Wine bars are the new vibe in Stellenbosch’s historic centre, where Malu Lambert enjoys a relaxed tasting of local wines, taking in the unique atmosphere and excellent fare of each bar en route.
With more than 11 different wine bars – and counting – to choose from, Stellenbosch now brings the estate experience to you. These diverse, energetic spaces are conveniently located in the heart of the historic town, where it is easy to walk from one to the next. Presenting a real taste of the region, they offer Stellenbosch wines by the glass, tasting flights and fine food.
One of the front-runners of the Stellenbosch wine bar trend, this buzzing little venue is owned by Bartinney Wine Estate and focuses on sustainably produced, small-batch wines and French Champagne, as well as wines from its own estate. Though it is situated in central Stellenbosch, it’s easy to feel transported to Bartinney’s Helshoogte perch thanks to the panoramic view as seen from the estate printed in large format across one wall. Strips of oak from used wine vats have been used to panel the other walls, fynbos is a recurring theme throughout and, hanging from the ceiling, a light installation crafted from old Sauvignon Blanc vines provides a touch of drama. Savour some bubbles while enjoying the selection of meat and cheese boards as well as tasty bar-style tapas.
5 Bird Street
The prince of pinotage, Beyers Truter, has always brought people together and the new Beyerskloof Wynbar is as warm and inviting as its namesake. Located in the heart of Stellenbosch, it’s been dubbed ‘the second home of Pinotage’. The full range of Beyerskloof wines is available, as well as a list of wines charmingly named ‘Oom Beyers se Pelle’ – wines made by Beyers’s friends. A full menu offers fare to accompany the wine; from pizzas, try the ‘Mr Pinotage’ with its house speciality of ‘pinotage onions’. There are also grills, burgers, antipasti and braaibroodjies, all perfectly suited to pairing with the patriotic grape.
19 Ryneveld Street
“Stellenbosch is the capital of our wine industry, where visitors from all over the world come to experience our wines above all else,” says Jean Engelbrecht, founder of the Stellenbosch Wine Bar. He is also the proprietor of the Stellenbosch estate Rust en Vrede, as well as a host of affiliate brands: Stellenbosch Reserve, Guardian Peak, Afrikaans, Donkiesbaai and Cirrus. These wines are all available to enjoy in the comfortable setting of his laid-back wine bar. “We’re in the business of getting people to drink wine and we would like visitors to hop from one wine bar to the next to experience the variety and quality that our wine industry has to offer.” Wide-open windows afford a view of the busy street scene. There’s alfresco seating too, under the ancient oak trees that line Andringa Street. The seasonal light menu has a definite Italian influence.
Corner Andringa and Church streets
Brampton Wine Studio is not just a wine bar; it’s actually unique in that it is the cellar door as well as urban winery of the brand. Here you can taste Brampton’s full range and enjoy the wine studio’s wide selection of flatbreads, wraps, burgers and salads, as well as delicious wine bar snacks and tapas crafted to share by the exciting pop-up, Vagabond Kitchens. Also on offer is its own Brampton Cape Lager fresh from the tap. This is where to come for a high-energy and eclectic crowd, as well as for the refreshing wines, of course. Revolving events include quiz nights, live music and ‘unusual’ tasting sessions.
11 Church Street
A joint venture between Le Grand Domaine and Stellenview Premium Wines, Le Grand Domaine Enoteca is the home of Le Grand Vin Stellenbosch wines. The super-chic space straddles the line between old-world elegance and contemporary flair, offering outside seating too under the shade of the oaks. At this combination of wine emporium, wine bar and bistro you can sip on a glass of wine, shop for a bottle or two (larger orders are taken online) or wine and dine to your heart’s content. The wines on offer include The Pledge as well as Stellenview Wines and its subsidiary labels: Kruger Family Wines, Kenzo Faure Kruger Wines, Stellenview Reserve, Great Five Reserve and Cape Five.
7 Church Street
This contemporary restaurant and bar is a celebration of Stellenbosch and offers more than 130 wines, bubblies and beers from the region. There is ample space within the labyrinthine interior, with private rooms leading off to an internal courtyard, and local art arrests the eye throughout. Discover the wines by the glass or try one of the tasting flights of six. There is also a regular, revolving top 10. Ask the knowledgeable staff for recommendations. Local cuisine features strongly on the menu, with the aim of giving guests ‘a real taste of the area’ in both food and wine. There are lighter meals, such as cheese and charcuterie boards, small plates for enjoying while sipping, and fresh West Coast oysters. Look out for live music nights as well as special occasions. In the mood for a road trip? There’s also a branch in Hermanus.
13 Ryneveld Street
Situated in an off-street courtyard on Dorp Street, this wine bar and bistro has charm in abundance, so grab a seat under the gnarly branches of the oldest fruit-producing vine in Stellenbosch. You can quench your thirst from one of the most interesting lists of wine by the glass I’ve seen, and satisfy your taste buds from a tapas menu that bears owner Bertus Basson’s signature style. For a special occasion, a private conservatory that seats a maximum of eight people is available.
84 Dorp Street
One of the longest running wine bars in town, Jardine Food and Wine Bar is owned by renowned chef George Jardine. Stroll down Andringa Street to find it and you’ll be warmly welcomed into this cosy hideaway. With seating both inside and out, expect a relaxed atmosphere and fine food and wine. On offer is an à la carte menu for lunch and dinner, as well as a three- or five-course set menu for dinner. The wine list is a comprehensive showcase of Stellenbosch stunners. Look out for special events, happy hours, winemaker’s lunches, Simonsig Bubbly Brunches and more. The Jardine team also caters for special events or group bookings.
1 Andringa Street
Located in an 18th-century building in the heart of Stellenbosch’s cultural district, De Warenmarkt is a vibrant collective space that is home to an array of food and drink merchants, including a restaurant, and now, Simon, a new wine bar. Named after Simon van der Stel, the green-tiled bar beckons you to take a seat and peruse a full list of Stellenbosch greats, including the Legends wine list, which features rare wines from the region. Pair your favourite glass with some tapas around the cosy fireplace and sink into history. Guided monthly wine tastings are also on offer.
20 Ryneveld Street
Enter this dreamy, light-filled space for whatever takes your fancy: cakes and bakes from Blos Bakery; sublime fare from Meraki Café (open for breakfast, lunch, early dinner and aperitivo hour); or a tipple at the fabulous Bertha Wine Bar. Bertha Wines hail from the historic Stellenbosch farm, Weltevreden 1692. Named for the matriarch of the Bezuidenhout family that owns the estate, the wines include a Sauvignon Blanc, a Semillon, a Rosé and a Shiraz. Enjoy discovering them, along with other exclusive small allocation wines and the evening menu. Also ask about the macaron and wine pairing.
43 Church Street
You hear it before you see it: the convivial hum of people chatting, the clinking of glasses, lots of laughter. QBar, situated in the historic yet hip De Wet Centre Courtyard off Church Street, is a fresh addition to the offering of wine bars in Stellenbosch, a town known for its history, beauty, great people and fantastic energy. QBar is the brainchild of Ukrainian couple Denis and Yuliya Gaiduk, the owners of Quoin Rock and Knorhoek wineries, who fell in love with Stellenbosch nearly 10 years ago. And thanks to Yuliya’s stylish approach, it’s the town’s sunshine and lush valleys that are reflected in the green and golden opulence of QBar’s interior.
QBar is buzzing. It has wine, cocktails, tasty tapas and lovely seating in the leafy, cobblestone courtyard. This is the place where you can unwind. Where you can find the bitterly refreshing best-in-town Negroni cocktail, made with Knorhoek pink gin, Campari, Martini Rosso and orange peel. Or where you can try the crisp Knorhoek MCC – with its notes of apple, biscuit and lime – that goes delightfully well with the pea and parmesan risotto. Perhaps try the signature Quoin Rock G&T, a pink gin with buchu, pine needles and juniper berries that is to die for when paired with wildebeest loin and sauce. Talking about saucy, what about a glass of the spicy Quoin Rock Shiraz with duck pancakes; or the Saldana Bay oysters with pickled red onion, fynbos vinaigrette and pepper, washed down with a glass of Knorhoek Chenin?
Let’s face it, this is a gem of a place where you’re spoilt for choice. But what is it that makes QBar stand out among the other wine bars? It’s not only the elegant tapas, wine and cocktails, but also the excellent service. So, apart from going to QBar to enjoy your favourite glass of something, go to meet QBar’s sommelier Bongani and staff members Armstrong, Lucky, Frank and Akim. Then you’ll know you’ve discovered the most wonderful wine bar in town.