Three perfect post-lockdown escapes to the Cape (yes, there's wine)
Whether you fancy a quick afternoon jaunt or an overnight stay, here are some suggestions for great breakaways near Cape Town focused on fresh air and fine wines
Some things we've definitely missed during these long, hard months of lockdown are travel and wine. SA's move to Level 2 means we get both of them back. So what could be more perfect for a quick getaway than a dash to the Cape, whose vineyards are some of the best in the world?
With numerous estates dotted across the landscape, here are just three suggestions for you, depending on how much time you have:
Make a weekend of your wine-route escape with an overnight stay on the Spier Estate. Just 45 minutes from Cape Town International Airport, Spier makes for an easy-access gateway for exploring the Stellenbosch winelands.
The expansive farm is a charming locale made up of the hotel, wine cellar, spa, a number of restaurants, and artworks produced by the community. The hotel rooms range from the basic signature room to fancy suites that include a sitting room.
If it's still cold when you go, you'll surely enjoy the in-room fireplace, which makes for a romantic backdrop while you snuggle into some wine.
For a casual meal, head over to the Farm Cafe, a shop perfectly suited to creating your own picnic as you pick from the deli produce that includes cured meats, cheeses, fresh bread and, of course, wine.
In the evening, head over to the Vadas Smokehouse for a tapas-style menu inviting you to sample a number of dishes for what is truly a gastronomical escape. Try the truffle chips, smoked beef brisket and smoked bone marrow flatbread. You won't be disappointed.
Also perfect for social distancing are its variety of self-guided walks, which will take you through indigenous gardens and past historic buildings such as the 1822 Manor House. A bonus is that you can download the VoiceMap app and choose between two audio tours on your smartphone.
Spier is particularly great if you are an art lover as it has a collection of artworks. Look out for the Mosaic Kraal, an installation of different works that include those produced by the Spier Artisan Apprenticeship Programme. The programme offers employment-based training in mosaic and ceramic art to the local community.
If you have only a day to spare for a winning wine experience, consider heading to the quaint town of Franschhoek, about 90 minutes from Cape Town.
A charming option for exploring is the famed Franschhoek Wine Tram, whose hop-on, hop-off tour offers guests the opportunity to enjoy a number of stops while rolling through the valley on a vintage-style open-air tram - quite the fun way to learn about some of the wine estates.
The hop-on, hop-off ticket costs R260 per adult, but if you are looking for a curated experience, that will set you back R1,150. The company can also help with airport transfers.
The company said this week it was preparing to reopen under the current health-and-safety guidelines. Bookings are open from September 5.
If you've only got a few hours to experience a wine estate, Meerendal is just 27 minutes outside Cape Town in the Durbanville area, with picturesque surrounds and an interesting history.
The vineyard dates back to 1714 when 60,000 vines were planted on the farm. It was also one of the first 14 farms in SA to be awarded wine-estate status, in 1973.
The estate has a farm stall and a fine-dining restaurant called Il Tesoro, but if you are looking for something quick, try Carlucci's for a delicious pizza, sandwich or breakfast.
Families, note that the estate has a kids' play area with a jungle gym set up opposite the food area, which means you can watch your little ones easily. And if you do have a few days to spare it also offers luxury accommodation in an old Cape Dutch house.