A mere 45 minutes from Cape Town is the gorgeous, flourishing countryside that is the Elgin Valley. Known for its abundance of fresh produce, in particular apples and pears, this valley is also host to some of South Africa’s top cool climate wines. The peaceful valley is a serene stop for those looking to get out of the bustle of town life, so grab those sunnies and take a trip to the winelands with our guide to the elegant Elgin valley.
Started in 2004, the fairly young Highlands Road Estate was the dream of Michael White, who identified the Elgin area as one of the top Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir producing areas. The picturesque estate is a tranquil spot to taste wines, sit back and take in the peaceful surroundings while the trees rustle around you.
With a host of award-winning Sauvignon Blancs, this young winery is just getting better with age. You will be spoilt for choice by the collection of wines including elegant white blends, MCC, Rosé, Pinot Noir and a full-bodied red blend called ‘Ruadh’.
A cool and modern tasting room offers a chic environment to taste these fantastic wines. This winery sets out to give you a memorable experience of what the Elgin Valley has to offer from the wines themselves to the deck overlooking the dam and the delicious food to pair with it.
The Highlands Road Café is a charming little restaurant that overlooks the sunlit lake. Serving simple, bistro-style dishes including thin crust, cheesy pizzas from the wood-fired pizza that will satisfy the strongest pizza craving and light antipasto platters. Sit waterside and enjoy the views with scrumptious, home-style food and great wines. Be sure to enquire about their picnics and any other events that may be coming up.
The beautiful Oak Valley Estate, situated in the heart of the gorgeous Elgin Valley, was founded all the way back in 1898 by Sir Antonie Viljoen. This large, mixed farming operation is set on 1786 hectares of thriving land and is renowned for its production of apples and pears. It is also home to a greenhouse cut flower production making Oak Valley Flowers the largest supplier of fresh cut flowers in the Western Cape and supplier of choice to Woolworths. Naturally reared, acorn-fed pigs and free-range beef cattle are also farmed on this majestic piece of land.
30 hectares of the farm are dedicated to the vineyards with plantings of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Shiraz and Pinot Noir.
This farm is rich in history and its beautiful produce certainly pays homage to that.
Draped in dappled light from the oak trees is The Pool Room Restaurant, Deli and Tasting Room. The country-chic restaurant overlooks an inviting, sparkling pool and terrace, with views of the tree-shaded gardens and impressive mountains. This is an idyllic setting for a relaxed day in the winelands.
The Pool Room offers delicious, country-inspired food with a twist of the Mediterranean. Sourced mainly from the farm, the ingredients are fresh and of the finest quality – from the free-range grass-fed beef and acorn-fed pork, seasonal vegetables and herbs from the garden, to artisanal breads baked fresh in the wood-fired oven. Delicious charcuterie and jars of spreads, jams and olive oils are also available from the deli and tasting counter.
For the wine drinker who is also a cycling enthusiast, you can enjoy the experience of the Oak Valley Mountain Bike trails. Consisting of three marked routes: 14 km Blue Route for a more relaxed family ride; 24 km Red Route for those looking for a bit more speed; and the 32 km Black Route for even more advanced and braver riders. This trail has even been described as a five-star mountain bike experience.
Paul Cluver, a family run business and known as the pioneers of wine production in the Elgin Valley, is situated on the picturesque De Rust estate, a conservation area that is beautifully flush with wildlife and plant life. This calm and peaceful 2000-hectare estate forms part of the UNESCO world heritage site, the Kogelberg Biosphere, making it the world’s first wine and biodiversity route. Located in the cool-climate valley, the elegant wines are true to the specific terroir of Elgin.
Sip your way through their delicious wines in the handsome tasting room adorned with rich, wooden finishes. Or lap up the sun in the lush garden dotted with vibrant flowers and enjoy the scrumptious food served up by restaurant, Fresh at Paul Cluver.
Fresh at Paul Cluver is a farm-to-plate restaurant where all of the fresh produce is sourced straight from the farm’s overflowing vegetable garden. The menu – a blackboard affair – changes frequently and focuses on what is fresh, seasonal and locally available.
Think Roast Chicken, Ham and Mushroom Pie or Red Pepper and Almond Curry. Satisfy your sweet tooth with Caramelized Fresh Figs with vanilla, cream, honey and Thyme served over Vanilla Ice-Cream with Chunks of Peanut Brittle.
Fresh offers a fuss-free, yet unforgettable, dining experience. On lazy summer days, you can sit under the trees on the green lawns and in the colder months, you sit next to a roaring fire in the cosy interior overlooking the vineyards.
Fancy some the theatre? The Hope @ Paul Cluver Amphitheatre is something out of a fairytale. This unique and awe-inspiring setting for performances is only a 45 minutes drive from Cape Town International. Towering Eucalyptus forest circles enclose the intimate open-air arena – all constructed out of timber. A dream-like setting which hosts some of the best local and international performances.
Alternatively, you can get those helmets on and enjoy the The Thandi – Paul Cluver MTB Trails. The Trail starts and finishes at the Paul Cluver Wine Tasting Room and consists of two routes. The Red Route – a 30 km ride, or the Black Route a 35 km ride.
A stunning farm situated on the slopes of the Elgin Valley and nestled amongst apple orchards, is the modern and elegant, South Hill wine farm. Previously known as South Hall, this farm is home to honest, refreshing wines that that are expressive of the cold winters, cool summers and rich fertile soils. Blushing with protea bushes and with hills covered in a blanket of lush vines, this eclectic estate truly captures the essence of South Africa.
Aside from delicious wines, guests can also enjoy a restful nights stay in the plush villa or enjoy a bite to eat and gaze at South African art in The Gallery Restaurant and Sculpture Garden. The farm also boasts a tranquil celebration venue, The Venue, fitting for any celebratory occasion.
The Gallery and Sculpture Garden at South Hill, forming part of The Venue, has collaborated with Art Event to showcase a diverse collection of Contemporary South African Art and to represent talented and thriving artists.
Surrounded by indigenous, verdant gardens, The Gallery and Sculpture Garden offer an array of fantastic pieces of art. From paintings and sculptures to photography and ceramics the collection of artworks showcases South Africa’s gifted artists.
Pair the art with food and enjoy artisanal lunches in The Gallery Restaurant where Chef Damian Dearlove serves up a mouthwatering, bistro-style menu using locally sourced produce. Or step into the tasting room and enjoy peruse the art or take in the breathtaking views of the vineyards while sipping on the superb South Hill wines.
The Venue plays host to any celebratory affair and makes for an exquisite space to host a wedding, birthday or any other special occasion.
Stay in the beautiful guesthouse or Pumphouse honeymoon cottage. Be it for a wedding, weekend or weekday stopover, this luxurious four-star accommodation is a restful retreat from busy town life.
The South Hill Guesthouse is a five bedroom, all en-suite, luxuriously elegant villa equipped with full guest facilities.
A modern open plan kitchen/dining and lounge area overlooks the garden and splash pool as well as the gorgeous vineyards, making it the perfect spot to entertain a large group. The villa can be shared with a large group of close friends or on a self-catering bed and breakfast basis. Each en-suite room opens out on to a private patio for privacy.
There is also a large loft area upstairs where guests can watch all DStv channels, use the library or play cards. This room is also great for young kids as it has its own en suite and can sleep 5 in total.
The Pumphouse, is the very special and romantic honeymoon cottage. Situated in a secluded indigenous garden of fragrant fynbos and on the banks of the dam surrounded by Shiraz vineyards, this cottage is sure to get the romance going.
Winters Drift winery might be mistaken for an old train platform but on entering the delightful and quaint 120 year old building, you will be welcomed by delicious wines located in a most unique setting. The Winters Drift Tasting Station is in fact part of the original, and fully operational, railway line that runs through Glen Elgin farm.
The Molteno Brothers, Edward and Harry came to Elgin in 1903 and settled on the farm Glen Elgin with its bountiful apple and pear orchards. Over time, cultivation extended to include flowers and more recently, 54 hectares of rolling vineyards. This led to the creation of Winters Drift Wines in 2010.
Platform 1 Eatery is a quaint little café that lends itself to the delightful Victorian setting of the Winters Drift Tasting Station. The eatery makes for a great stop where you can sit on the station platform, sip wine and tuck in to the seasonal, farm-fresh dishes on offer.
Stop off for a hearty breakfast before the wine tasting begins and grab a cup of Bean There Coffee, or sip on your Winters Drift wine of choice and chomp on the popular Home-made Beef burger with caramelized onions and potato wedges. The blackboard menu changes daily and each dish is made with delicious, local and sustainable ingredients.