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Where to enjoy fine dining when visiting South African wine estates

While South African wines are starting to get the global recognition they deserve, it is still a little known fact to most travelers that the winelands in the cape region in South Africa are a culinary walhalla. Most of the best fine dining restaurants can be found at one of the famous vineyards. I’ll give you my personal favorites, but limited it to 5 as otherwise you would be reading for days. The Restaurant at Waterkloof First up is this restaurant in the sky (as they like to call it locally) which has won numerous award ever since it opened. It was voted the number 1 restaurant in South Africa last year, and it has every right to be proud of that as they work hard to deliver the best of the best on a daily basis. Chef Gregory uses local ingredients and with his French heritage turns them into true masterpieces. Make sure you leave some space for dessert as they are real gems. Of course, being located on top of a hill, overlooking False Bay and the Schapenberg mountain range, the views are equally impressive. To top it all off, Waterkloof is a biodynamic vineyard with some amazing wines. My personal favorites? Their Waterkloof Sauvignon Blanc and of course the Astraeus MCC, cause let’s be honest, we all like a nice glass of bubbly. Terroir at Kleine Zalze Ever since it opened in 2004 it has been a success story. Located in Stellenbosch, the capital of the winelands you’ll find this restaurant at the Kleine Zalze vineyards. Underneath some ancient oak trees you’ll be able to enjoy some of the amazing dishes in a refined but yet relaxed atmosphere. As chef Michael likes to say: “classic pairings, intense depth of flavor and the perfect sauce characterize our constantly evolving chalkboard menu”. As an avid traveler global trends often reflect in the menu. It clearly works as the restaurant has been nominated almost every year among the top 10 best restaurants in South Africa. And the wines are an added bonus which you can’t miss out on. Make sure you try the Family Reserve Chenin Blanc, you can thank me later. Chef’s Warehouse at Beau Constantia This place is all about the experience and having fun to indulge in gourmet food. Proof of that is one of their signature experiences, being tapas for 2. You should come here, not only for the food, but also for the views. Located high up in Constantia, it is hard to find a better location with a better view of the surrounding area. The contemporary architecture blends in surprisingly well with lush greens and vineyards. A big fire in the region destroyed the farm in 2000 so they hard to start from scratch once again. But they have done such a remarkable job and the amazing food and vineyards are a testament of what you can achieve when you put your mind to it. If you are unable to secure a spot in the restaurant, make sure you visit the wine bar and try some of their amazing wines. Don’t forget to include the Beau Constantia Stella, my favorite of them all. Camphors at Vergelegen Located within the Vergelegen wine estate (one of the most prestigious estates from South Africa) you’ll find Camphors. It is housed right in front of the historic homestead which dates back to the 1700’s, and overlooks the expansive lawns and lush gardens in which you can walk around to enjoy the beauty of this estate. The menu is very seasonal and it has a modern approach to compliment the amazing wines which are produced by Vergelegen. Being among the top restaurants in South Africa, it also has a strong focus towards sustainability, winning several awards with it. After all the culinary indulgence, you might want to get some exercise by walking through one of the 17 formal gardens. Also one of the reasons why Vergelegen has been nominated as a serial World Heritage Site. Want to know my favorite wine of the estate? Without a doubt the Vergelegen V. Top of the range but rightfully so. Overture Restaurant at Hidden Valley Wines Opened in 2007 and ever since the beginning it was a success. Chef and owner Bertus Basson isn’t only a legend on local television, he also cooks some of the most wonderful food. The modern interior is the perfect place to enjoy all of the beauty that is presented on your plates. If you do happen to take your eyes off it, you’ll be able to enjoy some stunning views. Hidden Valley wines are also farmed in accordance with ecologically sensitive farming practices, and the care they take to produces their wines, reflects in the care that is taken to make every dish as amazing. Little known fact is that Hidden Valley wines is currently 1 of only 39 WWF conservation champions. More than enough reasons to go there and experience it. Try a bottle of Hidden Gems, and take it all in. Have you tried any of these fine dining restaurants yet? If so, what was your experience. Or do you have some hidden gems which we need to try out next time we’re in the winelands?

Kristof Eyckmans

Kristof Eyckmans is a travel writer from Antwerp, Belgium. He’s been living all across the globe and while he loves wildlife and nature, he can still enjoy a good urban jungle.

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  1. It’s so interesting that the restaurant at Kleins Zalze is called Terroir. For winemakers, farmers and food producers the Terroir is such a significant concept. I find it hard to define Terroir in a single word or phrase. Earth? Land? Soil? Landscape? They all seem so small and inadequate. Anybody out there got any ideas?

    1. I agree that it’s hard to define terroir and I’m not sure that I can help very much. For some communities, especially winemakers, their close relationship with the terroir is almost like a religious experience.

      There’s often a sense that it is a two way relationship that has existed for centuries. Generation after generation have worked in harmony with the land to make the most of it.

      Not sure whether that gets any closer to a definition. Maybe it would take a book to answer the question. On that subject it would be fascinating to see if the definition changes from country to country.

    1. Many wine farms in the Cape region used architecture to stand out of the crowd, while still respect the surrounding landscape.
      As you said, it is as impressive as the wines and food you’ll find in this region.

  2. The views at the ‘restaurant in the sky’ and the Chef’s Warehouse are gorgeous, it must be so refreshing to dine and enjoy the rolling greenery and stillness of nature. All too often eating out means a lot of hustle and bustle in the middle of a city, so all of these places would be a breath of fresh air, quite literally! The only downside would perhaps be driving to some of these locations if they’re off the beaten path and not being able to enjoy a few glasses of wine, but skipping the vino for the glorious views seems more than worth it to me.

    It’s amazing to hear that Hidden Valley wines are so passionate about adhering to good ethics and farming practices, and being a WWF conversation champion certainly sets them apart from the crowd. When drinking wine, not many would consider such aspects of its production or the ethics and eco-friendly principles of the producer. Hopefully this continues to change so more consideration is given by consumers when choosing a wine brand.

    1. All of these restaurants have easy access, and sometimes the drive itself is worth the effort.

      Many wine farms try to cultivate while still respecting the land and farming practices. As you said, Hidden Valley is doing an amazing job, though Waterkloof (and many others) are on an equal level.
      And the best part of it all…it doesn’t have any negative influence on the quality of the wines or food :)

  3. Location, location, location – The Restaurant at Waterkloof certainly has s fabulous location going for it. Stunning views plus superb food and wines. I can’t see it being knocked off its number one spot anytime soon.

    1. I agree that the location is important and Waterkloof has one of the best ones out there. Was also one of the reason’s why we celebrated our marriage there :)
      But the Cape winelands have so many beautiful locations which often can be enjoyed from one or another vineyard, so I guess the best thing is to try them all…

  4. Overture restaurants at Hidden Valley Wines is truly mesmerizing. I took my wife on our 4th marriage anniversary and she enjoyed it very much.

    1. Nice to hear you enjoyed it. Did you also try any of the other restaurants?

  5. I’m new to A Luxury Travel Blog and I’ve just come across this post while flicking through the back pages. A friend whose luxury travel mad recommended the site to me. These places are so, so luxurious. Great design. I must remember them for my next visit to South Africa. I’m a big fan of fine dining and wine!!!

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