Did you know?
In 1966, Edmond Lombardi from Applethwaite farm in Elgin created a preservative-free apple-juice beverage known as Appletiser.
The Elgin Valley Wine Route’s great allies in producing high quality wines are altitude and a cool climate.
Amid a patchwork of farms, vineyards, and fynbos reserves, in the foothills of the Hottentots-Holland Mountains, the Elgin Valley Wine Guild’s wine producers find the ideal terroir for growing noble grape varieties.
Variations in meso-climate, altitudes ranging from 300m to 600m above sea level, and soils ranging from Table Mountain sandstone to Bokkeveld shale combine to shape the character of the New World-style wines from this region.
On the wine route, cool south-easterly sea breezes follow cold winters with abundant rainfall.
In this elevated zone, extensive cloud cover during the growing season sees fruit ripen up to two months later than other Cape vineyards. In most instances, this extended time on the vine contributes to the harmonious balance of low pH, good natural acidity and ripe flavours found in Elgin wines.
Along the Elgin Valley Wine Route, visitors will find an abundance of award-wining Sauvignon Blancs, with the distinctive minerality, crisp acidity, freshness, and after some maturation, fruitiness typical of cool-climate whites.
Elgin’s earthy, terroir-driven Pinot Noir and Syrah wines, with excellent ageing potential, are also grabbing awards and wine lovers' attention.
Additionally, Riesling, Semillon, Chardonnay, Viognier, Gewürztraminer, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and small experimental quantities of Grenache Noir are grown here.
Certain Elgin Wine Valley Guild estates, including Paul Cluver, Almenkerk, Elgin Vintners, Highlands Road, Oak Valley, Ross Gower and South Hill Vineyards, are open for public tastings.
Tastings at Arumdale, Belfield, Elgin Heights, Elgin Ridge, Elgin Valley Vineyards, Iona, Kingsbridge and Shannon Vineyards are by appointment only.
A leisurely self-drive meander along the Elgin Valley Wine Route begins outside the village of Grabouw at Oak Valley Estate. Off the N2, on the Viljoenshoop road, visit Elgin Vintners, a partnership of 6 dedicated grape growers, and the new Almenkerk Winery.
Return along the Viljoenshoop road, and turn right into Highlands Road. Here, you’ll reach Highlands Road Winery, which has a superb deli and offers light lakeside lunches.
Off Highlands Road, in Valley Road, sample Ross Gower Wines’s Pinot Noir Brut, Elgin’s 1st Cap Classique. Farther along, South Hill Vineyards has an art gallery and fine dining restaurant.
Your final stop on Valley Road is the multi-award-winning estate of Paul Cluver. Its Weisser Riesling Noble Late Harvest is a sweet ending to your Elgin Valley Wine Route adventure.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
How to get here
Take the N2 in the direction of Somerset West, about a 30-minute drive. Follow the N2 over Sir Lowry’s pass, where you’ll have grand views of False Bay. Still on the N2, you will reach the R321 Villiersdorp road that takes you to Grabouw-Elgin.
Best time to visit
In spring (September to November), Elgin’s fields, orchards, vineyards and flower gardens are at their most beautiful, while summer is invitingly cool.
Around the area
Visit fruit and flower farms, plant nurseries and nature reserves. Outdoor pursuits include horse riding, hiking, mountain biking, fishing, quad biking, mashie golf and water-skiing.
The Green Mountain Eco Route in the Cape Floral Kingdom has numerous self-drive routes and hiking trails.
Also, explore nearby Walker Bay, Hermanus, Kleinmond, Pringle Bay, Rooi Els and Betty’s Bay.
Tours to do
The four-day Green Mountain Trail is a highlight for hikers. Visit an apple museum, and tour the Oude Molen Brandy Distillery. In season, farms and vineyards conduct pack-shed, orchard and cellar tours.
Self-drive is the best way to reach, and explore, the Elgin Valley Wine Route.
What to pack
Elgin experiences wet, cold winters (June to August), so pack accordingly. Cool summers require some form of jersey (jumper) or warm jacket.
Where to stay
Accommodation ranges from farm cottages, guesthouses, B&Bs, hotels and self-catering options to tented accommodation; there are also five-star boutique hotels.
What to eat
Country pubs, casual eateries and farm stalls abound in Elgin. Try South Hill Vineyard’s restaurant, Gordon Manuel@The Venue, for French-inspired country gourmet, the Jailhouse deli in Grabouw for breakfasts and The Bear & Barrel for relaxed hamburgers and steaks. Fresh restaurant at Paul Cluver is a farm garden-to-table dining experience. Oak Valley estate is epicure heaven, with free-range grass-fed beef, acorn-fed pigs, fruit orchards and fresh cut flowers.
The Elgin Valley Market happens every Saturday. Harvest festivals usually take place around April. In summer, local contemporary musicians perform at the Paul Cluver Amphitheatre. Elgin Open Gardens sees 20 gardens open to the public on the last weekend in October and the first weekend in November.
Buy homemade produce, honey, cheeses and olives from the Orchard, Peregrine and Houw Hoek farm stalls. Also for sale are apple cider, apple juice, roses and indigenous plants.