Visiting the Durbanville wine farms is a great Cape Town day trip. Though just a half hour drive from the heart of the Mother City, the Durbanville Wine Valley feels like a world away.
Cape Town is famous for its sunsets but are you familiar with the Cape Town wineries?
Cape Town has several perfect spots for watching the yellow orb’s daily disappearance into the abyss. Some Capetonians believe that the best spot is atop Signal Hill high above Sea Point, while others prefer oceanside sunset views like the one from Camps Bay where the uninterrupted sun creeps into the Atlantic Ocean.
Though we loved the sunsets at both of these prime spots, we experienced one of our favorite Cape Town sunsets in nearby Durbanville. We found the view of Table Mountain, Signal Hill and Lion’s Head against the fiery sky to be extraordinary. Plus, drinking wine sundowners while watching the sky change colors made the experience all the more memorable.
Most tourists on a South Africa dream vacation don’t know about Durbanville South Africa and its magical sunsets. This under-the-radar status may be changing in the near future.
Though better known for sheep farming and wheat production, Durbanville is part of South Africa’s new designation “Wine of Origin Cape Town” along with Constantia, Hout Bay and Philadelphia. A total of 30 wineries populate this new Cape Town wine district including the 12 official Durbanville wine farms.
Cape Town is also near more well-known wine areas including Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl. Though it’s possible to do a day trip at these three wine trails, we recommend an overnight visit due to the sheer quantity of wineries and restaurants.
Thanks to favorable weather conditions marked by hot temperatures and cooling winds, the Durbanville wine farms produce surprisingly good wines. While in Durbanville, we uncovered high quality, low-cost wine prevalent on the Western Cape.
World-renowned wine varietals like Chardonnay, Cabernet, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc grow here along with Western Cape favorites like Chenin Blanc and Pinotage. Even better, many Durbanville wine farms feature tasting rooms and restaurants, making Durbanville an ideal day trip destination for those seeking a unique Cape Town itinerary.
Families can picnic on Durbanville’s rolling hills, soaking up sun on long summer days. Food travelers are more likely to skip the picnic option and instead visit one or more Durbanville wine farms for the opportunity to taste local wine and food.
Day Trip to the Durbanville Wine Farms
Our drive on the N1 to the Durbanville Wine Valley was just long enough time to get the car into cruising mode. Thanks to Cape Town’s morning rush hour traffic, our 30-minute drive morphed into 40 minutes before we arrived in the city’s bucolic northern suburb.
Curious since we had not previously heard much about the Durbanville Wine Trail, we were pleased to find a laid-back community with much to offer for day trippers with a penchant for South Africa’s bounty. In other words, the Durbanville Valley is a hidden gem for food and wine lovers like us.
Recommended Durbanville Valley Day Trip Itinerary
We recommend visiting at least three Durbanville wine farms during a Durbanville Valley day trip to experience the different food travel experiences offered by each wine farm. Try these wineries for a day of food, wine and fun.
Breakfast at Phizante Kraal
Maret van Deventer is the welcoming face at Phizante Kraal. Along with chef husband Juan, she runs the restaurant at the historic wine farm where she confided to us that “Chenin grows like a weed”.
The hot climate and cool Atlantic winds may create certain farming challenges in Durbanville, but the resulting hardy grapes are worth the extra effort. Fourth generation owners André and Ronelle Brink make sure of that.
During our visit, we skipped tasting wine in the sleek tasting room and instead opted to start our Durbanville day trip with breakfast in the vineyard’s restaurant. Located in a converted barn dating back to 1767, the restaurant, with high ceiling beams, a stone floor and modern decorative touches, manages to maintain a level of funky farm rusticity with a sense of refinement. Also, a necessity for breakfast in or near Cape Town, the restaurant serves artisan coffee crafted to order.
Sensing our combination of hunger and curiosity, Deventer chatted with us as she brought out dishes like the Full Farmer with scrambled eggs, streaky bacon, fried mushrooms, cooked tomato and house-made boerewors, a spicy farm sausage. French toast made with mosbolletjie bread and served with salted honeycomb butter soon followed.
As much as we enjoyed the French toast topped with figs grown on the farm, we preferred slathering salted butter directly on to slices of mosbolletjie, a seasonal bread made with fermented wine and flour, so that we could better taste the unique, sweet flavor with hints of anise.
Consider going to Phizante Kraal for a relaxed Saturday brunch. The restaurant is closed on Sundays.
Far from being a gentleman’s farm, Phizante Kraal focuses on farming livestock like sheep and cattle in addition to producing wine. Roosters strut around a large garden where gooseberries grow on bushes next to rows of herbs, lettuce and a variety of vegetables. Even the garden’s pretty purple flowers are edible.
But what about the wine?
We drank glasses of the 2015 Anna De Koning Chenin Blanc with our breakfast, a limited release (our bottle was bottle 925 of 2,000) barrel-fermented wine named after the original owner’s mother. We loved this complex, rich Chenin Blanc and wished we had time to linger over winemaker Thys Louw’s buttery wine, but we had more to see and taste in Durbanville.
Phizante Kraal is located at Groot Phesantekraal Farm, Klipheuwel Way (R302), Durbanville, Cape Town, 7550, South Africa.
Lunch at Durbanville Hills
A 20-minute drive from Phizante Kraal towards Cape Town, the Durbanville Hills Wine Estate is an award-winning wine farm that produces a substantial amount of wine and exports a small percentage to the US (in partnership with U.S. wine importer Terlato), the UK and Asia.
A joint venture with local farmers, Durbanville Hills’ vast production facility provides a vivid contrast to the more intimate Phizante Kraal space. Operating in a vast building as the “largest boutique winery in the world”, Durban Hills processes 8,000 tons of grapes and provides 100,000 wine tastings each year.
Since this wine farm procures grapes from local farmers, the production includes every varietal of the area ranging from mass-produced easy-drinking whites to limited edition Bordeaux blends.
“Food and wine is a very personal taste.”
Chef Louisa Greeff sat with us before her lunch service to share her food and wine philosophy along with a bottle of the winery’s flagship wine, a crisp Sauvignon Blanc. This philosophy involves cooking with local South African flavors plus a “whole lot of butter” and cream.
She collaborates with the Durbanville Hills winemakers when creating the restaurant’s seasonal menus filled with dishes like Smoked Fish Cakes and Grilled Venison Loin. Greeff’s passion for her country’s cuisine temporarily distracted us from the restaurant’s expansive picture windows with views of Cape Town’s major landmarks.
Once we settled down for lunch, we couldn’t stop staring out of those windows. Watching the grapes arrive at Durbanville Hills by the truckload was an impressive scene, but the restaurant’s panoramic views of Cape Town were a veritable showstopper.
During our lunch, we tasted more wine including Chardonnay and Blanc de Blanc while we conquered a plate as food as epic as Table Mountain. Seriously, the plate we shared was big enough for an army. Between the food and the view, the Durbanville Hills restaurant is one of the most popular restaurants in Durbanville.
End your meal with a bowl of Chef Greeff’s meringue-based ice cream. In addition to vanilla pod and dark chocolate, she prepares seasonal flavors that change daily.
Durbanville Hills is located at Tygerberg Valley Rd, Cape Farms, Cape Town, 7550, South Africa.
Dinner at De Grendel Estate
We experienced a stunning sunset in Durbanville at the De Grendel Estate. The lauded restaurant’s vista on the slopes of the Plattekloof Hills provides a memorably colorful show as the sun sets over Table Mountain. Watching the sunset from the quiet hills at De Grendel was like having a private balcony to a sunset with every epic Cape Town peak visible in the distance.
The drama at De Grendel Estate isn’t limited to its stellar sunset views. For us, the drama of this wine farm started as we drove along the winding roads from the front gate to the restaurant situated adjacent to sloping rows of vines and continued as we sipped our first glass of wine – the luxurious MCC Brut, a fruit-forward sparkling wine made with 70% Chardonnay grapes and 30% Pinot grapes.
“78% of the bottle happens in the vineyard.”
Fourth generation owner Sir De Villiers Graaff brings an agricultural background and sense of style to the operation, but he doesn’t do it alone. Cellar master Charles Hopkins blends grapes hand-picked from vineyards in Tygerberg and Witzenberg before storing them in three types of oak barrels – American, French and Romanian. In the restaurant, Chef Ian Bergh creates exquisite dishes with local, hand-churned butter and hyper-local meats and produce.
Don’t hesitate to order wine with dinner. The restaurant charges cellar prices in the restaurant.
We certainly enjoyed our elegant meal at one of the best restaurants in Durbanville with dishes like oysters with maple butter and an organic pork belly that literally melted in our mouths, not to mention a bottle of 2016 De Grendel Winifred, a white blend of wooded Semillon, Viognier and Chardonnay grapes. But it’s the sunset that stands out of the highlight of our Durbanville day trip.
Durbanville Day Trip Logistics
Grape growing season starts in August, with the harvest in the South African summer month of February. We suggest visiting Durbanville during these months.
Once you pick the date, getting to Durbanville is relatively easy. Tourists should rent a car for the day if the plan is to visit multiple wine farms in Durbanville. Otherwise, Uber is a cost-effective, low-stress option.
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About the Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.
Original Publication Date: July 18, 2017