In Their Words
Ataraxia History & Location
Greek for “a serene state of mind, free from worry and preoccupation”, Ataraxia lives up to the hype. Aptly called The Skyfields, Ataraxia Wines is perfectly positioned on a commanding rise in the beautiful Hemel-en-Aarde wine-growing area. Just a short 25 minute drive from the coastal village of Hermanus, a picture-perfect drive brings you to the most elevated part of these winelands. Alternatively, a 90 min drive from Cape Town covers some of the most dramatically beautiful terrain in the Western Cape.
In 2004, The Skyfields Farm was visioned into the Ataraxia wine label when husband and wife, Kevin and Hanli Grant and a few friends purchased this 47-hectare prime vineyard property. Almost two decades on, we are associated with crafting wines of incredible finesse, balance and depth; wines that proudly hold their own on the international wine stage.
At Ataraxia you can experience jaw-dropping vineyard, valley and mountain views, all from our chapel-like Wine Lounge, while sampling some of the most exciting wines South Africa has to offer.
Ataraxia Operating Hours
Wine Tasting: open Mon to Fri 9am-4pm, Sat & Public Holidays 10am-4pm. First come, first served.
Closed Sundays, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Christmas Day & New Year’s Day.
All times, prices and facilities listed are subject to change. We recommend checking latest details directly with the farm and pre-booking experiences wherever possible, to avoid disappointment.
Ataraxia Wine Tasting
Situated within the Walker Bay wine region, Hemel-en-Aarde lies west of Cape Agulhas, Africa’s southernmost tip. Orientated on an east/west axis it is approximately 35 km long and covers some of the most dramatically beautiful terrain in the Western Cape. With its close proximity to the South Atlantic Ocean, the climate is particularly mild, ideal for growing cooler-climate loving grapes.
Our Wine Lounge® tasting room has been described as “surely one of the most spectacular and dramatic positions in the whole world”. Built as a chapel in the vernacular architectural style of the Overberg region, it offers a unique space for relaxed contemplation of the four wines in our range.
Wine Tasting Prices
Four wines make up the main Ataraxia range: an unwooded Sauvignon Blanc, a wooded Chardonnay, a Pinot Noir and a red blend called Serenity. There is a tasting fee of R60pp for all 4, which is waived on purchase of wine. On Saturdays, an extra wine is on offer – the Young Blood Pinot Noir. This is then charged at R75 for all 5 wines.
Please note there is no full service restaurant at Ataraxia, nor are any platters served. There a several superb dining options in nearby Hermanus or the wider Hemel-en-Aarde Valley.
Ataraxia Tours & Activities
Currently Ataraxia do not offer cellar or farm tours.
For cyclists and hikers, there is a MTB course which traverses through Ataraxia, all the way from the bottom of the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley. Cycle permits must be obtained and these can be purchased at ‘Village Cycles’ between Monday to Saturday, which is located at the bottom of the valley road in Hemel-en-Aarde village, next to Wine Village.
Visitors are welcome to hike for free on the trail, however there are also several guiding companies who take people on hikes through this area, including www.glamtrails.co.za/creation-ataraxia and www.africansunroad.com/hermanus-wine-walk/. Please note these tours, guides and routes are not affiliated to Ataraxia and as such they cannot answer queries.
When Lucy Visited
I literally cannot stop smiling about Ataraxia – what an unexpected unique gem! They are simply a MUST VISIT if you’re in the beautiful Hemel en Aarde area – heck, I’d even make the trip again from Cape Town especially.
So What Makes Ataraxia Stand Out?
The setting, the views, the unique Chapel Tasting Room, the modern art and sumptuous plush sofas, the wine, the service. I think when you visit wine farms you want at least all the basics to wow you, and boy did Ataraxia deliver on all counts and more!
Bringing myself back down to earth slightly (can you tell I’m excited just writing this), it’s definitely worth noting however that Ataraxia may not be for everyone. There are no drink offerings other than their 4 / 5 wines and water (very holy, how fitting). There’s no food. No kids’ facilities. And no permanent outside seating. But don’t let that put you off. Sometimes you don’t need all the bells and whistles. Ataraxia will still be a memorable experience without these as they just have that ‘special something’.
So What About The Farm Itself?
As I’ve mentioned in other reviews, ‘Hemel en Aarde’ translates from Afrikaans as ‘Heaven and Earth’. This area was apparently so named due to the valley’s hills which appear to touch the sky, so much so that you “cannot see anything but heaven and earth”. Ataraxia sits at the very top of the valley and it was this proximity to ‘heaven’ which partially inspired the design for the purpose-built Chapel Tasting Room. More on the Chapel shortly.
Most of the wine farms in this cool climate region sit on the scenic R320 mountain road, which links Hemel en Aarde village at the bottom, to the town of Caledon at the top. Ataraxia is found in the upper ‘ridge’ section, and they lay claim to being the most elevated Tasting Room in the HEA area. It’s around a 20 min drive from central Hermanus so super easy.
To reach Ataraxia from the R320, it’s 1-2 kilometres down their private dirt road, which is hilly, bumpy but incredibly scenic. Think row upon row of vines and soaring trees before the iconic Chapel comes into view. I saw some tour companies parked here, however the bigger buses have to park some distance away (then guests walk) but if you have a car you can park right at the Chapel. You may also notice some cycling trails on the way in, note these are NOT managed by Ataraxia (see Tours & Experiences above).
Once at the Chapel, it takes centre stage. Gleaming white, it sits in an open valley basin, surrounded on all sides by vines, a dam, mountains and rolling hills. Such a spectacular panoramic view. And no, it isn’t a converted church, nor do they host weddings or events unfortunately. But in line with the Greek meaning of Ataraxia, it certainly inspires ‘a serene state of mind’ as you enter.
Tell Me About The Chapel…
Inside the light and airy Chapel Tasting Room is where most of the magic (and tastings) happen. You’re greeted by high beamed ceilings leading down to walls adorned with bright and colourful contemporary art, plush deep sofas sitting on wooden laminate floors and a smattering of tables suitable for couples and groups (note all visits are on a first come, first served basis). Although it’s not a massive space, because they don’t serve food I think people linger for less time, so tables rotate fairly frequently. In spite of the limited offerings, we saw couples, groups and families with kids. All are welcome and they give free water with tastings.
We arrived on a beautiful day and they explained that whilst you can sit outside, they offer seat cushions only (i.e. no permanent seating), which you can use to perch on the surrounding patio wall. This is the perfect spot for panoramic views and is handily next to their huge Chapel bell, which you can ring! It was lovely sitting out here but note you would want to sit inside if you had small kids as there was a 6ft–odd drop on to grass from the patio wall.
What About The Wine Tasting?
Only 4 wines make up the Ataraxia range and they have certainly made a name for themselves offering premium minimal intervention wines which focus on the region’s characteristic minerality. Their location on the HEA ‘Ridge’ is home to unique soils and oceanic breezes which, under the expert guidance of renowned winemaker Kevin Grant, produce really fresh, exciting wines.
All wines are wooded (oaked) with the exception of their Sauvignon Blanc. Tastings include this plus their Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and red blend Serenity (50% Pinot Noir, 25% Pinotage & 25% Cinsault) for R60pp. On Saturdays they also offer a ‘bonus’ wine, their ‘Young Blood’ Pinot Noir, for the same price. All wines are estate grown with the exception of the Sauv Blanc, from nearby Elgin.
The staff here were excellent and so clear, explaining the history of the farm and detailed flavour profiles of each wine, which are served one by one. The Sauvignon Blanc was complex with both tropical passion fruit and an unusually smooth and rich finish. The ‘Black Chardonnay’, so named due to the more unusual fermentation process which starts off with the wine looking black, literally blew me away. So creamy, but light grapefruit on the palette and it just oozed elegance. I tried both their Pinot 2017 (smoky, deep berries and oak) and their Young Blood Pinot 2020 (bursting with red fruits, from vines just 2 years old) and was wowed by their juiciness. Finally their red blend Serenity – earthy notes on the nose with a pomegranate and delicate red berry finish. Wow. Wines are priced from between R145 per bottle up to R355 and you can order bottles to drink rather than do a tasting, if you so choose.
A totally unique wine farm in the most spectacular of settings, serving premium, delicious wines in an elegant, modern and relaxed space. Whether it’s sunny, wet or cold, come for the view, fall in love with the wine, let the colour and imagination of their modern artworks inspire you, and leave with amazing memories. And perhaps a bottle or two of that incredible Chardonnay!
The sereneness of Ataraxia is best enjoyed away from the crowds. During the week is generally peaceful anyway, but if visiting on a Saturday, come early to grab the best spot. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!