Every now and again we plan a girlie weekend somewhere local to keep a finger on the pulse of the best things to do in and around Cape Town. The Hemel en Aarde (in English its Sky and Earth) Valley is a local gem so when we started planning our time away it was an obvious choice. After some research we were able to plan the perfect three-day break with loads of new-to-the-area experiences combined with some old favourites.
We were only able to leave Cape Town quite late on Friday afternoon, but with our surfboards on the roof, the radio cheering us along, and essential snacks (wine & biscuits) purchased and stashed away, it wasn’t long before the urban sprawl was fading and the horizon started looking a little bigger and calling us towards adventure.
One of the biggest drawcards of this area as a week-end destination, is its proximity to the Mother City (1.5 hour drive). Despite leaving late, we were able to squeeze in two fabulous en-route stops. We super-sized our evening cheese board with green figs and biltong from Peregrine Farmstall and visited La Vierge (a wine farm) which has the most beautiful balcony overlooking the valley. Get there before 6pm to enjoy a wine tasting (of some very naughty named wines) or play a game of boulle while watching the sunset.
If you’re more organized than us and manage to leave town earlier, include a visit to Hermanus. Walk the beautiful promenade alongside the harbour, have a swim in a tidal pool or do some shopping in the quaint village shopping centre / market. Hermanus has experienced rapid growth over the last 5 years, but it is at heart, still a fisherman’s village that allows you to take your first deep breath of “I’m on holiday” air.
Home for the week-end was Spookfontein Wine Farm which has two self-catering cottages. White washed walls, four-poster beds and original sash windows had us giving each-other a high-five for having found this brilliant place for only R880 per night for both of us. The trails around the estate aren’t complicated and could easily accommodate runners, mountain bikers or a family with young children just needing to let off some steam after the road trip. If you’d prefer to stay at home, the front stoep (balcony) and well-manicured lawn are crying out for you to throw open the French doors, lift open the windows and light a fire (firewood and firelighters provided) for a braai (barbeque). The lounge has a fireplace so big that you could sleep in it! We’re already contemplating a winter return visit with our respective families to toast marsh mellows and snuggle on the comfy couches.
The cottage has everything you need for a week-end away so pack the essentials for your fridge and plan breakfasts and one meal at home. The atmosphere and décor is so lovely that you’ll enjoy spending time at the cottage.
We woke up early the next morning, excited to experience Hermanus Wine Hopper, a relatively new offering to the valley. This owner managed business has been operating since October 2015 and is a hop-on, hop-off bus service that gives you a wine tasting experience in an open-air game drive vehicle. Yes, that’s right, you don’t have to drive! It’s a no brainer really, and with friendly, safety-conscious drivers, it’s the right thing to do.
Hermanus Pietersfontein was the perfect starting point for the tour, especially on a Saturday when they have a food market and live music. Take a backpack with for your purchases, and buy the home-made bacon jam or try the carrot cake topped with cream cheese frosting, sliced almonds and dried strawberry slivers.
WhaleHaven is an unobtrusive stop and at first glance makes you wonder why you’re tasting wines in the village when there is a valley of estates to explore, but order the wine & chocolate pairing at R75. You won’t be disappointed!
Bouchard Finlayson has a cellar that took our breath away, complete with baby grand piano. R20 for 3 wines and stunning views. What’s not to like.
Sumaridge was hands-down, our favourite estate, with the Epitome being our wine of choice. We didn’t have lunch here, but in retrospect, this would be an amazing stop with a cheese platter on the balcony overlooking the dam.
Creation Wines was our only disappointment. Far too busy and terrible acoustics. If you love nouvelle cuisine, food & wine pairing, and can get a table on the lawn, then you’ll enjoy this stop, but it wasn’t for us.
For all you wine lovers: This area has a temperate climate which makes tasting the Pinot Noir a must.
For dinner, Hermanus is an easy 15 minute drive and we recommend Coco's for unpretentious food with exquisite views or (if you’ve never experienced it) Bientang’s Cave resturant for a unique experience.
As we write this, we’re contemplating our departure day itinerary, but for now, we’re going to chill on the couch a little longer. We’ll be leaving Hemel en Aarde with a memory bank of giggles and adventures and a reconfirmed belief that travel is like a bottle of good wine… best enjoyed with friends and laughter, something that is remembered long after the last drop is drunk.