The Helderberg wine route is found in the Western Cape, South Africa. It is one of the most beautiful sights to see with serene rolling hills, breath-taking sights, and the oh-so-sweet smell of ripening fruits: indeed, if there is anything to draw you away from your android tablet, the Western Cape will be it!
Originally, Helderberg was called “Hottentots-Holland”, and you may find reference to this name if you speak to some of the old-timers in the area. It was changed mainly to prevent any reason to think of racial discrimination plus the fact that it included the name of another country.
The area you pass when traveling through the Helderberg wine route includes the towns of Somerset, Gordon’s Bay, and Strand. The Helderberg Mountain, which reaches a majestic height of 1137 meters, is a lovely backdrop for the wine farms, and is referred to as The Dome.
The Helderberg Wine Route is also a tour of 20 wine farms and chaired by Bennie Avenant. If you join the tour during the month of June, you can include the “Taste of Helderberg” show which has a limited capacity of 500 persons. During this wine show, you get to sample the Helderberg wines and gourmet dishes that complement each wine. In 2012, the show was held on the 7th of June at the Lord Charles Hotel.
Stellenbosch Vineyards and Helderberg: Sorting Out the Confusion
For some reason, Stellenbosch Vineyards are often mistaken for the main vineyards on the Helderberg wine route. The fact is that there are several wine farms in the area. Stellenbosch, is not part of the Helderberg wine route. Stellenbosch’s first winery was called the Helderberg and it is included in the Stellenbosch wine route located in the Cape Winelands. Helderberg wine route follows a different route along the Western Cape. Besides the beautiful farms, Stellenbosch is, like Grahamstown, also well known as a university town. The presence of the two respective universities draws large numbers of students into the areas, and by proxy, stimulates the local economies.
The Helderberg from Stellenbosch also has the distinction of having produced the first vegan wine. It’s a Sauvignon Blanc and made from herbs, figs, grass, and selected fruits.
Titbits about the Helderberg Wine Route Tour
The Helderberg wine route is considered an offshoot of the Stellenbosch wine route. It starts near Somerset West and travels through 20 or 25 wine farms along the slopes of the Helderberg Mountain. Some of the oldest vineyards are located here, like Vergelegen and Avontuur. You will also be able to see the Post House Cellar, Morgenster Estate, and the Scholtzenhof Vineyards.
In the early days of wine-making in Helderberg, the concentration was solely on red wine. It was only recently that Chardonnay and sparkling white wines were added. To the excitement of many, these white wines were a brilliant success and a good addition to the labels.
The tour cannot be covered in a few hours. Fortunately, there are B&Bs or hotels dotting the route. You can also intersperse the tour with some other kind of rest and relaxation like taking a side trip to the ocean or going shopping.
When you go on the Helderberg win route, you usually start with a visit to Somerset West, which acts like the gateway to the fabulous Helderberg vineyards. The journey will be an adventure unlike any other wine route because of the unique scenery, outstanding labels, a welcoming smile, and best of all, less crowds.Do also bear in mind that wine farms expect good behaviour from their patrons (they are not bars) and have an unspoken dress code. Arriving in your sweaty sports clothing will not endear farm owners and managers to give you good service!