15 August 2012

Hemel & Aarde Valley - Hermanus Wine Route

Hemel & Aarde - Hermanus Wine Route

Wine Lovers, photographers, food-loving people, this valley is truly worth a visit. 
This valley, named Heaven and Earth, is a magical place which runs for about 6.7km amidst truly beautiful vistas with many wine farms along the way. The road eventually reaches Caledon - however, the wine route only extends as far as Seven Springs. 
The weather was not great on the day we visited - still worth it!
The valley is famous for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and has been likened to North France because of the clay soil and ocean breezes.

If you really fall in love with the valley, there are homes for sale at a price!

The route starts at Hermanuspietersfontein Wine Shop where you can also enjoy a Saturday Market between 09.00 and 13.00 hrs. Their farm is closer to Stanford.
The "Wine Village Shop" at the start of route R320 is truly a "library" of wines and they are open 7 days a week with free wine tastings. If you can drag yourself out of there, then head off up the valley! Make sure your credit card is handy.

Next up is Southern Right, Hamilton Russel, Ashbourne, Bouchard Finlayson, La Vierge, Sumeridge, Newton Johnson, Restless River, (that name just resonates with me) Spookfontein, Ataraxia, Creation, Mount Babylon, Jacob's Vineyards, Domaine des Dieux and Seven Springs.

As with any wine route, one has to choose as it is impossible to sample all the wines in one day unless you are looking to be locked up in the Hermanus cells till a Monday morning. Sort of difficult to explain to your boss why you won't be at work? So take a stab at the names and choose 1 or 2 farms to stop at.
We decided on Hamilton Russel - a beautiful and tranquil setting, overlooking a dam. With a roaring fire inside the tasting Room, on a cold day, it was a good stop. Tim Hamilton Russel purchased the property in 1975, his son, Anthony Hamilton Russel took over in 1991 and purchased the estate in 1994. HR only do Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and the wines are not cheap. Their  "Southern Right" label is less expensive.

Our next stop was Sumeridge Estate. The Tasting Room is impressively set within the stone-clad walls of an long, regal looking building. They also have a cosy restaurant for light meals, with outdoor seating during summer.  

By now, we were feeling somewhat peckish so decided to try out Mogg's Country Cookhouse for an authentic Hemel & Aarde experience. This restaurant is tucked away off the main R320 - signposted though and don't be put off by the dirt track and tiny building. The dogs will greet you and lead the way to the door which could be tightly shut on a cold day. This restaurant was taken over 17 years ago by a mother an daughter team and they have very obviously succeeded in getting the mix right. Cosy and warm and very busy after a 2 week holiday, they were rather phased by the tripping lights but the problem was sorted out promptly! Artist influence can be seen in the painting of fowls adorning the doors and walls plus many other displays of talent. The Pine cone ceiling was apparently in place when they purchased the restaurant and this adds another quirky feel to the place. With a mix of tourists and many locals (judging by the conversations) it's a successful venture and one we can highly recommend. The food was good, the service attentive and the ambiance just what we needed.

There is certainly enough on this wine route to keep everybody happy and being so close to Hermanus, it is an ideal day out when visited the seaside town. In summer, it's an escape from the crowds on the beach, in winter, what could be better than some roaring fires, wine tasting and valley cooking?

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