50 Years of the Stellenbosch Wine Routes
The Stellenbosch Wine Routes are celebrating a golden milestone this year; its 50th anniversary. The famed wine routes boast over 200 wine estates and have played a significant role in developing South Africa’s wine tourism industry, no small feat as the sector contributes a massive R7.2bn to the country’s GDP each year.
The Stellenbosch Wine Routes have a storied history having being founded by Frans Malan (Simonsig), Niel Joubert (Spier) and Spatz Sperling (Delheim) in the 1970s. In a bid to change the existing industry, dominated by KWV at the time, which prevented vineyard owners from selling wine under their own labels, as such the threesome came together to form the Stellenbosch Wine Routes in 1971.
Today, half a century later, Stellenbosch is home to over 120 wine producers divided into five sub-routes, namely Bottelary Hills, Greater Simonsberg, Helderberg, Stellenbosch Valley and Stellenbosch Berg. This includes a co-ordinated network of more than 150 wineries, each offering a unique cellar-door experience for the wine-lover and traveller. Each of the 5 sub-routes have their own characteristics in terms of prominent wine styles, climates and geographical location.
As part of the Cape Winelands, Stellenbosch Wine Routes hold the distinction of being one of the most popular tourist attractions in South Africa. This, along with the town of Stellenbosch being a historical, cultural, natural, recreational and educational hub, has resulted in the region being regarded as one of South Africa’s premier tourist and wine destinations.
What’s more, the region’s propensity for innovation and producing high-quality wines has not only made it a wine tourism hub, but an interest for investors around the world all staking their claim in the Stellenbosch Winelands.
The Stellenbosch wine region has received the most wine awards per capita than any of its kind in South Africa, underscoring a link between the quality of wine and successful wine tourism.
Notable Accolades for Stellenbosch Wine Routes
- Named Wine Town of the Year by the Munskänkarna Swedish Wine Club
- Drinks Business Awards: shortlisted for Best Contribution to Wine Tourism
- Cape Winelands Mayoral Tourism Awards: shortlisted Tourism Event of the Year
- Cape Winelands Mayoral Tourism Awards: shortlisted Tourism Event of the Year and Service Excellence
- Three-time winner of the title Best Promotional Body, Drinks International Wine Tourism Awards
- Shortlisted twice as Wine Region of the Year in Wine Enthusiast Magazine
Lanzerac, nestled in the Jonkershoek Valley between the Stellenbosch mountains, is one of the oldest heritage farms in the Western Cape, dating back to 1692 and home to the world’s first bottled Pinotage.