A visit to Hermanus is simply not complete without heading up the valley to experience the Hemel-en-Aarde region. As residents, most of us have taken visitors to our award-winning wine estates, many of which have thriving tasting venues that not only offer wine tastings, but also innovative food and wine pairings, platters and picnics.

Hemel-en-Aarde also boasts several restaurants that serve excellent food in idyllic settings with enchanting views, and spectacular function venues that have turned the valley into a sought-after destination for special celebrations, especially weddings.

There is no better time to explore our valley than spring, when the advent of warmer weather is heralded by the delicate budding of vines and the explosion of colour as many fynbos species start to bloom.

Bona Dea Private Estate, hailed as one of the most romantic and dramatic locations in South Africa, is a unique wedding and function venue situated on the mountain slopes, with breathtaking views of the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley. Framed by the beautiful scenery that provides the ultimate backdrop for any celebration or corporate event (a photographer’s dream!), the Bona Dea experience is augmented by professional and personalised service excellence.

“Bona Dea is a venue for all occasions,” says General Manager, Rina de Wet. “Our events team will customise your special occasion to create a delightfully different and exclusive experience – from executive functions and team-building weekends to engagements, weddings and honeymoons, and from family reunions or special birthday celebrations to a luxury country escape with a handful of close friends.”

The estate offers a range of facilities and services on site, including a stately Manor House with luxurious reception rooms, a magical ballroom with glittering fairy lights ceiling, an indoor chapel, fully-equipped kitchen, flowers, and furniture and décor hire. There is also the option of renting the spectacular Mountain Villa, a self-catering holiday villa with five beautifully decorated suites, opulent living spaces with expansive patios, a pool, jacuzzi and steam room.

For more information, contact 028 050 0370 or office@bonadea.co.za or visit www.bonadea.co.za

There is no shortage of romantic venues in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, such as Sumaridge

A little further up the valley you’ll find Sumaridge Estate Wines, a picture-perfect wine estate where the cellar and tasting venue are gracefully set among manicured lawns overlooking a private dam. British owners, Simon and Holly Bellingham-Turner, are based in Surrey but have made Hermanus their second home. Both are firm supporters of the local art community and the tasting room hosts different art exhibitions during the year.

The view from the tasting room balcony stretches across the valley, from the imposing mountains and hectares of thriving vineyards all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. From this vantage point, visitors can enjoy a tasting of the estate’s award-winning and distinctively elegant wines – they produce an extensive range that includes an excellent Methode Cap Classique, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Pinotage, Rosé and some highly-acclaimed blends – accompanied by a selection of delicious platters prepared from local, seasonal produce.

On sunny days visitors are welcome to enjoy their wine and platters outside in the shade of a romantic willow tree next to the dam, while the children run around on the lawn and play on the jungle gym. During the summer months Sumaridge often hosts special events and outdoor concerts that are not to be missed.

Contact the Sumaridge tasting room on 028 312 1097 for more information or visit www.sumaridge.co.za.

When I have visitors to entertain I am often in a quandary as to where to take them, especially if time is limited, because the Hemel-en-Aarde region offers so much that I’m literally spoilt for choice. Fortunately, whenever my relatives from Austria visit, they make it very easy for me as Spookfontein Restaurant is usually at the top of their wish list. Ever since our first visit almost three years ago, they have wanted to go back time and time again. And who can blame them? Together we have spent many a laid-back and indulgent meal in the delightful restaurant adjacent to the wine cellar on the Spookfontein farm.

The natural materials, curved lines and circular shapes of architect DJ Carr’s design are in perfect harmony with the scenic surroundings and the mesmerising views. The atmosphere is super-chilled, the service friendly and welcoming, the food beautifully prepared and the wine top notch. “There is a different vibe up here on this beautiful farm,” says restaurant manager and co-owner Vaughan van Blerk. “It’s a peaceful and relaxing environment – a place where people can get away from it all and unwind.”

In charge of the kitchen is talented chef, Charl du Preez, who trained at Warwick’s Chef School and started his career in Hermanus before gaining valuable experience as a private chef in Spain and at the five-star Bushman’s Kloof Wilderness and Wellness Retreat in the Cederberg Mountains. He returned to Hermanus to join Vaughan when he took over Spookfontein Restaurant at the end of 2016. The menu is small, but varied and the dishes have been carefully selected to reflect Spookfontein’s creative and rather quirky take on rustic country food. The wine list offers a selection of great local wines, including those from the estate.

You’ll find more details at www.spookfontein.co.za. Call 073 067 7936 to make a booking.

If buying wine is your main objective and you don’t have the time to meander up the valley and visit all the wine estates, look no further than Hermanus’s iconic wine shop, the Wine Village, situated at Hemel-en-Aarde Village, the gateway to the Hermanus Wine Route. Here you’ll find one of the largest collections of South African wine under one roof.

Wine Village opened its doors 21 years ago with wines from 19 producers and has since grown to represent 260 South African wine producers, with more than 2 600 wines, gins, brandies and other wine-related products on their shelves. The layout of the store, which you are encouraged to explore with tasting glass in hand, is whites on one side, reds on the other, in two very spacious ‘wine libraries’.

Owner Paul du Toit is a natural teacher with a passion for the industry, so don’t expect to simply walk in and buy wine. No, you walk in and you have an experience, from the warm welcome of every member of staff to the invitation to taste the day’s selection of fine South African wines. The Wine Village team believes that every wine has a story and they delight in sharing these stories with their customers, teaching them about wine, giving them the opportunity to try something new and different, and making sure everyone leaves the shop with a smile and a wish to return. It is little wonder that most visitors to the shop turn into lifelong wine friends.

From 28 – 29 September, Wine Village will be hosting the 20th annual Wine & Food festival at Curro Hermanus. Although a wine festival at heart (with gins, brandies and craft beers sharing the limelight), this year’s edition will include a whole new line-up of events and activities for the whole family, including an extended spread of food vendors and food trucks, a sushi and oyster jukebox lounge, a pop-up MCC and cake bar, live music concerts, and a sensory play park for kids with gaming, rides and a petting zoo.

Tickets are R150 pp (free entry for U18s) and include a 350 ml crystal wine glass, wine tasting, access to all festival arenas and pop-up areas, and entry to the live music and concerts. Contact Wine Village on 028 316 3988 for more information or visit www.winevillage.co.za.

Wine Village is not the only attraction of Hemel-en-Aarde Village. Here you will also find two other wineries – Whalehaven and Hermanuspietersfontein – as well as the Hermanus Brewery, and a family restaurant called EAT. Owned by JF van der Westhuizen (he was christened Jan-Frederik but everyone just calls him JF), EAT does not offer fine dining but rather focuses on what JF calls “wholesome, unpretentious, bistro-style food at affordable prices”. Since taking over the restaurant earlier this year, JF has added comfort food specials to the menu such as waterblommetjie bredie, oxtail, lamb shank and a curry bunny chow.

JF grew up in small towns all over the country – from Hoopstad and Ficksburg in the Free State to Warmbaths (now Bela-Bela) in Limpopo and Ventersdorp in the North West Province – and has made his way down to Hermanus via several detours. Trained at the Meerendal Hospitality Academy in Durbanville, where he studied under one of the country’s top chefs, David Higgs, JF went on to work at several establishments in the Cape Winelands, at the Moolmanshoek Private Game Reserve near Ficksburg, and at a five-star hotel in Dubai.

He always nurtured the dream of having his own restaurant, says JF, who now has the opportunity to treat diners to his own, unique style of cooking. The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and offers a delicious buffet on Sundays. Call 028 316 2348 to make a booking.

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