Our Guide to Family-Friendly Wine Tasting in South Africa
OK, we realise that family-friendly wine tasting in South Africa may not actually sound very family-friendly on the face of it, but we promise, it is a genuinely fun thing to do while visiting South Africa with kids.
If you’re a wine buff (or simply enjoy drinking a glass of wine), you will no doubt want to head to the wine regions to sample some of South Africa’s fine wines. The fact that most of the wine estates have much more on offer than just ‘wine tasting’ though, means that the whole family can enjoy the experience along with you.
Many of the South African wine estates have realised that more and more families are travelling these days and have ensured that a visit to their winery is family-friendly. They have created play areas for the kids, have kids’ menus at their restaurants and may even offer wine tasting for kids.
How can wine tasting be family-friendly?
How many times have your kids wanted to have a sip of what you are drinking? Our boys are fascinated with our ‘mummy and daddy drinks’! We love visiting wineries and were so excited to find out what many of the wine estates in South Africa offer wine tasting for kids too.
If you choose the South African wine estate carefully, they will have special grape juice for kids so that they can get in on the activity too. Some go out of their way to really get kids involved by given them a grape juice tasting activity sheet. All of them have excellent playgrounds and some of them have amazing picnic lunches which is another reason why wine tasting in South Africa can be a very family-friendly affair.
If you like the sound of this, read more on the most family-friendly South African wine estate picnics. The picnics are unique to each estate. They will use fresh, local, artisanal produce and can be complimented by a bottle of one of their many wines.
Our kids were very keen to have a go at a wine tasting themselves, so we set off to find the most family-friendly wine estates in South Africa
For further reading on the wine regions of South Africa, Lonely Planet and Rough Guides have great guides.
Where are the South African wine regions?
The wine regions of South Africa are located mostly in the south west. The main regions are Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Paarl and Robertson. The scenery in these areas is some of the most beautiful in the whole of the country and they are worth a visit just for that reason. Stellenbosch and Franschoek in particular stand out with soaring peaks, rows and rows of vines, white Cape Dutch buildings and jacaranda lined roads.
If you’re based in Cape Town, it’s less than an hour to Stellenbosch, Franschhoek or Paarl by car and can easily be done on a day trip. Robertson is a little further so you might want to consider finding accommodation around that area. The wine regions are so beautiful, however, so we would highly recommend staying there anyway and really exploring a bunch of the wine estates at a more leisurely pace.
**Disclaimer – drive safely**
Before we cover our recommendations on the best family-friendly wine estates, we just want to remind you that if you are going to sample the wines, pick your designated driver, or take an organised tour with a driver/guide or even book an Uber.
These are our top South African wine estate recommendations for family friendly wine tastings. We have been to all of them and have thoroughly enjoyed all they have to offer. Most wine estates will have something for the kids, but these are the best in terms of the variety and amount of things they offer. They are grouped by location.
Stellenbosch Wine Farms
Stellenbosch is probably the most well-known wine area in South Africa and home to many of the older, traditional wine farms. It’s about a 50 minute drive from Cape Town
Warwick Wine Estate
Warwick Wine Estate is a great option for families, especially if you want to enjoy a picnic. The grounds are perfectly manicured and picnics are taken on the lawn with views of the Simonsberg mountains. They have a couple of lovely play areas for the kids and in the summer months, the kids are sure to want to play in the water feature so remember to bring a change of clothes or their swim suits.
Spier Wine Farm
Spier has so much to offer families. They offer a proper ‘wine tasting’ experience for kids with two different grape juice to taste, a grape juice tasting activity sheet and a ‘lucky packet’. This is more than enough to keep our boys entertained for a while but they also have indoor and outdoor play areas and activities such as their Eagle Encounter. They have segway tours and restaurants and beautiful picnics.
Franschhoek (meaning ‘French Corner’ in Dutch), is a little further east of Stellenbosch and it’s just over an hour from Cape Town to Franschhoek. Franschhoek is one of the oldest towns in South Africa and is dominated by the surrounding mountains and beautiful Cape Dutch architecture. There are some lovely Franschhoek restaurants, including some on the Franschhoek wine farms.
One of the best restaurants in Franschhoek is La Petite Ferme Franschhoek and we had a truly memorable meal, although the kids might disagree because they didn’t have a kids’ menu!
One great plus about visiting the wineries around Franschhoek is the wine tram (yes, that is a thing!), meaning you can enjoy a day out drinking wine without worrying about driving home.
Allee Bleue Wine
The wine tasting at Allee Bleue itself is a little formal and not very interesting for the kids, but the great thing about Allee Bleue wine estate is the restaurant area where you’ll find a great play area for the kids with climbing apparatus and a bouncy castle. When we went, they had a sprinkler on and it was a very hot day so you can imagine what the kids got up to.
The area is large and enclosed so the kids can play happily after lunch while you sit and relax. Allee Bleue is also on the Franschhoek Wine Tram route (purple) if you don’t fancy driving. It’s a fun hop-on hop-off tour that stops off at various different wine estates, depending on the colour route you take.
Rickety Bridge Winery
At Rickety Bridge the kids can enjoy the playground and you can watch from the wine tasting terrace. After your tasting, you might want a game of boules. We got there early when there was nobody around which we would recommend doing as it is on most of the wine tram routes and it does fill up with visitors.
There are lots of lovely Franschhoek hotels but we stayed in a beautiful 2 bedroom self-catering chalet at Rose Cottages. It was tastefully decorated in a French farmhouse style complete with a lovely roll top bath. It was set on a small vineyard and were surrounded by mountains and vines. In the mornings, there was usually a cloud layer draped over the mountains and it was spectacular to walk amongst the vines before heading out for the day.
The Franschhoek weather can be warmer and drier than other wine areas in the summer months so the pool was very welcome. The cottage is a little way out of Franschhoek town centre so you would need a car.
Somerset West Wine Farms
Somerset West is a little further from Cape Town than Stellenbosch but you can get there along the N2 which is very quick. It should only take around 35 minutes.
Vergelegen is one of our favourite wine estates for an all-round family experience. It was founded in 1700 and not only does it have a beautiful estate with spectacular grounds, it produces some top class wines.
The main attraction for families has to be the grounds. You can wander round and enjoy mature gardens with 300 year old camphor trees and colourful flowers, water features. The playground area is excellent and you can sit and relax watching the kids play whilst also enjoying a fabulous view of the Hottentots Holland mountains in the background.
The Stables is a lovely family-friendly restaurant offering breakfast and lunch or you have the option of a family-friendly picnic in the enchanted camphor forest.
Paarl Wine Farms
The Paarl wine region is located about 60 km northwest of Cape Town and about a 50 minute drive. It’s home to some of the best known wine estates in South Africa.
Fairview Wine Farm
Fairview is actually a working farm with goats and is famous for its cheeses. When you do a wine tasting here, you get to pair the wines with a selection of their own cheeses. The goat tower is worth checking out. The kids loved seeing the goats climb it!
There’s so much to love about a visit to Spice Route wine farm. The big draw for our kids were the play areas and a gelato cart selling the most enormous (and delicious) ice cream cones. They’re so big, you can squeeze in a wine tasting while they’re quietly eating their ice creams. It’s a very relaxed affair as you can do your wine tasting outside on the terrace and enjoy views of Table Mountain and the Simonsberg mountain range while watching the kids play on the expansive lawn.
We didn’t actually do a wine tasting at Under Oaks as we came for the wood fired pizzas which were excellent. It’s a great place to visit for lunch if you’ve done enough wine tasting as they have a large grassy area with picnic tables and a playground. The kids even get their own mini picnic table and the views from your table are spectacular. There’s a paddock with horses who like to say hello if you wander over to them. They do also have wine tasting.
We stayed at a beautiful little cottage on the Oude Denneboom wine farm. The 2 bedroom cottage was very secluded and had its own little plunge pool and a large fireplace. There is wildlife everywhere there. We would wake up in the morning and see zebra walking past our terrace. Walking around the grounds was encouraged and we loved taking early morning walks before heading out for the day.
We had a lovely few days staying here. It was so peaceful and we can highly recommend it for families. The cottage is a little way out of Paarl town centre so you would need a car.
Robertson Wine Valley
The Robertson Wine Valley is the furthest wine region from Cape Town and about a 2 hour drive. It’s definitely worth finding accommodation here and having a little more time to explore the area.
We found Van Loveren quite commercial but they provide grape juice for the kids to keep them entertained. They also have a lovely garden for the kids to explore. If you have slightly older chilren, there’s a 7.5 km hike around their estate or a shorter birding route along the Breede River where you might have the chance to spot a fish eagle.
Bon Courage is a lovely little wine estate. The whole experience felt similar to the way it used to be when we first visited South Africa 20 years ago. They will bring the bottles out to you and leave them with you so you can sample at your leisure. We sampled a few different wines while the boys had some lunch.
This place is not really on the radar so we had the place completely to ourselves except for their little dog who hung around to play with the boys. Unlike many of the larger wine estates above, the wine tasting was free. We really enjoyed their wines and bought a few bottles to drink during the rest of the trip.
Robertson Wine Valley Accommodation
We stayed at AfriCamps Kam Bati at Swellendam for this part of our road trip. We love glamping and this was a great experience for the kids. The safari-style tent was perfect with a double bedroom and another smaller one with bunk beds, a bathroom and a kitchen. We really enjoyed having our meals out on the large decked area, enjoying the views. The tents were spaced quite far apart so we didn’t feel overlooked at all. It was basic but quite luxurious at the same time.
There was a fantastic natural swimming pool for the kids with small slides and a separate pool with larger slides. We also enjoyed games of mini golf and the boys loved the playground. The location of Kam Bati feels quite remote and you will need a car. Make sure to stock up on your supplies before you get there as the closest supermarket is 20 km away (although they can supply welcome packs or BBQ packs at an extra charge). It’s a beautiful location right by a river with rope swings.
Traditional South African Vineyards
In addition to searching out the family friendly wine estates, we have also been to a few of the more traditional vineyards for some straight forward wine tasting. Something you might want to consider with all this wine tasting is who will be the designated driver and if nobody wants to, then you can arrange a tour – or spit!
Here is a list of some of the famous but more traditional wine estates in South Africa. We have visited them all on various trips to South Africa with and without the kids and really enjoy their wines. Please note there is a charge for wine tasting in most wine estates these days.
- Boekenhoutskloof, Private tastings on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11 am. Must book ahead.
- La Motte, Open Monday to Saturday 9am to 5pm. Closed on religious holidays.
- Meerlust, Open Monday to Friday 9am to 4pm, Saturday 10am to 2pm.
- Rustenberg, Open Monday to Friday 9am to 4:30pm, Saturday 10am to 1:30pm.
- Rust en Vrede, Open Monday to Saturday 9am to 5pm and Sunday 10am to 4pm
- Nederburg, Open Monday to Friday 8:30am to 5pm, Saturdays 10am to 2pm.
- Vrede en Lust, Open daily 10am to 5pm except Good Friday, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day
Cape Town area vineyards
Staying in Cape Town and not wanting to travel too far to visit a South African vineyard? There are a few options that are closer than the main wine regions
- Groot Constantia, Open 9am to 5pm daily.
- Zevenwacht, Open Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5pm and Weekends and Public holidays 9.30am to 5pm
- Vergelegen, Open daily 9:30am to 4.30pm except for Christmas, Good Friday and Workers day.
It is always worth asking locals where they think is worth a visit. You might discover a true gem.
If you have any questions about family friendly wine tasting, please do get in touch.
If you’re looking for accommodation in the South African winelands, take a look at Booking.com which has a great selection of accommodation to suit every budget.
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