Located 1 hour east of Cape Town, Elgin Vintners dates back to 1890 and is nestled between vineyards and fruit orchards, surrounded by the Kogelberg and Hottentots Holland mountains.
In addition to wine tasting and food pairings, the farm is a popular wedding venue and we also boast a 4 star Country House.
Just a one hour drive from Cape Town, the tranquil Elgin Valley is reached via the spectacular Sir Lowry’s Pass, which cuts through the Hottentots-Holland mountains and Kogelberg Nature Reserve. Part of the Overberg’s ‘Cape Floral Kingdom’, this area is renowned for being one of the world’s most diverse biospheres; a day or overnight trip to the wine farms of Elgin makes for a memorable getaway.
Centred around the town of Grabouw and surrounded on all four sides by mountains, Elgin Valley is predominantly an agricultural area, notable for its extensive apple and pear orchards.
Elgin was largely underdeveloped until the late 1800s, when a series of events changed the course of its history. A key milestone was the arrival of Sir Antonie Viljoen, who in 1898 planted the first apple trees. Then in 1902, a railway line reached Grabouw, suddenly connecting rural Elgin to the outside world. Finally, in 1903, an influential farming family named Molteno arrived, who quickly went on to form a vast farming enterprise, catapulting Elgin into becoming one of the largest fruit exporters in the world. To this day, 60% of the national apple crop comes from Elgin. It was also here in 1966 that the drink ‘Appletiser’ was created, now exported heavily around the world.
Whilst vineyards were also a feature of Elgin in the early 1900s, wine production halted in the 1940s. It was only in the mid-1980s that vines were replanted, and so the modern Elgin wine industry as we know it was reborn. Today, less than 800 hectares of Elgin are under vine, yet the region has taken the wine industry by storm, becoming synonymous with exciting, award-winning cool-climate wines.
Elgin is located around 300 metres above sea level and is encircled by the Hottentot-Holland mountain range. These same mountains separate Elgin from its well known wine-producing neighbour, Stellenbosch.
Apart from the higher altitude, the Elgin region is only a mere 12 kilometres inland from the Atlantic Ocean, so cool mists often drift through. These two factors contribute to the area’s relatively cool climate, resulting in wines that are generally lighter, mineral-driven and displaying a lovely depth of flavour, due to the slower, more gradual ripening of the grapes.
Elgin’s terroir is best suited to Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir – however other cultivars are also present, such as Shiraz, Merlot, Petit Verdot and usually, Riesling. Such is the uniqueness and quality of grapes from Elgin that several other winemaking regions import grapes from here to add fruity complexity and minerality to their own region’s wines.
Though small in size, the Elgin Wine Route consists of 13 farms, ranging from boutique wineries to larger, commercial wine producers. They even have a dedicated bubbly Cap Classique estate and the area is also known for its delicious cider. Mostly off the beaten track, expect intimate wine tastings, food and wine pairing options, cellar tours and charming country style dining.
Elgin Valley is renowned for its diverse array of flora and fauna and sits close to several lush nature reserves. Along with its flanking mountain ranges, it makes for an ideal place to spend time in the outdoors.
If you enjoy hiking, trail running or mountain biking, there is plenty to see while you’re here as several wine farms have their own impressive networks of trails. If speed is your thing, why not try a zipline canopy tour in the Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve.
With its beautiful surroundings and many activities, Elgin, South Africa (not to be confused online with Elgin, Scotland!) has grown increasingly popular over the last few years as a holiday and wedding destination. It’s also a well-known pit stop for travellers thanks to its numerous farm stalls and cafés selling homegrown country produce.
During the summer, the valley usually holds a number of annual events and festivals, such as the Elgin Wine Festival. Here you can call into various farms and sample local foods, buy cut flowers, drink wine and listen to live music performed by local artists.
Another novel experience is visiting the Elgin Railway Market in Grabouw. You can catch a steam train to Elgin Market from Cape Town, or visit before or after a wine farm. Housed in an old apple warehouse next to the old station, the bustling market has a ‘Steampunk Art Deco’ style and here you’ll find craft products and delicious, locally made foods.
While a day trip to Elgin from Cape Town is more than doable, spending a night or two is ideal. The valley boasts a range of accommodation from romantic, quaint cottages to luxury rooms on wine farms, plus quirky family-friendly lodgings such as Old Mac Daddy. There’s something for everyone in this wonderfully exciting wine region!
For more information, refer to: www.elgingrabouw.co.za/farm-index-wines-of-elgin-2/.