Best known for its elegant wines and sprawling apple orchards, the lush Elgin & Grabouw valley offers city-dwellers a serene getaway less than an hour away from the hustle and bustle of Cape Town CBD. With the Elgin Cool Wine and Country Festival just around the corner, Cape Weekender headed up and over Sir Lowry’s Pass to explore a few of the unique experiences on offer for those adventurous souls looking for a restful break.
South Hill Vineyards
Tucked away in the beautiful Elgin Valley, South Hill Wine Estate is well known for its award-winning Sauvignon Blanc and its easy-drinking wines, but fewer people have had the luck to experience the estate’s beautifully curated art selection and its gorgeous views of the valley. The restaurant alone is worth the detour down Elgin Valley Road, whether the mood requires a long lunch over a soulful chicken and mushroom pot pie or an elegant selection of tapas to nibble while wine tasting. Once a month the estate hosts a movie night in the restaurant for just R135 (including dinner) with wines at cellar prices and the option to stay over. Accommodation includes the six-roomed family guesthouse and the self-catering Pumphouse Honeymoon Cottage (with jacuzzi). A full menu is available for breakfast and lunch, with regular specials and a dedicated kids menu. For those wanting to make the most of the fresh Elgin air, the estate’s 3.2km trail lends itself to walks, runs and cycles and guests can fish on a catch-and-release basis. South Hill hosts events such as the Overberg Wedding Fair on 12 & 13 May 2018, and is a fantastic venue for weddings, landmark parties and family reunions.
Address: 113 Valley Road, Elgin Valley
Don’t miss: The opportunity to win a two night stay at South Hill! See details on the Cape Weekender Facebook page.
Copia Eco Cabins
Further off the beaten track lies a secret off-the-grid getaway: Copia Eco Cabins. Artfully designed from two converted shipping containers, this stylish retreat has fireplaces, braai areas and wood-fired hot tubs overlooking undisturbed views of the Botrivier mountains. Completely eco-friendly and self-sustaining, each cabin is powered exclusively by solar-generated electricity. The cabins are situated on a functioning farm so, when not venturing out to explore the activities of the area, guests have been known to happily while away hours simply spotting the animals and birds that call it home. Catch the sunrise from the balcony with your morning coffee or stargaze from the hot tub with a glass of wine in hand. With limited cell phone reception, uncluttered views and luxurious interiors, Copia Eco Cabins offer visitors a serene escape from civilization: perfect for couples looking to unwind and re-connect in nature for a couple of days.
Address: Keisseskraal Farm, 6.2km down the Van Der Stel Pass outside Bot River
Don’t miss: The sunrise from the deck
Paul Wallace Wines
Viticultural consultant Paul Wallace and his wife Nicky bought this former fruit farm in 2003, with Paul’s conviction that the cool-climate region of Elgin is one of the most exciting developing wine regions in the world. A proudly family-run affair, Paul Wallace Wines has quickly become known for its hospitality and its highly-rated wines. The tasting room is open throughout the week, but it is best to call ahead to make arrangements for a weekend or public holiday visit. Be sure to ask for a glass of the much awarded Brave Heart Pinot Noir and their flagship Black Dog Malbec. Those wanting to indulge in a longer stay can book one of the crisp and elegant family-friendly self-catering cottages and come equipped with DSTV and WiFi access (to keep the kids happy in the evenings!) as well as stone braais and beautiful views of the surrounding valley for those preferring to live the simpler life. Guests can take a dip in the nearby dam if the weather allows, and animal lovers of all ages will enjoy the birdlife: spoonbills, herons, Egyptian geese and resident chickens all roam the farm.
Address: Farm #63, Wallovale Vineyards, Highlands Rd, Grabouw
Don’t miss: Nicky Wallace’s chocolate and wine pairing
Old Mac Daddy
With options for every taste and budget, Old Mac Daddy is a longstanding must-visit in the Elgin Valley. Although day visitors are welcomed, by far the best option is to stay over, preferably – your kids will tell you – for at least a week. Visitors can opt to sleep in an artist-themed bedroom of an airstream trailer or stay with friends and family in the ‘eco-chic’ self-catering Daddy’s Villa. The School House is a newly renovated school large enough to accommodate a family, or there is also the option for glamping at Daddy’s Den or retreating to Daddy’s Hideaway – a tented camp with a plunge pool, a heated bath, swinging deck chairs and WiFi. Few places can beat Old Mac Daddy for family-friendly activities: everything from stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking to zorbing – rolling along the water in a huge inflatable ball. Land-based activities include archery and the option to explore the trails (on foot or on Fatbike). Teambuilding packages on offer include Chopped (a masterchef-style cook-off), karaoke battles and more. Old Mac Daddy is a one-of-a-kind adventure-packed holiday for families, friends and couples: just tailor your stay according to whatever sparks your interest.
Address: 112 Valley Rd, Elgin
Don’t miss: The Barn Restaurant’s fabulous pizzas (including vegan options)
Charles Fox Methode Cap Classique Estate
You’ve no doubt come across Charles Fox wines in top end restaurants and hotels across Western Cape, Johannesburg and KZN. Most famous for their flagship Prestige Cuvée, Cipher, this family-owned winery’s wines are consistently rated highly on the Platter guide, regularly receiving 4 stars or more. A visit to the farm’s manicured garden and sprawling vineyard is likely to include an encounter with the man himself, or his wife Zelda – both avid Francophiles. And a visit to the Tasting Room is a must. Charles Fox has three varietals – chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier. Guided tastings of the six estate bubblies are on offer – four vintage wines and two newly released reserve wines – Reserve Brut and Reserve Rosé. Can’t get to the Western Cape? Visit one of the stocking restaurants and order a glass off the menu, or get in touch with the man himself – Charles Fox takes online orders and ships anywhere in South Africa.
Address: 89 Valley Road, Elgin
Don’t miss: A tour of the French-style underground cellar, designed to hold 200 000 bottles