It takes a drive of barely an hour to swap Cape Town for Stellenbosch – the Western Cape town which sits just 30 miles to the east, on the banks of the Eerste River. But it can feel like you have completed a journey of several days, so big is the difference in atmosphere between a city of four million souls and a place that takes life at a distinctly slower speed.
If the name “Stellenbosch” sounds familiar, then, well, it should. The wines which are produced as a result of its fertile soil and Mediterranean-esque climate have long made the town (along with its neighbours in the “Cape Winelands”, Paarl and Franschhoek) a staple on British supermarket shelves.
But if a glass of South African Cabernet Sau-vignon tastes good once it has caught a flight all the way to the UK, it slips down all the better in its birthplace – amid vineyards that spread out in all directions, and with expert vintners on hand to guide you through the process.
The majority of wineries in the Stellenbosch area (including Simonsig, Beyerskloof, Jordan Wine Estate, Hartenberg and J.C Le Roux) are open for tours and tastings – while the prettiness of the setting, with Stellenbosch Mountain rising to a height of 1,156m (3,793m) above, only adds to the enjoyment factor.