Sommelier Wayve Kolevsohn—the first woman in Africa to be certified by the Court of Master Sommeliers—shares her guide to Cape Town’s best wine bars.
“As a South African growing up in Cape Town, wine is ingrained into our culture,” says wine sommelier Wayve Kolevsohn. “I had my first sip of champagne when I was two—I have a photograph to prove it!”
The first woman in Africa to pass the Court of Master Sommeliers’ certification exams, Kolevsohn got her start in Franschhoek in the Cape Winelands. For three years, she worked as the restaurant manager at Le Quartier Francais’s former Tasting Room at a time when the idea of a sommelier was uncommon in the region. “As a San Pellegrino World Top 50 restaurant, we offered wine pairings with our 12-course tasting menu and had a rather substantial wine list. I assumed the additional role of wine service manager in the evenings, and that is where my passion and love for the South African wine industry began.”
Now the sommelier at Cape Town’s Ellerman House hotel, Kolevsohn’s lifelong love for South African grapes continues to thrive in the city’s robust wine scene.
“In the Cape, wine is not just a drink—it’s a lifestyle, a way of life,” says Kolevsohn. “It’s actually more about the people, the land, and the culture rather than what’s in the bottle. It’s all of the above that makes what’s in the bottle so special, and that’s what I fell in love with.”
Here, Kolevsohn shares the six wine bars around Cape Town that have continued to foster her fondness, including a stop with views of boats sailing past Table Mountain and another offering some of the continent’s best seafood.
1. Publik Wine Bar
Always a buzz at this trendy wine bar, the wine list is constantly revolving; you will find something new every time you visit. Plus, the bar food alone is worth going for.
On Kloof Street, with a great selection of natural wines available by the glass and lovely outdoor area. The staff is always on hand for a wine chat.
3. Bascule Bar at the Cape Grace
The most perfectly sophisticated setting to enjoy a glass of wine or a cocktail whilst watching yachts come and go and beautiful views of Table Mountain.
4. Ellerman House
Our wine gallery is home to over 9,000 bottles of wine. There is an ever-evolving wine list with a wonderful selection of wines by the glass. The sommelier (me!) hosts bespoke daily wine tastings for our in-house guests, and the terrace at Bar Roc is the perfect setting to watch the sunset with a glass of great South African wine. If you’re feeling a bit wined out, don’t forget the complimentary gin trolley with a huge selection of local South African gin and tonics.
Run by an Italian couple Rafael and Marta. They have two venues: their Wale Street bar is in the hub of the city and their Woodstock store at The Old Biscuit Mill. A huge selection of wine by the glass. Both venues are the place to go for industry events and tastings. At Openwine you are never just a customer, you’re always made to feel part of their family.
6. Chapman’s Peak Restaurant and Hotel in Hout Bay
Not only is the seafood some of the best in Africa and does the setting offer views of Hout Bay Beach and the Atlantic Ocean, but the wine list is thoughtful and condense. Compiled by the owner and available for retail sales at their wine store next door, there is a wine for every palate and budget.