If God shaped a part of the world all by himself – giving the rest of his staff a day off – the grounds he created on that day, would most definitely include the Hemel and Aarde Valley, near Hermanus, South Africa. This beautiful valley, a little peace of heaven, in between the Cape Winelands, Elgin and the Whale Coast near Hermanus, has an extreme fertile grounds. That – together with the fresh wind/air from the coast, the mountains, sun and great soil – is a good base for vineyards. When Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl are number 1, 2 and 3 destinations to do wine tasting near Cape Town, don’t forget about this Hemel and Aarde Valley. It’s less crowded, more unique, still a bit undiscovered, and close to the whales! (best chance to spot whales between July and October). Today I will share an article with you full of tips to eat and drink your way/day through this valley near Hermanus.
Start with coffee and cake…
at the Saturday morning Food market at Hermanuspieterfontein. Drink coffee, wine or beer with the locals and have delicious carrot cake, burger, South African cheeses and braai bread, while listening to live music. It’s the best way to start a day of wine tasting in Hemel and Aarde. Click here for information and directions.
Taste the crème de la crème at Sumaridge
This hidden gem is one not-to-skip. It’s not a very well known winery, but the wines they have are excellent. Because of the constant fresh air wind, even during hot summer days, the grounds of Sumaridge are excellent for grapes as Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. While these grapes can have tough times when too far from the coast (Sorry Franschhoek*), in the Hemel and Aarde Valley they do very well! Click here for more information about Sumaridge winery.
*In Franschhoek and Stellenbosch it can be hot during summer. Boiling hot. Therefore the average Pinot Noir and Chardonnay results aren’t up standard. Ouch! Not nice to say, but I think it is true. While grapes as Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz can do well in the summer heat, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay just like coolness a bit more, to keep their class and elegance. Of course there are exceptions; The Chardonnay from Chamonix (Franschhoek) is fantastic, and so are the Pinot Noir’s from Meerlust and Muratie (Stellenbosch). But overall the best (and award winning) Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs in South Africa come from cooler areas. Like Hemel and Aarde. I think one can compare the Bourgogne (France) a bit with Hemel and Aarde (South Africa).
‘Like an Angel’ at Ataraxia
This fairy tail-like white church is the home of wine estate Ataraxia. Well known for her label with flying Angel, her Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and the famous Serenity (a secret Red Blend). If you like this wine, be quick after harvest and the release/uncork-feast of the new wine year as they always sell out quickly and therefore the price doubled over the years I lived in SA… A bit of a shame. I can only hope this beautiful place will keep it’s head cool and the quality the same. And don’t get too much influenced or seduces by the news and attention of the day. Click here for the website of Ataraxia.
Food and wine pairing at Creation
Good fun at Creation; the excellent food and wine pairing! Make sure you get a lunch reservation, it is popular and very nice. You will get about 6-7 tapas size dishes, together with a tasting of different Creation wines, and you’ll have an interesting and relaxed 1-2 hours, outside on the grass, or inside if too windy or cold. Good idea to book upfront, click here for the website and different types of arrangements. I like the tapas one. Wine-wise I like their Viognier (white) and their Petit Verdot (red) a lot.
Not to forget
Other interesting places for a pit stop (or tasting stop) in Hemel and Aarde are; Hamilton Russell, Newton Johnson, La Vierge Restaurant, Albeit Winery (taste the Cartology white!!) and Bouchard Finlayson.
Finish the day in the Elgin at Almenkerk
Okay okay, Elgin isn’t Hemel and Aarde Valley any more. But if you driving the route from the Hermanus/Coastal side, upwards via the R320, back towards Stellenbosch/Franschhoek via the N2, you will go through another great wine area; the Elgin. More about this region later, in a separate article. But there eis one vineyard’s name I would like to share with you; Almenkerk. Owned and managed by a Belgium family. Excellent award-winning wine. A stunning place. Go there for a tasting, and make sure you have some luggage space left in your car! Click here for their website.