The R320, fittingly called Hemel en Aarde, is the road that leads from Hermanus to Caledon. On the way, like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, it goes through some of the most gorgeous scenery you will encounter anywhere. The temptation to stop and breathe in the country air is irresistible, so why resist it? Stop and live a little, as my Grandmother used to say– and she knew whereof she was speaking. Most of these wineries have views that will take your breath away. The cool climate area is perfect for making really good wines, particularly Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. An excellent innovation here is the Hermanus Wine Hopper safari style service which calls at 9 of the wine farms in the area and most importantly takes you off the road so you can relax a bit about the wine drinking. Phone 076 991 2498
So now that we can get away a bit, on your way to the coast make a detour and try some of these treasures.
First up as you turn onto the road itself is Whalehaven. This place belongs to the Bottega family who also own Idiom wines in Somerset West from where a lot of their grapes come. However they also source here and from Walker Bay giving these wines a distinctive flavour of their own. There are basically four ranges with something to appeal to most tastes and pockets. Try the Conservation Coast Chardonnay– a knockout—rich and smooth– one of the best anywhere, and the Conservation Coast Merlot, silky smooth and enticing. More friendly priced are the Old Harbour Rosé, a quaffer of note, and the Red blend made from Merlot and Cab Sav—delicious. Very popular is the wine and chocolate pairing but you have to have a taste for that if you know what I mean.
Phone 028 316 1633
The domain of legendary winemaker Peter Finlayson, who today works with master winemaker ChrisAlbrecht, this magnificent place still turns out some of the finest wines ever to come out of our country. The Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs are spectacular and maintain a seamless level of quality which never wavers. While there, order a deli platter to assuage your hunger and if you want to use your helicopter to fly in do advise them in advance—they will transport you to the cellar—very chic. The Galpin Peak Pinot Noir is the pinnacle of achievement while the Kaaimansgat Crocodile’s Lair Chardonnay is heaven on earth—aptly.
Maker of some of the world’s most fabulous Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs, there is also available a label which they call Southern Right. The tasting room is one of the most picturesque you will find anywhere — perched on the edge of a lake surrounded by a forest—gorgeous. In addition to the Pinot Noir, seamlessly perfect with well-handled wood supporting luscious fruit, and the spectacular Chardonnay, try the Southern Right Pinotage, delicious, and Sauvignon Blanc, crisp and clean. If the weather is good sit outside and take in the magic of the moment with an associated brand called Ashbourne who make an unusual Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay blend, seriously delicious. Owner Anthony Hamilton Russell and his wife Olive overlook the domain from way up on the hill, with assorted dogs and tortoises to keep them company.
028 312 3595
Husband and wife team Gordon and Nadia Newton Johnson have helped the family maintain their good name by year after tear turning out wines that make people take notice—and of course buy . Try the Felcité Dry Rose made from Shiraz and the well-priced Felicité Pinot Noir which holds its own against others double the price. Spectacularly perched on the side of the mountain, the restaurant here takes in a great view while serving excellent food, tending to Cape comfort style without any frills and fancies, tasty and moreish. Do a wine tasting first so you will know how they will pair.
PHONE 028 3123862
This busy place is perfect for taking the load off your feet as there numerous tasting and eating arrangements. Whichever way you do it, there are no loose ends here to interfere with the occasion. It is always relaxed and professional—and usually very busy. Owner J C Martin, a transplanted Swiss, and his wife Carolyn keep a tight rein on things with eyes and ears that seem to be everywhere. Try the Small Plate Pairing, six delicious small plates, each with a different wine, or the Brunch Pairing if you can get there by 10 am, quite unique. The wines not to miss are their famous Merlot Cabernet blend, silky smooth and full bodied and the Reserve Pinot Noir. They also have range called Whale Pod with a standout Syrah/ Merlot blend, superb.
PHONE 028 212 1107