Drive along the wine route from Franschhoek to Stellenbosch

Drive along the wine route from Franschhoek to Stellenbosch

If you like wine, it’s impossible to come to the Cape Town region without taking the time to see what South Africans are up to, and to form your own opinion on the question: Is it better than French wine? That’s what we set out to find out.



For those who aren’t keen on wine, the Wine Route is still a great opportunity to visit some of the region’s top priorities and stroll through some beautiful rolling countryside. What is now the wine route was originally a region where the fertile soil was used by the Dutch to produce the foodstuffs needed to supply the ships sailing to Cape Town. These were large agricultural landholdings.

The Dutch, along with some French extradited under the Edict of Nantes to the Netherlands and then to Franschhoek in South Africa, brought grape varieties and began producing wine. Today, Stellenbosch and Franschhoek are the 2 most attractive towns for vineyard visits and wine tasting. We took a trip into the hinterland to discover the vineyards and give you our opinion.

Take a look at our other articles on South Africa to help you prepare for your trip:




Franschhoek which means « the French corner » in Afrikaans, is a pleasant little town with a French flavour and a number of restaurants and terraces. Cape Towners come here at weekends and love to stroll along the main street. The town hosts a small market every Saturday in the center of town. You’ll be able to sample some local dishes and buy a few handcrafted souvenirs.

We went to visit « La Motte vineyard », very nice property by the way. For R50/pers, we offer a tasting of 7 wines, white and red, in a modern restaurant-style setting. You won’t be alone, but with other travelers from the 4 corners of the world (Asia, Europe, USA…) to taste the Grail according to them. The whole thing is very well orchestrated by the team, but it’s impossible to discuss the wines with anyone – we have to deal with “waiters” giving us a well-rehearsed sales pitch. The wine ageing cellars, where the wine barrels are kept, are so clean you could eat off the floor – no smell of wine inside! But what has happened to our old French cellars?

The wines are well made, but the bottles are not cheap for what we would call average quality. If you like red wine, try the Karusa or The Krans because we loved its aromas!

If you don’t have much time to discover South Africa’s great houses, there’s a shuttle bus service in Franschhoek town center that offers you the following services two circuits. You can stop at the vineyard of your choice and leave when you like, or combine several vineyards on the tour. However, the vineyards on offer are the most commercial! Count around R200/p for a duration of between 2h and 7h

Take note that in South Africa, wine tastings are often chargeable, but fairly inexpensive (between R20 and R100 depending on formula and estate).





Stellenbosch, located at the foot of the Jonkershoek nature reserve is larger than Franschhoek. The Old Town district is ideal for nightlife, with its many bars and restaurants. It’s South Africa’s second oldest city, renowned for its Cape-Dutch architecture inherited from the Dutch, its pretty streets lined with centuries-old oak trees, a renowned university campus and, above all, its wine estates lining the pretty wine route. Wines made from pinotage, a cross between pinot noir and cinsault, are the pride and joy of Stellenbosch.

The town’s main points of interest are the Village Museum, Dorp Street, a street lined with magnificent Cape Dutch houses, the Church and the Botanical Gardens. (not a must-see, but a pleasant way to discover plant varieties).

So we went to visit « the vineyards of Vergelegen » but unfortunately we had the same feeling, much too inlaid for our taste!

The locals recommended these lovely estates to us below as:


Indeed, South Africans present their wines in a very commercial way! All the properties are organized like “department stores” where you can stroll around, have lunch, visit the museum and buy wine. This has its charm, but also the disadvantage of being sorely lacking in authenticity in our eyes.

After talking to some locals, and if you’re a wine lover and want to taste the different South African vintages, it’s best to prepare your stay well and stop off at less prestigious but more authentic vineyards on Route 62 between Paarl and Oudtshoorn. It’s a long drive – 5 hours – but the scenery is truly magnificent and authentic. You’ll find good wines here, but without the prestige of the Franschhoek and Stellenbosch vineyards.

For those who enjoy hiking, there are routes ranging from 2 to 6 hours in length Jonkershoek nature reserve





If you don’t want the hassle of searching out the best wineries for tastings, I suggest you book one of the day trips below.


Through the wine streetcar tour of Franschhoek, discover this picturesque valley, its rolling vineyards, beautiful scenery, hospitality, fine cuisine, fine wines and 300 years of history.

➡️ Check streetcar availability and make a reservation


Take a guided vineyard tour through the picturesque town of Franschhoek and its surroundings. Tour by electric bike for a more enjoyable and accessible visit.

➡️ Check electric bike availability and make a reservation


Discover Cape Town’s wine region and wine on this half-day vineyard tour! You’ll stop off at Zevenwacht Wine Estate in Stellenbosch and visit the estate’s cellars and learn more about the winemaking process. You’ll then taste wine from the estate, accompanied by South African cheese.

➡️ Check availability of Stellenbosch vineyards and make a reservation


Finally, you can also combine a day trip with a visit to the Stellenbosch and Franschhoek regions. Enjoy wine tastings with cheese and chocolate, lunch and a tour of the winery and vineyard. You can also stroll through Franschhoek and the historic town of Stellenbosch.

➡️ Check handset availability and book





If you’re looking for a nice place to have lunch or a coffee, we’ve come up with a few recommendations:



  • The Katjiepiering: the botanical garden’s restaurant, offering a fine selection of salads and South African dishes such as bobotie (a minced meat dish au gratin) or bredie (a Cape Town stew specialty).
  • Rest and Peace Restaurant
  • Delaire Graff restaurant
  • Tokara Restaurant
  • Cavalli Restaurant
  • Yaya Café
  • Postcard Café
  • The Meeting place



  • Lust Bistrot & Bakery in Franschhoek
  • The bon vivant restaurant
  • Terbodore Cafe
  • Orangery At Le Lude




To find your accommodation in Stellenbosch, please check availability:


I’m partial to The Stellenbosch Hotel, MolenVliet Vineyards, Delaire Graff Lodges and Spa, Asara Wine Estate & Hotel and Rest at Chabivin.


To find your accommodation in Franschhoek, please check availability:


I’m partial to Boschendal Farm Estate, Maison Cabrière Boutiques Suites, Gite and Lavender Farm Guest House


Remember to book your accommodation in these two cities, as hotels and backpackers are often fully booked all year round.




  • Stellenbosch is a 1-hour drive from Franschhoek and around 45 minutes from downtown Cape Town. Set off in the morning to avoid the Cape Town traffic jams!
  • Find here your cheapest car rental



In conclusion, and to answer the question: is South African wine better than French wine? We’d say, and this is our own opinion, that it’s not better, but there are some very good bottles. My advice would be to choose your wineries carefully beforehand to avoid disappointment and touristy places. Wine is a pallet affair, and each person has his or her own feelings. The idea is to go and form your own opinion in this beautiful setting! Please note that as an accredited bespoke tour creator, I offer to accompany you in the creation of your tailor-made stay in South Africa and create a personalized itinerary tailored to your needs. Please send me an email at :

Before you leave, I also invite you to read our various articles to prepare your trip to South Africa:







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