Just over 90 minutes drive from Cape Town, venture into the imposing horseshoe of mountains that surround Tulbagh and you quickly understand why, in the 1700s, the Cape’s viticultural pioneers, the Huguenots, chose this fertile valley to settle and farm.

Did you know?

On 29 September 1969, the town of Tulbagh was hit by an earthquake that measured 6.5 on the Richter scale, causing serious damage to most of the historical buildings on Church Street.

The Tulbagh Wine Route encompasses one of the Cape’s oldest wine-producing regions.

The town dates back to 1795, and present-day Tulbagh wine farms such as Theuniskraal, Drostdy-Hof, and Twee Jonge Gezellen’s roots stretch back to the first settlement of the valley.

Wine of Origin status was conferred on Tulbagh in 1971, but it was only in 2002 that 12 wine cellars elected to form an official wine route.

Owing to its considerable size, Tulbagh has no wards, but north of the town, the so-called Little Berg Valley, is where you’ll find some of the finest cellars.

Tulbagh is encircled by the Obiqua Mountains in the west, to the north by the Winterhoek Mountains, and to the east by the Witzenberg Mountains.

These peaks not only give Tulbagh’s well-watered valley, drained by the south-flowing Breë and the north-flowing Berg rivers, a majestic alpine beauty, but the encapsulating horseshoe traps the cool night air in the valley, resulting in relatively cool daytime temperatures despite hot summer months.

This anomaly, along with Tulbagh cellars' northerly position in the valley, sees grapes ripen early and with high acidity – perfect for making its acclaimed Methode Cap Classique wines.

Despite its classification as a coastal wine region, Tulbagh is far removed from the Atlantic Ocean. Rather, the southern slopes of the valley are open to cooling south-east winds in summer. This Mediterranean climate sees Tulbagh cellars receive their rainfall in winter, and often snow on the surrounding mountains.

Geographic diversity is a trademark of Tulbagh, whose mountainous terrain provides a wide variety of altitudes, aspects, and microclimates.

Planting occurs on the valley floor and in the foothills, where winemakers are able to handpick vineyard blocks to suit a particular grape variety owing to Tulbagh’s tremendous diversity of soils that range from high-lying boulder beds to valley-floor shales.

A tour of the Tulbagh Wine Route (it's best to drive yourself) rewards with friendly Boland hospitality and affordably priced, award-winning chenin blanc, cabernet sauvignon and shiraz.

Moreover, with chenin blanc and colombard among Tulbagh wine farms' most planted varieties, lovers of sweet, dessert and brandy wines will not be disappointed.

Traditional though Tulbagh’s old buildings and Dutch gabled, whitewashed wine estates may appear, winemakers here are apace with developments internationally.

The 1969 earthquake may have shaken the town, but Tulbagh’s new breed of terroir-driven winemakers continues to cause a stir.

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