The Helderberg Wine Route
When a friend suggested we take a trip down the Helderberg Wine Route I was thrilled. Not only do I like a good glass of wine, but apparently the trip through the region is breathtaking. I was not disappointed. Stretching from Somerset West to Stellenbosch, the Helderberg Wine Route is home to the luxurious Helderberg mountains.
Thanks to the summer sea breeze these slopes enjoy a near perfect temperature allowing the vineyards to thrive. It is then no surprise that some of the finest South African wines come from this area. The Helderberg region is not only beautiful, but also immersed in history being home to some of the oldest wineries in South Africa so whether interested in wine, scenery or history, the Helderberg Wine Route offers it all.
We planned a one day trip but with so much to see and do we could have easily spent a few days exploring. With any budget this is made possible with up market hotels, guest houses or bed and breakfast establishments scattered across the Cape Helderberg region. There are also many excellent restaurants in the Cape Helderberg Region as well as shops and craft markets to interest adults and children alike. If you’re feeling adventurous horse rides along the mountain are a firm favourite for many as well as a dip in the ocean in one of the nearby beaches.
But back to wine … Famous for its red and port wines, in recent years the Helderberg region has made a name for itself with dazzling white wines, specifically Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. There are more than thirty wineries along the Helderberg Wine Route including the well known Vergelegen winery, the award winning Avontuur Estate and the Longridge Wines estate.
Over 300 years old the Vergelegen wine estate has acquired accolades from all over the world, one of the most notable being voted Best South African Wine from 2004 to 2008 by Wine Magazine. Vergelegen is well known for its octagonal garden as well as its 300 year old camphor trees, making it a must-visit destination. There are many activities made available for visitors which include wine tasting (ranging from R2 to R10 per wine) to cellar tours held daily. Lunch, refreshments, tea and coffee are available at both the Lady Phillips Restaurant and the Rose Terrace Bistro. Try the Vin de Florence 2008 one of their premium wines, with hints of green apples, ripe tropical fruit, ginger, raisins and Muscat.
Avontuur Estate not only boasts some of the finest South African wines it is also home to some beautiful looking thoroughbred horses. This estate produces 3 ranges of wine from value for money to premiere wines. Try the Baccarat, a Bordeaux style blend, named after one of their most impressive racehorses. Sampling of all Avontuur wines take place daily in a cosy tasting room and the restaurant offers a Mediterranean inspired menu with daily specials. We were lucky enough to be blessed with a gorgeous day and sat outside on the terrace with a superlative view over False Bay. If you are not so lucky, never fear, a cosy fireplace is always there for colder days, so Avontuur Estate can be visited throughout the year.
Established in 1994, Longridge is a modern boutique cellar which combines traditional craftsmanship and new technology to produce some of the best wines made in South Africa. Initially the winery supplied its renowned wines to the export market only and has only recently begun supplying to the South African market. Wine tasting is held daily and picnic baskets and light lunches are made available as well. Try the Cabernet Sauvignon Blanc 2007, a scrumptious full-bodied wine balanced with rich mulberry, prune and dark berry flavours.