Guest post by our Cape Winelands tour guide, Pam McOnie:
Durbanville is a small wine region that is very close to the city of Cape Town and is technically part of Cape Town. The area is close to Table Bay and, as such, receives the cool sea breezes, making it an excellent, cool wine region.
The best varietals in this area are the merlot and sauvignon blanc. Prior to 1994, most of the Durbanville area sold its grapes to the KWV, which used the grapes in their premium ranges. As such, this area was quite unknown to the general consumer.
Since 1994, many of the estates have started making their own wines. In the case of Durbanville Hills, it is a partnership between Distell and the local farmers in the region.
Below are some spotlights on my favorite wine estates in the Durbanville area:
Durbanville Hills: This estate boasts one of the most modern and high-tech cellars, as such, it is well worth booking for a cellar tour with them. The tasting room is ultra modern and beautiful. It is interesting to visit them and then to combine it with a visit to a rustic small farm like Nitida. The contrast between the large volume Durbanville Hills and the other, smaller wine estates is tremendous. www.durbanvillehills.co.za
Nitida: This is one of my favourite estates in the Cape. It is really small and rustic. You usually find the winemaker or the assistant winemaker behind the tasting counter. Their sauvignon blanc is fantastic, as are their reds (especially Calligraphy) – in fact all of their wines are great!
It is well worth the trip just to visit Nitida. This region is not really known to foreign tourists, therefore you feel like you get undivided attention when you visit. On the estate is a fine dining restaurant Cassia; it has gorgeous décor and a lovely view.
Bloemendal: This winery has been in transition since it was sold, so it will be interesting to see what happens to it in the future. At this stage the partnership that owns it still has the original owner and winemaker as part of the team, as such the sauvignon blanc is still as delicious as it always was.
At the wine tasting area is a delightful restaurant that offers regional cheeses and meats with traditional homemade bread. The menu now boasts many options, but I still love their cheese platters.
Note that you will see signs saying Bloemendal Restaurant—this is NOT the same one as I am mentioning here. While it is on the same estate, the main restaurant is on top of a mountain and boasts the most amazing views. The restaurant itself is, however, very average. www.bloemendalwines.co.za
SIDE NOTE: You will spot the Hillcrest Estate with its roadside olive kiosk as you drive through this area – STOP! Their olives are excellent and so is their olive oil, so stock up if you can!
I suggest heading to Durbanville in the morning and then going to the Stellenbosch wine region for the afternoon.