Wine and Spirits Options in Cape Town
The Western Cape Liquor Bill, recently passed into law after 8 years in the making, initially appeared to pose a threat to the enjoyment of alcohol in Cape Town. It proposed limiting trading hours of alcohol to 11 PM in restaurants and 2 AM in bars and clubs, a move MEC of Finance and Tourism, Garth Stragan, described as ‘disastrous’. It’s since been amended to allow municipalities to determine the hours for liquor consumption, and it’s thought that Cape Town, being the tourism hub it is, will remain unaffected.
Some of the by-laws of the Bill, however, are set to come into effect. Among them is a law banning the consumption of alcohol in cars or other motor vehicles, even if the drinker is a passenger and even if the car is parked.
The Bill is of particular concern in Cape Town, as the Western Cape is among the top producers of fine wine in the world. The South African wine industry produces about a billion litres of wine annually (putting it in the top 10 producers worldwide), with Stellenbosch, Paarl, and Franschoek, the major valleys that make up the Cape Winelands, being the larger of the two main growing regions in the country. Stellenbosch, just 40 minutes out of Cape Town, is the primary location for viticulture, and Stellenbosch University houses a faculty dedicated to the subject. The Stellenbosch Wine route is a popular, even world-renowned attraction for tourists and connoisseurs.
In addition to being of world-beating quality, South African wine is also generally inexpensive. In March of 2009, 5 of Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s ‘Top Ten Wines For Under Ten Dollars’ were South African, among them Fleur Du Cap’s 2007 Chardonnay and Robertson Winery’s 2008 Sauvignon Blanc.
All wine cultivated in the Western Cape is governed by the Wine of Origins program, which aims to keep wine labeling geographically accurate according to four descending classes – geographical units, regions, districts, and wards. It restricts winemakers from using grapes cultivated outside of their estates. Below are a few details of the most notable wards and estates in and around Cape Town.
Constantia is positioned just south of the city, and, because of its location on the peninsula, is influenced from both sides by the cooling powers of the Atlantic ocean. The tempering of the Valley’s climate allows grapes to ripen slowly over the summer, nourished by rainfalls of up to 1000 mm. With its loamy soil, this area is particularly noted for its Sauvignon Blanc.
The ward includes Constantia Estate, where Governor Simon van der Stel first took up the cultivation of wine. It has since been divided among the so-called ‘Big Five’ wine estates, which include Constantia Uitsig, Buitenverwachting, Groot Constantia and Klein Constantia.
Constantia Uitsig (Constantia Outlook) – At the entrance to this estate you’ll find the Wine Shop, which offers tasting of the estate’s wines during the day, Monday to Sunday, free of charge. Within the estate, you’ll also find three excellent restaurants, a spa and a luxury hotel.
Constantia Uitsig, Spaanschemat River Road, Constantia, Cape Town
Call 021 794 6500, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.constantia-uitsig.com.
- Open Hours: 09:00 to 17:00, Monday to Friday, and 10:00 to 17:00 on weekends and public holidays.
Buitenverwachting (Beyond Expectations) – Buitenverwachting Estate’s wines, red and white, have received six gold and six double gold medals at the Veritas national wine shows over the past 5 years, but the estate’s equally renowned for its food. Buitenverwachting restaurant is consistently rated among the top ten eateries in the country.
Buitenverwachting, Klein Constantia Road, Constantia
Call 021 794 5190 or e-mail email@example.com
- Open Hours: 09:00 to 17:00, Monday to Friday, and 09:00 to 13:00 on Saturdays.
Klein Constantia (Small Constantia) – This estate produces an array of Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, along with small yields of Pinot Noir, Shiraz and Semillon. Their most famous wine is the Vin de Constance, which recreated the flavors of the legendary Sweet Constantia. Cellar tours are by appointment only, so be sure to call ahead.
Klein Constantia Estate, Constantia
Call 021 794 5188 or visit www.kleinconstantia.com
- Open Hours (for wine tastings): 09:00-17:00, Monday to Friday, and 09:00-13:00 on Saturdays.
Groot Constantia (Great Constantia) – Groot Constantia Estate is a National Monument, and under consideration as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Manor House is considered a prime example of Cape Dutch architecture, and adjoins the Cloete Wine Cellar, which has been converted into a museum for brandy and wine culture in the Cape. The Simon’s and Jonkershuis Restaurants overlook the lush grounds, and are ideal for Sunday brunches. Wine tastings cost only R25 per person, and include 5 wines and a souvenir tasting glass.
Groot Constantia Estate, Constantia
Call 021 794 5128 or visit www.grootconstantia.co.za
- Open Hours:09:00-18:00, Monday to Sunday
Stellenbosch is surrounded by the Stellenbosch, Simonsberg and Helderberg Mountains, while also experiencing a tempering influence from False Bay, which maintains average summer temperatures at around 20 degrees Celsius, allowing moist conditions very favorable for wine cultivation. Around 14% of the country’s wine is produced here, about 45 kilometers east of the city.
Stellenbosch is composed of seven wards. They are Simonsberg-Stellenbosch, The Polkadraai Hills, the Papagaaiberg, Jonkershoek Valley, Devon Valley, Bottelary and Stellenbosch-Banghoek. These areas are known for their excellent Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinotage, Shiraz and Merlot, with Simonsberg (and Simonsig Estate, particularly) the foremost among them in terms of international recognition.
One of the founding members of the Stellenbosch wine route, Simonsig is popular with tourist as it is with locals for its incredible range of award-winning Chenin Blancs and Pinotages.
Simonsig is situated northwest of Stellenbosch, on Kromme Rhee Road between the R44 and the R304. Take Exit 39 off the N1.
Call 022 888 4900 or visit http://www.simonsig.co.za
- Open Hours (for tastings): 08:30 to 17:00, Monday to Friday, and 08:30 to 16:00 on Saturdays and Public Holidays.
There are an incredible number of wine estates in Stellenbosch, and the 5 official Stellenbosch wine routes cover the best of them. Visit http://www.wineroute.co.za for details.
Liquor Stores In The City
There are bottle stores in just about every neighborhood. Below is one of the most ubiquitous chains and a couple of establishments that, for various reasons, are special.
This chain has branches all over the city, usually attached to or nearby a Spar supermarket. They stock all the basics when it comes to beer and hard tack, and have a decent wine selection. They’re also competitively priced. There are three in the CBD alone. To find the Tops nearest to you, visit http://www.topsatspar.co.za and use the Store Locator”>http://www.topsatspar.co.za and use the Store Locator.
For more information, call Spar customer care on 0860 313141, or visit http://www.topsatspar.co.za
- Open Hours: 10:00-20:00, Monday to Friday, and 08:00-17:00 on Saturdays
Harley’s is the only liquor store in central Cape Town with a license to do business on Sundays, and also has the latest open hours of any inner-city bottle store. It has a wine section that represents over 45 Estates, along with an extensive selection of French champagne and fine whiskey.
55 Wale Street, Corner of Wale and Buitengracht, Cape Town
Call 021 424 1128
- Open Hours: 10:00-22:00, Monday to Saturday, 11:00-16:00 on Sundays.
Caroline’s Fine Wine Cellar
There are few tongues as seasoned as Caroline Rillema’s, who has sought out the finest flavors in all the major wine regions of the world, and whose taste is well applied in the stocking of her two stores. Caroline’s Fine Wine Cellar offers up a vast selection of Loire, Champagne and Bordeaux along with Italian, Spanish and American wines. They’re also manned by knowledgeable staff capable of excellent, specific recommendations when it comes to finding the right drink for any occasion. For more information, visit http://www.carolineswine.com.
Matador Centre, 62 Strand Street, Cape Town (Parking at Picbel Parkade in Strand Street)
Call 021 419 8984, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
- Open hours: 09:00–17:30, Monday to Friday, and 09:00-13:00 on Saturdays
Secondary Branch (for informal tastings)
Shop KWH 8, Victoria Wharf, V&A Waterfront
Call 021 425 5701 or e-mail email@example.com
- Open hours: 09:00-20:00, Monday to Friday. 09:00-17:00 on Saturdays, 10:00-17:00 on Sundays.