South Africa Winery Recommendations by California Winemaker Chase Carhartt

South Africa Winery Recommendations by California Winemaker Chase Carhartt. His time traveling and making wine in South Africa has instilled a passion for the region.

Chase Carhartt of Carhartt Vineyard, near Solvang, has traveled the world making wine in different countries, pursuing fresh ideas and methods for the growth of the Carhartt Vineyard brand. In 2013, he stepped in as co-winemaker with his mom, Brooke. In the Spring of 2016, he released a second label for Carhartt Vineyard, “Carhartt Venture,” reflecting his experiences and innovations from traveling the globe – especially his passion for South Africa.

One of Chase’s favorite countries is South Africa. He shares his impressions here:

My time in South Africa has been primarily spent in the Western Cape. I fly into Cape Town, and from there I travel. In my opinion (after visiting four times) the Western Cape is the best part of the country, aside from the far northern safaris.

Jo-Berg and Pretoria are large, dangerous cities in my opinion, and unless you have business there, I would recommend spending your time in the Western Cape and for sure a Safari up north. If you have even more time, I hear Namibia, Mozambique, and Botswana are all radical places to go as well. 

Photo credit: Hu Chen
Photo credit: Hu Chen

Cities and food in South Africa

Cape Town is epic.

Great food, great culture, great surrounding areas. Hike Table Mountain and walk by the sea. Cape Town is a great home base for other areas as well. Everything is reasonably close from there, although it’s cool to stay in surrounding spots as well to get more local flavor. 


PRO TIP: Just outside of Cape Town is this little beach town that no one seems to talk about ever called Scarborough. I went there in 2016 and stayed at a beach retreat. It was incredible – very quiet and beautiful. Limited places to eat but awesome in my book. 

Lion's Head, Cape Town, South Africa. Photo credit: 
Ashley Jurius
Lion’s Head, Cape Town, South Africa. Photo credit:
Ashley Jurius

The “Napa Valley” of South Africa

From Cape Town, you could go to/stay in Stellenbosch. The oldest, most talked about wine region in SA. Basically SA’s Napa Valley. Historical, great wines (although a bit more commercial than other areas; keep in mind this opinion is coming from a winemaker!)

Warmer climate, so Bordeaux varietals do very well there. If you like the larger estates with beautiful grounds, restaurants on site, perfectly manicured driveways, this is the place for you. There are also great places to eat there – it is home to a university so it’s also a college town.

Wineries to visit in Stellenhosch

Stellenbosch, South Africa. Photo credit: Venturists
Stellenbosch, South Africa. Photo credit: Venturists

The “Laguna Beach” of South Africa

Franschhoek also could be a day drive from Cape Town or Stellenbosch, but equally a great place to stay and shop around. Kind of reminds me of Laguna Beach. Although not near the beach, small expensive and cute shops line the streets of this picturesque little town.  

Wineries to visit in Franschhoek

Drive through napa valley
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Town of Hermanus 

This is the town I live and work close by when I am in country. It is a quaint beach town that in October/November is supposedly one of the number one places for whale watching in the world. Awesome little beach neighborhoods line the coast there. Just north lies the wine region called the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley (it means Heaven and Earth Valley in Afrikaans).

It is an extremely beautiful road up through the mountains with vineyards and wineries on either side. I would recommend at least going here for the day. You could stay at an Airbnb in the wine country, stay in Hermanus, or make the trek back to Cape Town (roughly 1.5-2.5 hour drive).

Wineries to visit in Hermanus

Where the cowboys of South Africa live

Swartland is where the cowboys of SA live and make wine. It seems like desert in many parts – small towns, very rural roads, but some of the best wines in the country are made here. I wouldn’t say most people spend a lot of time here because of its rural nature – but if you wanna check it out for a day, there are some great places to taste, and great experiences to be had.

Wineries to visit in Swartland

Many places above require bookings to be made for tastings. I recommend calling ahead to make sure you can get a time. Enjoy!