The Hemel-en-Aarde Wine Route – the South African centre for exceptional Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
Hemel-En-Aarde Wine Route
Hemel-en-Aarde meaning “Heaven and Earth” in Afrikaans – a young wine route that produces some of the best wines in South Africa. Although it has a similar alignment and proximity to the ocean like the Constantia wine route, this valley is known for its exceptional Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and MCC (Methode Cap Classique – South African sparkling wine).
A small wine route of incredible charm and wine quality. It is further south, has a slightly higher, but more evenly spread rainfall over the seasons and has a lower average temperature over the year.
Routes in the
Hemel-En-Aarde Wine Route
- Because the valley rises up from the ocean over a relatively short distance with a changing terroir (soil type, topography, microclimate), the route along the R320 (Starting from the R43 intersecion) was divided into three distinct areas (appellations):
- Hemel-en-Aarde Valley – Lowest altitude, closest to Hermanus with soils high in clay content – Pinot Noir and Chardonnay dominate – Grapes ripen earliest here on the route. Home to the intrepid and brave pioneers of Hamilton Russell Vineyards. Starts on the R43 intersection and continues up to La Vierge.
- Upper Hemel-en-Aarde Valley – Past La Vierge the majority vineyards are on shale with a high clay content. Grapes ripen later here than lower in the valley.
- Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge – Past Ataraxia as you exit the valley into the Klein River Valley. This is the smallest, but on average highest of the appellations and furthest away from the ocean. These vineyards thrive on stony, clay rich soil that ripens latest of all the areas.
- HermanuPietersFontein – Although these are wines of origin from the only vineyard in the “Sondagskloof”, it is added as their cellar doors and tasting rooms are physically at the start of the valley entrance.
- Whalehaven winery
- Bosman Wines Hermanus
- Bartho Eksteen
- Hamilton Russell Vineyards
- Bouchard Finlayson Winery
- La Vierge Wines
Upper Hemel-en-Aarde Valley
Reasons to visit:
The Hemel-En-Aarde wine route is one of the most scenically beautiful wine regions in the Western Cape. The wine route isn’t only well known for its glamorous wines, but in the past few years, for a few secret culinary delights as well. In this area of scenic beauty, this wine region is well worth a memorable romantic visit. The quaint former fishing village of Hermanus is also worth a visit, or to use as a base to visit this fine valley.
Best time to visit:
This region is beautiful year-round. Expect sunny and warm to hot days in the summer months, unique flowers in spring and whales frolicking in the bay and possibly rainy, crisper days in winter. All seasons, however, have their own unique charms, in this all-season destination. The annual whale festival which takes place in September each year is well worth pre-booking for.
- In comparison to other wine areas, young wine estates and restaurants,
- Varied restaurants from farm fare to fine dining – something for everybody – always with a view
- Walking tours, through romantic vineyards and nature reserves
- Mountain Bike routes
- Short scenic Karwyderskraal mountain pass
- Craft beer brewery
Highlights on the route:
- Views from La Vierge, Newton Johnson, Sumaridge, Spookfontein, Ataraxia and Creation
- Scenic drives
- The vibe and creative tastings at Creation
Things to do or see on the Hemel-En Aarde wine route:
- Horse back riding,
- Organised vineyard hiking,
- Road biking,
- Mountain Biking.
- Hermanuspietersfontein craft market on weekends,
- Art galleries,
- Plaaskombuis traditional farm style restaurant,
- Organic produce at Bartho Eksteen,
- Food markets
South African home grown:
Plaaskombuis original farm restaurant.
© images Jacques Fouché