10 of the Breede River Valley’s best-kept secrets

Posted by Claudia Hodkinson on 11 January 2012

On a recent tour of the Breede River Valley, I found out there is more to this Western Cape area than just vineyards and wine. We navigated our way to the source of all things good: exceptional food, stunning scenery, down-to-earth people and choice outdoor adventures. Here are 10 cherry-picked things I got to experience on the tour.

Sowing the seeds of love

The quaint Fairhills Craft and Coffee Shop in Rawsonville is one of those places you know is in existence because of loving hands and open hearts. Managed by two ‘boerevroue’ – wives of two local producers involved in the Fairhills project – they use local talent and skill to deliver delicacies for the taste buds and top craft products for the credit card. I enjoyed my share of great coffee and warm muffins in this cozy setting.
www.fairhills.co.za

The only national monument guesthouse in Worcester, Uitvlugt Guest House really does deliver an authentic experience to guests. I spent a night in one of the five luxury reconverted stables on the property. I spent a delightful morning in the company of Heléne and her team in the renovated cellar, where we were served arguably one of the best breakfasts I have had in a long time. The recently renovated cellar has been transformed into an excellent function and conference facility and exudes an old-world charm perfect for a romantic and private wedding.
www.uitvlugtguesthouse.co.za

There is something warm about giving back to a community through your visit. One such place is The Blind Spot in Worcester, which aims to empower the disabled community in the area. Guests can take a journey through the tactile fossil trail at the centre, with a trained guide, where an extraordinary collection of fossils are on display to touch and study. The visually impaired residents will host guests in exclusive style at the Blind Spot Theatre where a special performance can be enjoyed over a light meal. The residents at The Blind Spot extend their warmth and hospitality to you, so swing by and walk away enriched.
www.blind-institute.org.za

Ripe for the picking

I have had the fortunate experience to pair wines with food before, but my experience at uniWines took on a different form and rather piqued my interest. Sampling lemon, soya sauce, apple, cheddar and mozzarella before drinking the selected wine, offered a different perspective to wining and dining, and demonstrated how radically a wine can taste after eating such foods. Wines featured included Meander, Groot Eiland, Palesa and Ankerman wines each with their own blend and unique history. The Moscato Meander, a flamboyantly fizzy, sweet wine with delicious mouthwatering flavours, was a firm favourite.
www.uniwines.co.za

Brutal fruit

Never been much of a brandy drinker myself, a visit to the KWV House of Brandy demanded a new respect for this acquired drink. Derived from the Dutch word brandewijn, meaning ‘burnt wine’, KWV brandy is made through wine tempered by fire and smoothed by time. Taking a short tour through the cellar, I learnt that the process involved in making brandy is remarkably complex, not only taking sheer dedication by all those involved, but the utmost of patience. So the next time you take a sip, ensure you take the time to identify the aromas and ponder the complexities of this fine drink.
www.kwvbrandy.co.za

Freshly squeezed

The latest addition to Goudini Spa is the Slanghoek Villas. With enviable views of the valley, this is the perfect place to take stock of the surrounding beauty and indulge your senses. There are 22 villas to choose from, each with a private veranda and covered braai. A short walk will find you at the indoor and outdoor pools, jacuzzi’s and mineral baths, the perfect place to let off some steam before you enjoy the sun setting from your veranda.
www.goudinispa.co.za

All pipped out

If you consider yourself an aficionado of olives and olive oil, or you just plain adore olives in all shapes and forms, then a visit to Willow Creek in the Nuy Valley is an absolute must.  We were treated to a tasting of their extra virgin olive oils, infused olive oils, table olives, tapenade, olive pesto’s and Cabernet Sauvignon balsamic vinegar and were suitably impressed by their range. I came away with the basil infused olive oil and the chilli tapenade in hand. The inviting bistro next door serves hearty breakfasts, light lunches and sweet treats.
www.willowcreek.co.za

At the core

On the surface, the sleepy town of De Doorns, at the heart of the Hex River Valley, may seem just like another Cape dorpie. However, there is much more to this area if you take the time to look a little deeper. One way to accomplish this is to take a journey on the Hexpas Express Ecotrek, a train ride that takes guests on a historical awakening of the area. On my train tour from De Doorns into the Matroosberg Mountains, our knowledgeable guide pointed out fascinating historical, cultural and natural treasures such as remnants of old British stone forts and hillside ovens and medicinal uses of local plants. Another way to explore the area is to book yourself onto the Botterboom Hiking Trail.
www.worcester.org.za/hexpaseco

In season

Located to get the benefit of cooling winds in summer and sufficient rainfall in winter, Bergsig Estate is ideally located where the Drakenstein and Hex River Mountains meet. De Wet Lategan, being the sixth generation winemaker at the farm (if that doesn’t speak for itself then I am not sure what does), talked us through the estate’s winemaking process and after tasting a few of their best wines, a lunch of seasonal salad and chicken pie at Bergsig Bistro was on the menu. Combine a lunch with a cellar tour and some wine tasting for an enjoyable outing.
www.bergsig.co.za

With 4500 hectares of Fynbos, Succulent Karoo and rare Renosterveld vegetation, Aquila Private Game Reserve is set in scenic surrounds. If you need your fix of the Big Five, and you view habituated game as a perfect photo opportunity, then you will not be disappointed with close sightings and landscape opportunities to photograph. By definition, not the authentic African bush I have come to appreciate, it would suit first time guests to the continent and those that are on a tight schedule looking for an instant and typical-style safari.
www.aquilasafari.com

How to get to Breede River Valley

The Breede River Valley covers a large area extending from Gouda in the west, Montagu in the east, McGregor in the south and the Karoo in the north. The N1 passes more or less through the centre passing Rawsonville, Worcester, De Doorns and Touws River. There are approximately 10 scenic routes that one can choose from depending on which way you enter the valley. A particular favourite amongst travellers is Route 62.

 

Thanks to Don Valley and Cape Winelands District Municipality for arranging the experience. For more information on the Breede River Valley visit www.breedevalleytourism.co.za

 

Click here for more accommodation options in the Breede River Valley.

 

Breede River Valley pic courtesy of Riverlodge.

 

 

 






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