Exploring The Main Roads and Back Routes of Wellington


On a recent trip to Paarl, I veered off the path most-travelled and ventured to one of South Africa’s lesser-known wine regions. Characterised by its off-the-beaten-path locations, cultural and culinary offerings, and a refreshing lack of bling, the Wellington wine route offers a novel perspective on the winelands of South Africa.

Visiting the wineries

The Wellington wine route might be one of the youngest wine routes in the Cape, but the region’s viticultural heritage dates back to the French Huguenots of the late 1600s. It has numerous spectacular wine farms with history, architecture and tasting experiences that are incomparable to any place else.

Most wineries charge a small fee per visitor for tastings, but in most cases tasting cost will be waived if you buy a bottle of wine. Also, keep in mind that the majority of Wellington wineries are medium to small-scale producers. These family-owned and operated enterprises are usually not staffed to handle casual, drop-in visitors, especially over weekends. Do some research to avoid disappointment.

Alkmaar

You’ve likely never heard of Alkmaar Wines yet this boutique winery has a rich heritage spanning over more than a century. The farm was founded by Marinus Jacobus Stucki who established the first Dutch School on Alkmaar in the Blouvlei area in 1868 where he devoted 42 years of his life and aptly named it after his town of birth in the Netherlands.

alkmaar wine estate Exploring The Main Roads and Back Routes of Wellington

Today, Alkmaar is run by owners Juan Möller and Charmaine Olivier. Their new labels represent Latin names, honouring the first owner of the farm. The current range consists of six wines, with a seventh one in the pipeline. “Victrix”, a Chardonnay and Pinot Noir that is pink of colour honours the female conqueror. Some of the other wine names include “Alumni“, a Shiraz-based blend representing a former pupil or student and the “Dominus“, honouring the legendary Skoolhoof.

alkmaar wine range Exploring The Main Roads and Back Routes of Wellington

The tasting room at Alkmaar is open by appointment only, so be sure to make a booking or ring them up before you go.

Imbuko

During the visit, I popped in at Imbuko Wines for a gourmet pie and wine pairing experience. The pies included a biltong pie, a venison pie and a lamb pie.

pie and wine tasting imbuko Exploring The Main Roads and Back Routes of Wellington

This is not the only unusual tasting experience the wine and buchu farm offers. Don’t miss the farmhouse toasties and decadent milkshakes. During the warmer months, the tasting room also offers delectable picnic platters filled with local goodies.

Where to eat

A sure way to enjoy the local food with wine is to treat yourself to lunch in the heart of the winelands.

Villamar Eatery and Coffee Roastery

villamar Exploring The Main Roads and Back Routes of Wellington

Villamar, translated as house of the Marra`s, transports visitors to the heart of Italy with simple, yet sophisticated Italian inspired cuisine. Both Villamar Eatery and Coffee Roastery, situated between the olive groves on Oudeburg Farm en-route to Wellington, have a strong sustainable farm to plate philosophy.  Chef Lucar and his team make use of a minimalist and elegant approach in designing dishes.

tarrimaso villamar Exploring The Main Roads and Back Routes of Wellington

Villamar’s coffee tasting experience offers a tasting of three different coffee types, during which the coffee steward explains the difference between the Robusta variety and the Arabica bean, the roasting process, and what to expect in various roasting degrees. Afterwards, tasters are invited to enjoy their favourite coffee.

coffee tasting wellington Exploring The Main Roads and Back Routes of Wellington

The Grillroom @ Val du Charron

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Famous for serving high-quality meats and delicious steakhouse-style food, The Grillroom offers a one-of-a-kind dining experience that is sure to please carnivores.

Pizza Vista

vista pizza val du charron Exploring The Main Roads and Back Routes of Wellington

In addition to the Grillroom, Val du Charron also have an Italian restaurant on the estate. Pizza Vista offers diners the chance to soak up the views while munching on wood-fired pizzas and other tasty Italian classics.

Where to stay

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The The historic Grand Dale Manor House is situated on Doolhof Wine Estate

If you are looking for a full Wellington wine countryside experience, look no farther than one of the many accommodation options in the area. For the full five-star experience, the luxury suites at Val du Charron or Grand Dédale are viable options. Val du Charron also offers affordable 4-star suites, a wellness spa and various dining options, as mentioned above.

Arts & Crafts

As a close-knit community, Wellington embraces local arts and crafters, home industries and local produce that are available from various outlets.

Breytenbach Centre

Be sure to drop by the Breytenbach Centre, situated in the centre of town.

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Built some 150 years ago, this multidisciplinary cultural centre was the former home of internationally acclaimed poet Breyten Breytenbach.  After the Breytenbach family sold the house in 1974, it deteriorated to such an extent that the Drakenstein Municipality considered demolishing it. However, in the nineties a group of enthusiastic art lovers bought the house from the Municipality and, with the support of the Breytenbach family, embarked on the lengthy process of developing the building into an arts and cultural centre.

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The “Tuin van Digters” is a small lush garden with mosaics, a fountain, poetry and angels.

Today the centre runs various arts programmes and training initiatives, making an indelible difference in the local community.

Outdoor adventures

Outdoor activities are easily accessible with numerous hiking trails, bird and wildlife viewing, mountain biking and 4×4 routes available in and around Wellington.

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A drive up the Bainskloof Pass, one of South Africa’s great mountain passes, is a must! The pass is great for mountain biking, hiking and swimming in the freshwater pools. The Bainskloof Ultra Marathon is an annual event which includes the pass as part of the route.

For more information about the Wellington area, be sure to visit Wellington Tourism.