oudtshoorn. From Wellington, follow the signs to Paarl or Franschhoek and spend the night, or head for the N1 and back to Cape Town.
The third drive, another full day, takes you along the dramatic Coastal Route to Hermanus, snaking along cliffs that plunge into the ocean, before turning off to sample the wines growing in the Hemel en Aarde (Heaven and Earth) valley.