It’s no use denying that the Cape Peninsula is the wine route capital of South Africa. From Constantia Valley’s superb wine estates to the renowned Stellenbosch wine route, the Cape Winelands offer the ideal wine experience. However, not everyone is lucky enough to live in or travel through this region. You might be settled in the Northern Cape and looking for a wine route to spend those lazy Saturday afternoons. Drive South Africa has compiled a list of top 5 wine routes outside the Cape Peninsula when hiring a car that can compete with the famous Cape Winelands any day.

The top 5 wine routes outside the Cape Peninsula include:

1.  Wine not Darling

Although traditionally part of the Swartland, Darling is now a demarcated wine district and home to its own wine route, including five wine cellars, all of which benefit from the cool breezes off the Atlantic Ocean and the long, hot summers to produce some stunning wines with concentrated flavor, depth and intensity.

Darling is only an hour’s drive from Cape Town and one can visit the cellars easily within a day’s trip. If you’re in a hurry, the Vyge valley farmstall, on Route 27, stocks some of the local wines at cellar prices.

2. Orange River Wine Route (Northern Cape)

The most northerly winegrowing area in the Cape, it’s also the fourth largest, totaling in excess of 17 000 hectares. Although it is predominantly a white grape area, reds are being increasingly planted. Varieties grown here are Chenin Blanc, Colombard, Chardonnay, Pinotage, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Tannat, Muscadel (both red and white) and Muscat d’Alexandrie. It’s a good add-on to a tour of the Olifants River Wine Route if you’re generally heading north. In spring the desert blooms and carpets of iridescent flowers stretch to the horizon, making the drive spectacular.

Other attractions here include Augrabies National Park, the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and paddling on the Orange River.

Above: The Orange River boasts a couple of wine estates with a surprisingly large wine supply. Photo: Andre van Rooyen

3. Welcome to the R62 – The World’s Largest Wine Route 

Route 62 is a moun­tain­ous altern­at­ive to the N2 high­way as it crosses a num­ber of moun­tain passes. Along the way, you have the option to stop and to explore any one of the numer­ous small towns loc­ated on, or just off the route includ­ing Barrydale, Ceres and Zoar.

Route 62 meanders through some of South Africa’s most fertile valleys. Thus it is no surprise to have South Africa’s leading wine regions on this route. The Breede River gives life to the Robertson Wine Valley and also to the Worcester Wine Valley. Together these wine valleys produce some of South Africa’s finest – an experience not to be missed by any wine lover.

4. Vaal River Meander is waiting for you

More than twenty venues on the banks of the Vaal River have been selected to showcase the wines from over 50 premier South African Wine Estates.

The annual Vaal River Meander from Meyerton to Vanderbijlpark in Gauteng boasts a unique aspect to it which discerns it from all the other Wine Routes in South Africa, namely the record number of ways in which you can visit this annual winter treat. Be it by car, luxury cruiser, limousine, helicopter, speedboat, vintage car, houseboat, donkey cart or tour bus, this Wine Meander has something for everyone.

In its 9th year of existence, this pleasant winter outing has grown in popularity over the years due to its well-priced structure (R20.00 for tastings of at least 8 different wines) and its close proximity to Johannesburg.

5. Namibia’s Wine Route offers alternative to wine tasting experience

This alternative visit to Namibia explores the developing art of winemaking in the semi-arid areas of Namibia. Follow the route from Windhoek to the Namib Naukluft Mountains, then Swakopmund, Omaruru, Okahandja and return to Windhoek on this 8-day wine tour. The best way to experience this wine region is by car rental, options are available from Windhoek branches.

Above: Imagine sitting here with a bottle of great wine, crackers, cheese and dips. Sesriem, entrance to the Sossousvlei/Deadvlei area. Photo: Meike Raasche

Get to know the wines of this region, especially the town of Omaruru which is home to the Kristall Kellerei, which started operating in 1990. The winery has 4 hectares under 2 different kinds of wines, the Colombard and Ruby Cabernet.

If you want to go on your own adventure through Africa, you might want to have a look at 4×4 hire to find the best vehicle for your adventure.