There is something vaguely Hogwart-ish about the Worcester Wine Route. Maybe it’s the witch believed to haunt the peaks on dark nights, the alchemy of burnt wine (brandy) potions, or the Hex Express that magically disappears into the mountainside - but, the illusion ends there. The farming families have been here for generations and only practice magic when growing grapes.
Worcester made history by becoming the first wine producer to bottle wines with Braille labels.
The Worcester Wine Route lies at the heart of the Breede River Valley appellation, and no matter what the season, it is always breathtakingly beautiful here. Guarded by the Matroosberg, and the Hex River Mountains, the Worcester wine district comprises the wards of Aan-de-Doorns, Hex River Valley, Nuy and Scherpenheuwel.
Hot and dry, with low annual rainfall, Worcester’s winelands are traditionally planted in the fertile flood plains of the Breede River. In conjunction with the Breedekloof district, the wine route in Worcester is the largest grape producing region in the Western Cape in terms of wine growing area and volume. It accounts for nearly 20% of the national vineyards and produces close on 27% of South Africa's total volume of wine and spirits. Over 50 per cent of the country’s export table grapes, mainly Barlinka, are produced here.
It's also the Cape’s most prolific brandy producing region and home to the KWV Brandy Cellar, the largest of its kind in the world. Book a tour or tasting and purchase their award-winning brandies.
If understanding how grapes go from vine to table (or bottle) appeals to you, visit one of the family-run vineyards and try grape picking or stomping (treading); visit packing sheds and take a cellar tour. Fruit, olive and dairy farm tours are also available.
The wine industry in Worcester comprises mostly cooperatives, and is known for its everyday affordable reds, whites and fortified wines. Ten estates on the route are open for tasting. However, Worcester is driven by export and wholesale trade, so often only small amounts of selected bottled wine are sold from the estates.
On your way back to Cape Town, stop at the Olof Bergh Cellar in Rawsonville – one of 2 brandy cellars in South Africa that use the Solera method of maturation and blending.
KWV House of Brandy Tel:+27 23 342-0255 Fax: +27 23 347-3084 Email:firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.kwvhouseofbrandy.com
How to get here
From Cape Town, take the N1 to Worcester - about an hour’s drive.
From Ceres follow the R43 south, link to the N1 and follow through to Worcester.
From Villiersdorp follow the R43 north east. The first cellar on the route is Stettyn.
From Robertson follow the R60 through Worcester
Around the area
Canoeing and rafting on the Breede River, mountain biking and 4x4 trails, trout fishing, Golden Valley Casino, golf, hiking, Fairy Glen Nature Reserve (Big 5 – elephant, lion, rhino, buffalo, leopard), gliding.
Tours to do
KWV Brandy Cellar Tour, Karoo National Botanical Gardens, Kleinplasie Living Open Air Museum.
Worcester has 43 historic buildings and the most gables in the Boland to admire.
Pick your own grapes from the vineyards (Feb - May) at De Doorns House Estate
Although just over the mountains from Cape Town, Worcester is farm country. Short of borrowing a donkey to ride, you’d better have your own car, or be travelling with a tour bus.
What will it cost
Wine tasting fees vary at each cellar. You will typically be required to buy a glass in the tasting room to taste their wines. Phone ahead or enquire about prices at the cellar door. KWV Brandy tours are more expensive and must be booked in advance.
Length of stay
You will need a few days to justice to the area
What to pack
In summer, cool clothing, a hat and sunblock. In winter a warm coat and an umbrella.
Where to stay
Aan de Doorns Guest House, Aan de Doorns
Nuyvallei Guest Farm and Audrey’s Vineyard Cottage, Nuy
De Hut, Scherpenheuwel, a working olive tree nursery
Fairy Glen, Worcester - self-catering chalets
What to eat
Cheeses from La Rochelle and Alvi’s Drift
Traditional Cape Cuisine at Kleinplasie Museum.
Taste olives and olive oil at Willow Creek and Olyfberg.
Apples, apricots, table grapes, pears and stone fruits - in season.
Whoosh Festival, the biggest grape treading event in the Cape, usually around March
Breedekloof Outdoors & Wine Festival in October
Worcester AgriExpo, usually around January.
SA Young Wine Show, usually around August
Aan de Doorns Cellar: Red Muskadel
Conradie Family Vineyards: Cabernet Sauvignon
Nuy Cellar: Red and White Muskadel
Willow Creek and Olyfberg olive oil - voted the best in the world 2008.
KWV Brandies - look out for their IMOYA VSOP Alambic Brandy and Van der Hum liqueur.