One cannot visit Cape Town in South Africa without visiting a wine farm. Just twenty minutes from central Cape Town, in the heart of Tygerberg Hills, lies the Durbanville Wine Valley. With hectares of flourishing vineyards, award winning wines and a welcoming ambience, this wine valley is fast becoming the Cape's destination of choice for wine lovers visiting the region. Wine has been made in the Durbanville area since the end of the 17th century.
There are actually twelve prestigious wine farms in this valley, of which we managed to visit four. Each winery has its own charm and expresses timeless country elegance through the collection of wines they produce and the culinary experiences they have on offer. Warm hospitality, personal experiences and rich detail keep visitors returning throughout the year to the Durbanville Wine Valley.
Durbanville Hills Wines
Entrance to Durbanville Hills Winery - Image: Elaine de Wet
The Durbanville Hills Winery which was established in the late 1990's, overlooks Table Mountain, Table Bay and Robben Island and the wines produced at this wine farm express a unique synergy between the cool climate location and the very best in winemaking.
Outdoor dining or wine-tasting - Image: Elaine de Wet
In addition to the wine tasting, Durbanville Hills has its own restaurant, which offers a contemporary space with high ceilings and views of the rolling hills and lush-green vineyards. The summer opening times for the restaurant are:-
For the delectable menus on offer, please click here. We didn't stop off for a meal as we wanted to explore as many wineries as we could manage in a day. Durbanville Hills Winery have a unique selection of wines ranging from white Sauvignon Blancs to red Pinotages - for their wine collection, please click here.
Local artists and sculptors have their artwork strategically displayed throughout the gardens and property, which all add to the allure of visiting this very contemporary, sophisticated Winery.
Wayward Dreams of the Outside World by Marke Meyer - Image: Elaine de Wet
I loved this little winery - it was just that unusual, with themed 'caves' for a unique wine tasting experience. I suspect the name Klein Roosboom refers to the roses that are planted at the end of each row of vines. Roses and vines have been grown together for centuries and there are several different stories as to why this is done.
The most common story is that the rose acts as the 'sentinel of the vine' as they are both susceptible to the same diseases for example, black spot, powdery mildew etc. The vineyard managers plant the rose bushes at the end of each row so that they can detect early symptoms of disease. This was what I always believed, but apparently it could be a myth as according to the 'ones in the know' a rose is no more sensitive to fungal diseases than a grapevine and any symptoms would appear on both at exactly the same time. The question is asked: Why would one carefully inspect a single rose at the end of a row rather than walk a couple of metres further on and inspect the actual vines themselves? It's a bit like carrying a canary down a mine to check the air quality - by the time the canary has dropped dead, then you might have too.
For the past forty years or so disease management in vineyards has been done on a preventative basis, with a carefully planned spray program to ensure that disease won't occur in the first place - it is nearly impossible to stop mildews once they have appeared.
A second story is that the planting of roses dates from when horses were used to pull ploughs and they didn't want the post at the end of the rows to be knocked down, so the thorns on the rose deterred the horse. In all honesty, when did you last see a horse pulling a plough in a vineyard? And what horse would accidentally run into a post?
Die Ou Gat (The Old Hole) offers privacy for wine-tasting - Image: Elaine de Wet
So, what then would be the real reason to plant roses?
If you look closely at a vineyard with roses, you'll notice that only the rows that face the casual visitor have rose bushes at the end - the huge majority of the rest of the vineyard are without disease detectors or horse deterrers. So perhaps, the real answer is because they look good? And visitors enjoy the colour in the vineyards and hear the stories?
Die Hang Gat (The Hanging Hole) for wine-tasting - Images: Elaine de Wet
You'll find Klein Roosboom Boutique Winery at the coastal entrance to the Durbanville wine Valley. The tasting room is open every day and guests can enjoy cheese and charcuterie platters whilst sampling award winning boutique wines. To see their unique wine selection please click here.
The themed 'caves' allow for privacy and exclusivity while wine tasting with names like:-
🍇 The Boardroom;
🍇 Die Ou Gat (The Old Hole);
🍇 Die Hang Gat (The Hanging Hole);
🍇 Die Rooi Gat (The Red Hole).
This is truly a unique winery with its rustic charm, overlooking the vineyards and a very welcome fresh Atlantic breeze coming inland from the ocean. Klein Roosboom is a place to bookmark when visiting this region.
Entrance to Hillcrest Estate with roadside olive stall - Image: Elaine de Wet
Hillcrest Estate is nestled in the Tygerberg Hills on the outskirts of Durbanville, offering visitors a casual style restaurant, divine olives and award-winning wines. The terroir (the complete natural environment in which a particular wine is produced, including factors such as the soil, topography, and climate) of the farm's vineyards, and the cooling afternoon sea breezes from the Atlantic Ocean, makes this a prime growing grape region of the Western Cape.
In addition to the selection of wines at Hillcrest Winery, they have their own olive orchards which consist mainly of the Mission, Frantoio and Kalamata cultivars. All production of olive oil is done on the farm at Hillcrest Estate by hand, from harvesting to bottling.
Product of Hillcrest's own olive orchards - Image: Elaine de Wet
We arrived at Hillcrest Winery mid-morning and decided a cup of tea would make for a refreshing change and sat outdoors enjoying the stunning views and taste-testing some of the delectable olives. We couldn't leave without purchasing something 'olivey'.
Nitida Wines was our last stop for the day and is the smallest family-owned and run cellar in the Durbanville area. After twenty-five years, this wine cellar is one of the most consistently awarded wine cellars in South Africa with a multitude of double gold, gold and silver medals including being named 'Top Producer' at the 2009 Michelangelo International Wine Awards - an incredible achievement, considering there are only eleven permanent staff members.
In addition, Nitida Wines have two restaurants on the farm. Cassia overlooks the farm dam with sweeping views across the Durbanville vineyards. Contemporary and stylish food is on offer, either indoors or out on the deck. Cassia is named after the bold and intriguing spice also known as Asian cinnamon. This is also a superb venue for weddings or conferences and even private dining experiences.
Tables at Nitida, child-friendly cafe - Image: Elaine de Wet
Tables at Nitida is a child-friendly cafe with indoor and outdoor options, surrounded by lawns. Locals, tourists and passers-by can sit down to a natural, healthy and delicious menu.
We enjoyed some fantastic wine-tasting at Nitida and even bought ourselves a few bottles. Needless to say we won't be bringing any of it home to Australia with us as we managed to deplete our stock very quickly.
Beautiful gardens at Nitida Wines - Images: Elaine de Wet
There are still another eight wineries (for the full list click here) in the Durbanville region, which we never managed to visit, but with such a diverse choice available to travellers, I would suggest a bookmark for the Durbanville Valley Wineries would not go amiss.