South Africa’s perennially picturesque Cape Winelands region has long been a popular day trip from Cape Town. But the birthplace of Pinotage is making a compelling—some would say conclusive—case for an extended stay among its valleys and vineyards.
The wine region, located about an hour’s drive east of the city, has seen an influx of luxury lodges in recent years, beginning with La Residence (laresidence.co.za) and Delaire Graff Estate (delaire.co.za) in the late 2000s. Richard Branson made a characteristically grand appearance in 2014 when he added the hilltop Mont Rochelle (virginlimitededition.com) to his exclusive Virgin Limited Edition collection. The property reopened in the Franschhoek Valley after Branson poured $3.2 million into a new spa, two restaurants, and renovations of the 22 guest rooms.
Most active in the region is the Leeu Collection (leeucollection.com), which at press time was targeting a December debut for its first new hotel, the 12-room Leeu House in Franschhoek. The nascent brand has caused a buzz in the Winelands with its recent acquisitions of the legendary Le Quartier Français restaurants and hotel (lqf.co.za) and the Swartland’s master of Syrah, Mullineux (mlfwines.com). This April, Leeu will debut its best excuse for a Winelands jaunt: Leeu Estates, a 168-acre wine farm and hotel built around a 19th-century Cape Dutch house.