Of the list of ten op restaurants, six are situated in the Winelands.
- The Test Kitchen
- Five Hundred
- Rust en Vrede – On Rust en Vrede Wine Estate, Stellenbosch
- The Greenhouse
- Hartford House
- Jordan Restaurant – On Jordan Wine Estate, Stellenbosch
- Overture – On Hidden Valley Wine Estate, Stellenbosch
- Camphors at Vergelegen – On Vergelegen Wine Estate, Somerset West
- The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français
- Pierneef à La Motte – On La Motte Wine Estate, Franschhoek
When you look at the restaurants nominated as the Top Twenty, it is an amazing fourteen restaurants situated in the Winelands that made the list:
- Bread & Wine, Franschhoek
- Camphors at Vergelegen, Vergelegen Wine Estate, Somerset West
- Delaire Graff Estate Restaurant on Delaire Graff Wine Estate, Stellenbosch
- DW Eleven-13
- Five Hundred
- The Greenhouse (The Cellars-Hohenort)
- Hartford House
- Indochine at Delaire Graff Estate on Delaire Graff Wine Estate, Stellenbosch
- Jordan Restaurant, Jordan Wine Estate, Stellenbosch
- The Kitchen at Maison, Franschhoek
- La Colombe, Constantia Uitsig Wine Estate, Constantia, Cape Town
- Makaron, Stellenbosch
- Overture, Hidden Valley Wine Estate, Stellenbosch
- Pierneef à La Motte, La Motte, Franschhoek
- Planet Restaurant at the Mount Nelson
- The Restaurant at Waterkloof, Waterkloof Wine Estate, Somerset West
- Rust en Vrede Restaurant, Rust en Vrede Wine Estate, Stellenbosch
- The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français, Franschhoek
- The Test Kitchen by Luke Dale-Roberts
- Tokara, Tokara Wine Estate, Stellenbosch
While we didn’t really need proof, the sheer numbers of Winelands restaurants considered to be the best in the country, just goes to show that good food and wine go together. But wine can be shipped anywhere in the world and I am sure the wine lists of restaurants like Hartford House and Five Hundred, far removed from the vineyards of the Cape, also offer a wonderful selection of award-winning wines.
Wine is obviously not restricted to the Winelands. Why would it be then, that so many of the best eateries are situated here?
Perhaps there is more demand and expectation for a certain quality of food in and around the Winelands?
It is true that South Africa’s wine tourism offering is very well developed and many international tourists visit the Cape and its surrounding Vineyards each year. You could make an argument that travellers with a taste for wine, might have an interest in food as well.
Everywhere you go in the world, food and wine goes together and while you will most probably always find wine where there is food – regardless of where the restaurant is situated – the Winelands cater for those who come for wine first, but who also of course have to eat – and then, have discerning palates at that.
The Restaurants in and around the Winelands are always trying to please well-travelled guests who compared their food and service to international standards. They have to meet the expectations of these educated palates – whether it is with regard to the quality and presentation of food, service levels or look and feel of the restaurant.
With a dense population of restaurants in the relative compact area of the Winelands – from Constantia, to Stellenbosch, Somerset West, Franschhoek and Paarl – the competition between restaurants is tough. While chefs in general are friends and everyone knows each other in the small communities, each restaurant has to stake its claim, has to have something different and unique and has to deliver exceptional food and service in order to keep customers coming back.
Add to this that the restaurants in the Winelands are all blessed with the exceptional natural beauty of the area, romantic winters with fire places and red wine and beautiful sunny summers with outside dining options and all starts to make sense.
And although each region has its unique cuisine influences and special produce, the Western Cape is exceptionally blessed when it comes to quality produce. Not only because of its proximity to the ocean, vineyards and fruit orchids but also because of food lovers producing artisan products such as cheese and bread and chocolate that has so much love poured into them that it would be hard for any chef not to be inspired to create exceptional dishes.