“Off the Beaten Track” Overburg and Agulhas Wine Tour

September 25th, 2009 by karen

About 65km from Cape Town we will pass Grabouw, the centre of the apple farming community.  A few kilometres further is the start of Elgin wine ward.  Elgin is unique in the sense that it is geographically and geologically a very clearly defined mountain basin (in the Hottentots Holland mountain range).  One of coolest areas, traditionally a fruit (especially apples) growing region where the viticultural potential has long been realised.  Many of the countries foremost winemakers are moving into the area, buying grapes from established vineyards and developing more land.  Area is best suited to S.Blanc, P.Noir, & Merlot

Just before the town itself we turn to Oak Valley.  1 780 hectare property is major supplier of apples, pears, cut flowers and naturally reared beef cattle.  It also boasts 30 ha of protected English oaks and 500 ha of mountain fynbos conservation area.  The cellar itself was decommissioned in 1940’s whereafter they used Paul Cluver facilities but have just re-opened their own again despite huge fires that swept through the farm last year.

Back onto N2 past Peregrines onto Viljoenshoop road for till we reach Iona.  Situated high on the Hottentots-Holland mountain range overlooking the Elgin valley and the Atlantic Ocean.  Celebrated its maiden vintage in 2001 and continue to follow the philosophy of quality over quantity.  Low avg. Summer temperature of about 17degrees and frequent mists has enabled them to make a NLH recently though they are well known for their award winning Sauvignon Blanc. Thapelo Hlasa is the assistant winemaker and has taken large strides in his on-the-job training since he was formerly in charge of irrigation.

From Elgin drive through Bot River and Caledon with comfort stop in Bredasdorp onto Agulhas wine route.

The charming little village known as Elim, dominated by white-washed fishermen’s cottages and fig trees, is one of the few surviving South African mission stations, founded in 1824 between Bredasdorp and Gansbaai, a wonderfully conserved little historical town.
Elim is worth a visit for its neat rows of cottages alone. Most of them date back to the 19th century, made of mud-brick, plastered with lime plaster made of sea shells and thatched with restio grass, although there are also more modern renditions with brightly painted walls and corrugated iron roofs.

Elim, which means ‘place of God’, might lie in the middle of a particularly sparsely populated area, but it has recently been firmly placed on the wine map. Elim is something of a phenomenon as its unique ‘terroir’ has caused much excitement in the wine community worldwide. The cool and strong winds that prevail – south westerly and south easterly – have the effect of providing a very cool ripening season, perfect for Sauvignon Blanc and promising for Semillon and Shiraz. But more than that, this aspect, together with other climatic factors, results in the vineyards here developing unique explosive flavours that have not been tasted before, even by seasoned connoisseurs. The farms here have as their slogan – ‘Real wine, Real people’ and this encapsulates the atmosphere and flavoursome wines in this little hamlet.

Our first stop is for lunch and wine tasting at Black Oyster Catcher.  We sit out on the covered patio overlooking the protected wetlands on the farm with its plants animals and birds that make the remote area so special

Short trip out to Agulhas.  Historically, the cape has been known to sailors as particularly hazardous, notorious for winter storms and huge rogue waves that can reach a spectacular height of 30 metres, so it’s no surprise that the coast is littered with wrecks or that the large red and white striped lighthouse was built as early as 1848 in an attempt to warn ships of the conflicting currents, the west winds and the extremely perilous waves that combine to make it the ‘Cape of Storms’. Cape Agulhas is the official point at which the cold Benguela current of the Atlantic Ocean and the strong Aghulhas current of the Indian Ocean meet.

Stanford only has about 4 wine farms operating in the area but this includes Raka, which is one of the brands with the most “bling” I’ve ever seen! The Raka brand was named after Piet Dreyer’s black fishing vessel. Piet’s first love has always been the sea. For some 36 years he braved the storms and challenges of the coast, ever in search of the best catch. It is with this same passion that the Dreyer family now pursue the art of winemaking. One of the most colourful winemakers I have met.

The Hemel-en-Aarde (heaven and earth) Valley, just behind Hermanus, has become part of a popular wine farm meander and is definitely worth a visit. Grapes grown here are influenced by the cold Atlantic Ocean and the temperate conditions and clayey soil produce wines similar to those of Northern France. The valley is surrounded and sheltered by mountains on all sides which trap cloud cover and retain moisture throughout the valley.

This, the fastest growing wine route in South Africa, is already establishing a name with its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay cultivars.

Creation winery has only been operational since 2002.  This magic destination offers superb wines along with offerings from nature. A registered member of the Biodiversity & Wine Initiative (BWI), The natural vegetation is also reflected in the Fynbos Garden surrounding the cellar, where a superb collection of indigenous shrubs and trees can be found, 30 of which are labelled. They also go to great lengths to encourage the survival of the animal and bird populations in the area. These include lynx, mongoose, leopard, grysbok, duiker, yellow-billed kite, black eagle, blue crane and many others.

Heaven Restaurant – In a fertile valley of indescribable beauty, with panoramic views over the surrounding mountains, Sandown Bay and beyond, you will find a small piece of heaven. Here good food, delicate wines, and warm company combine to deliver an unforgettable culinary experience. Your friendly hosts, Bruce Henderson and Yolande Steenkamp, the owners/chefs, invite you to come and enjoy delicious, freshly prepared meals in an intimate atmosphere with fabulous wines.

No Responses to «“Off the Beaten Track” Overburg and Agulhas Wine Tour»

Leave a Reply