When you think of Johannesburg and all the city has to offer, great wine may not be the first thing that comes to mind. True, Gauteng may not have the many scenic vineyards found in the Western Cape, but that definitely doesn’t mean you should expect a shortage of fine quality wine. With a rise in specialized wine bars emerging all around Johannesburg, it’s almost as though the winelands have found their way to the city. Here are our picks of the best places to check out when visiting the city of gold:
Publik originated in Cape Town in 2015 and after quickly becoming popular there, it branched out to Johannesburg four years later. This bar is known for serving wines on the more unusual and unique side, all of which are sourced from local and sustainable vineyards. They pride themselves on a knowledgeable team of staff and a constantly changing wine list, so visitors are always spoiled for choice. They also have a food menu with simple yet delicious, Mediterranean-inspired bites. Situated along the trendy Bolton Road area of Johannesburg, the spot is always filled with high-flyers, hipsters and hotel-hoppers. Still, it manages to remain cosy and intimate amidst all the bustle.
Though this spot is barely a year old, it has already garnered some loyal patrons thanks to its warm, relaxing atmosphere and attentive service. Equal parts eatery and wine bar, you can expect to enjoy a contemporary Middle Eastern-inspired menu accompanied by eclectic boutique wines on their wine list or at their harvest wine table. Wine lovers will appreciate the huge wall of wine that makes up their back bar. Head through on a Wednesday evening to make the most of their wine and tapas special.
Located in the vibrant area of Maboneng, The Nine Barrels is the perfect place to experience Johannesburg’s unique energy. The establishment describes itself as “a space for the curious”. This motto is reflected in the journey to reach its rooftop bar, requiring guests to walk up a flight of stairs and through the building’s art gallery filled with pieces by local artists on exhibition. Once you reach the rooftop, the stunning views of Johannesburg are perfectly accompanied by one of the most extensive wine, whisky and bubbly lists in the capital city. Best of all? Their drinks are served by the glass, so you get to enjoy the variety of their menu with no restrictions.
Le Wine Chambre can be found in the upmarket suburb of Illovo and is as inviting as it is trendy. Owner and self-titled ‘Chief Wine Officer’ (we love a good title), Walter Melato, says he wished to open an establishment that provided the ambiance to have great conversations. That is the essence of Le Wine Chambre, meaning ‘the wine room’ in French. Guests come to dine, laugh, converse and enjoy premium, high quality boutique wines from an impressive wine list. The French name was inspired by the owner’s daughter and also, he says, makes the bar feel like “a cellar away from home” for his clientele.
Situated on the historic and world-famous Vilakazi Street in Soweto, The Wine Bar is steeped in South Africa’s history. Because of this, it attracts large crowds of all ages and backgrounds. The Wine Bar aims to offer a unique experience to both tourists and locals alike and does so through its unique African fusion menu and sophisticated cigar lounge. Their wine cellar is also proudly South African; though they do stock a few international brands, they serve mostly local wines including the popular South African Méthode Cap Classique. This spot also has a private entertainment area complete with full catering which makes it the ideal place for big celebrations.
This is one spot on our list where its plentiful wine cellars are as celebrated as its award-winning kitchen. What began as a high-end steak bar turned into one of Johannesburg’s most popular and luxurious restaurants, run by renowned chef David Higgs. Calling Marble’s bar legendary is no exaggeration. Wine lovers flock here to indulge in their old favourites or to discover rare and remarkable flavours under the expert guidance of sommelier Wikus Human. The elegant, contemporary decor and panoramic views of the city set the tone for an unmatched dining experience, with stellar wine to cap it off.
If you’re in Johannesburg and planning on visiting Cape Town, remember that our team of expert consultants would love to help curate an exciting wine bar hopping tour should you wish. Touch base with us below!