In Their Words
Whalehaven History & Location
Named after the protective bay which shelters breeding Southern Right whales in the cool Cape winter months, Whalehaven is a boutique winery situated in Hemel-en-Aarde who create a delightful array of wines which intrigue and tantalise the palate.
The winery has been owned by the Bottega Family since 2003 and is the third oldest wine producer in the Hemel-en-Aarde region, carefully crafting wines since 1995. Our artisan winery has a strong reputation for crafting a classic range of wine largely made from French single varieties, particularly a world-class Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Cabernet Franc.
The Whalehaven Winery and Tasting Room is right at the foot of the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley just a 10 minute drive outside Hermanus, and we invite you to come and taste our selection of hand crafted wines.
Whalehaven Operating Hours
Wine Tasting: open Mon to Fri 9am-4.30pm & Sat to Sun 10am-4pm.
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.
Whalehaven Wine Tasting
Our coastal origin wines deliver a signature elegance with soft tannin structure and clean, precise flavours. The white wines exhibit beautiful minerality and our red wines offer clarity of fruit that are expressive, complex and balanced with velvety tannins. We have a wide range of wines across our Old Harbour, Whalehaven, Abalone and Conservation Coast ranges.
Whalehaven offers a small number of wine tasting experiences including a chocolate pairing, which explores the fruit and floral flavours brought out in the different wines. Jams and chocolates are also available for purchase at the winery.
Wine Tasting Prices
The Wine Purist tasting experience allows guests to taste 4 signature wines for R60pp. The Wine and Floral chocolate tasting pairs locally handmade, floral-infused chocolates with 4 award-winning wines, for R75pp (booking recommended). Finally our Reserve tasting includes some of Whalehaven’s rarest wines, for R200pp (bookings essential, minimum 4 people). Please note we also offer tailormade wine tasting packages for groups or special occasions – please contact the winery for details.
The winery does not have a restaurant, however there are many options in nearby Hermanus, approximately 10 mins away by car.
Whalehaven Tours & Activities
Currently Whalehaven do not offer cellar tours as standard, however should regularly organise tailormade wine tasting packages for groups of up to 16 people. Bookings are essential so contact the winery for more information.
When Lucy Visited
Whalehaven is not the traditional ‘wine farm’ experience in that it is more of a cellar door, but don’t let that put you off. It’s ideally located in the heart of Hemel en Aarde village, has lovely and knowledgeable staff, plus great wines and a really delicious artisan chocolate and wine pairing!
So What Makes Whalehaven Winery Stand Out?
Owned by the Bottega family who own Idiom Wines in Somerset West/Stellenbosch and the fun ‘hop on hop off’ Hermanus Wine Hoppers transfer service, Whalehaven is actually the 3rd oldest winery in the Hemel en Aarde region. Within the group, they produce a broad range of wines, reflecting both the cool maritime conditions of the Hermanus winegrowing region and their own mountain vineyards in Stellenbosch. There will be a wine to suit all palates and their handmade perfumed chocolate pairing really brought out this diversity.
So What About The Winery Itself?
As mentioned, this is not a traditional wine ‘farm’ with extensive lawns, vineyards, views and facilities. There are no jungle gyms or food menus (I’m not counting the chocolate pairing!) – it is very much a cellar door winery experience. They source and carefully select from the best vineyards and in many cases have long standing arrangements with producers in the area. These include vineyards in the Upper Hemel-en-Aarde Valley as well as vineyards located at the top of the Hemel en Aarde valley. This is known as The Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge, which is a 10-15 minute drive up the R320 mountain road which starts right outside Whalehaven.
The winery is not hard to miss as it’s a large, grey building well signposted in the village, within walking distance to other shops. Outside, they have 1 or 2 pub tables, however most visitors sit inside as it is a lovely airy and modern space, with high ceilings, modern Scandinavian style decor and a few spacious tables. There are some windows where you can get outside glimpses of the valley as it climbs up, but this is not somewhere to come for a view. Instead it’s a lovely intimate and friendly cellar door where you call in to learn a bit more about their wines, do a tasting, meet the staff and then probably carry on to the next wine farm.
If you’re thinking of large group tastings, they do have a dedicated separate modern space with floor to ceiling glass doors which they can use. It peeks into their cellar and stainless steel tanks which is fun – call for more info.
What About The Wine Tasting?
I’ve been here twice and both times the staff were excellent. It’s small and sociable, so you can chat a bit more with them than in other busier farms – they are very passionate. This time it was the lovely Ilse-Joy hosting me. It’s mostly small adult groups.
As mentioned, they have a large wine selection across several ranges. Wine tasting is R60pp for 4 ‘Purist’ varietals (i.e. not blends – you can pick your 4 from a choice of 5), or they offer a Handmade Artisan Chocolate & 4 set Wines for R75pp, or they have the Conservation Coast 4 wines Reserve Tasting for R200pp, which focuses solely on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay (which this area is so famous for). Their Chenins, Pinotage and Cab Franc are grown on the warmer Idiom farm in Somerset West, all others including their Pinot Noir, Chardonnay etc are grown in their cool climate vineyards locally on the Hemel en Aarde Ridge.
I picked the chocolate pairing, which was fantastic! The wine selection can vary as they had just tweaked it to better match the chocs – when I visited it included a 2020 Chenin/Viognier blend (which they only produce every few years), their 2018 Pinot Noir, their highly awarded 2014 Cab Franc and a 2015 Pinotage. The perfumed chocolates included Orange Blossom & White Choc, Rose and Rooibos, Lavender and Fynbos Dark Chocolate. I loved how the flavours were so local and not just generic ‘salt’ and ‘sweet’. They really do change the flavour profiles of the wine – my favourite was the Cabernet Franc, notes of plum, vanilla, smoky, smooth and full bodied. Yum! You can purchase wines from there and it’s worth noting they have a huge selection.
A straightforward modern winery/cellar door which offers a great introduction to the wines of this region which you can easily then also compare to their warmer climate Somerset West varietals. Prices are really affordable – bottles from around R90 – and its village location makes it an easy combination with any other wine farm in the area. If you don’t feel like driving, take a look at their sister company, the Hermanus Wine Hopper: www.winehoppers.co.za/ which always starts here.
If you’re visiting on a Saturday, why not combine Whalehaven with the two other HEA Village cellar doors: Hermanuspietersfontein and the Hermanus Wine Village. Hermanuspietersfontein have a fun little food market from 9am-1pm on Sat and Hermanus Wine Village is an incredible one stop shop with over 3000 SA wine labels – they offer wine tastings too. Both are within a 3 minute walk.