South Hill – A laid-back escape with a touch of glam

It’s not everyday one gets to take a sneaky midweek break, so when the opportunity arise it’s important to pick a location that’s not to far out of town, but also a place that will make you feel miles away from the rat race.

Less that an hour out of Cape Town, the miraculous Sir Lowry’s Pass brings visitors from city basin into the Overberg, where seemingly endless mountain peaks and country hospitality await. The district, of which Grabouw is the centre, is better known as the Elgin Valley, internationally known as the place in South Africa where apples come from. Over the last 10 years however, a couple of farmers have decided to ditch the apples for grapes and the results have been pretty fruitful.

With its growing number of wine producers, Elgin has become one of my favourite wineland destinations in South Africa. It was therefore the obvious choice for our romantic getaway, although our timing could have been better. As we left behind the bright lights of the big city, we drove into one of the worst rain storms. I still don’t know how we managed to arrive alive at our destination, but the glass of South Hill bubbly that welcomed us upon arrival was much needed and well deserved.

For many years the land on which South Hill stands today consisted out of pear and apple orchards. In 2001 a consortium of four South African business men decided to purchase the farm but it was only in 2006 that the business partners decided to replace the fruit orchards with vines.

During an informative tasting with winemaker Sean Skibbe, it became clear that South Hill has established themselves as a noteworthy game player in the South African wine industry.

South Hill winemaker Sean Skibbe.

South Hill winemaker Sean Skibbe.

The wines we tasted were pleasant on the palate and over-delivered on price. With Elgin being an emerging wine region, bottle prices can be quite stiff due to limited quantities, yet South Hill seems to understand that not everyone can afford to fork out R200 and more for a bottle of wine. The wine range offer something for every palate and pocket and the estate itself is truly something to experience.

The South Hill Wine range consist out of two labels: The South Hill label and the Kevin King label, named after the owner.

The South Hill Wine range consist out of two labels: The South Hill label and the Kevin King label, named after the owner.

After our tasting, we made our way to The Gallery Restaurant, where chef Damian Dearlove presented us with a bistro-style menu with a defining touch of elegance. The roaring fireplace made the stylishly decorated space feel warm and welcoming, with local artworks covering the walls.

Lunch was phenomenal. The dishes we had, all prepared with seasonal and locally sourced ingredients, exceeded out expectations and it’s hard not to drool when looking at the photos we took.

With satisfied tummies, we checked into the guesthouse, which is a stone throw away from the restaurant and tasting room. The five bedroom, en suite luxury villa offers full guest amenities and boost a 15 meter swimming pool, a boules court and an outdoor pizza oven. With the cyclone playing off outside we were unfortunately unable to experience any of the outdoor activities.


The large fireplace in the open-plan living area was a real lifesaver and the only time we deserted its warmth was when we needed a refill of South Hill Pinotage. We remained on a liquid diet throughout the evening after having more than our fair share of food over lunch, but the state of the art kitchen and its high quality utensils are any cook’s dream.

We were lucky to have the guesthouse to ourselves on the evening of our stay. This will however not be the case in high season, so if you are looking for more privacy then the Pumphouse, situated on the banks of one of the farm’s dams, might be a better option.


The Pumphouse at South Hill.

Our overnight stay included a full farm-style breakfast, prepared by Sandy, the wife of owner Kevin King in the morning. The personal attention we received during our stay was exceptional and made us feel right at home. If we could have stayed for another week, we would have!

South Hill stands out for its country-style glamour, excellent cuisine, well-made wines, opulent accommodation and friendly hospitality. It might not be the ideal destination for the budget-conscious, but those who are willing to pay a little bit more for luxury will not be disappointed.