The town of Wellington in the Western Cape has an old-world charm about it that can’t be replicated. It’s known for its beautiful historic buildings that hold hundreds of years of stories – gracious hospitality and an array of tourism attractions.
It is a unique wineland destination – there are only 29 wine farms in the area – which makes the service that much more personalised and extra special. The stories from winemakers themselves are longer, hairier and intriguing all in the same breath.
Wellington is also far more affordable as far as wine destinations go – and that personalised touch is where they get hospitality right.
A good starting point to familiarise yourself with the town, would be the Wellington Heritage Trails’ free downloadable audio tour. This self-guided Wellington Heritage Trail tour will give you a glimpse into the colourful history of the town featuring wagon makers, wine pioneers and female educators, who all played an integral role in the town’s history. An experienced virtual tour guide provides entertaining commentary on the historic attractions and cultural diversity that makes the town and its people come to life. It’s as easy as downloading the free VoiceMap App on your smartphone – available in Afrikaans, English and German.
The aptly named Perfect Place is indeed worthy of a visit for a sweet indulgence or country-style lunch. The eatery is filled with aromas of freshly brewed coffee and home-baked goodness – the smell you want wafting through the restaurant you are dining at. There are nooks and corners to social distance, and bits and bobs on display to add history to your meal.
The Wellington wine route is one of the country’s youngest wine districts and boasts one major producer-cellar, family-owned wine estates and a sprinkling of boutique wineries and spirits producers. The compact wine route covers extraordinary diverse terrain, stretching from the Berg River to the Swartland wheat fields and into the foothills of the Hawequa Mountains. If you are keen to explore some of the off the beaten track wine farms, the historic Mont du Toit Kelder should definitely be on your list. Tastings are by appointment only.
But the real charm of this 26 hectares of vines is the owner – Stephan du Toit. His passion for the vines he grows and the wine the estate produces is visible in every sip of vino. Most impressive are the stories he regales of his father, and the legacy that is Mont du Toit Kelder.
Du Toit is most proud of old fashion techniques they use to hand-pick and make each and every bottle of wine – it’s all in the human act of love that the wine tastes so distinguished and memorable. And he is very right – the wines are exceptional – well balanced, rich and unique in their flavours.
The entire Mont du Toit philosophy relies on growing the right grapes, keeping yields down, doing green harvesting and meticulously selecting only fully ripe fruit by hand during harvest time. Mont du Toit subscribes to the Integrated Production of Wine programme. This sets standards for eco-friendly practices in the vineyards and on the farm.
If you’re lucky enough to enjoy a tasting with Stephan, savour his tales and his wines.
A visit to Wellington would not complete without experience the exceptional dining offering at the Oude Wellington. This quirky restaurant is located inside a Cape Dutch style barn dating back to 1795 at the base of the Bainskloof Pass. It offers the perfect setting for a cosy lunch featuring Dutch and Indonesian inspired dishes prepared by John Tecklenburg. Enjoy daily changing specials, soups and deserts prepared by Susanna Tecklenburg. The hands on couple will ensure an unforgettable experience. Seating is available in the shade of the enormous oak trees or inside the distilling cellar with big barrels and cosy fireplaces. The working brandy distillery produces pot still brandy and grappa every year.
For the finest high quality leather products at a reasonable price, you have to add Redemption Fine Hand Crafted Leather on the Altebly family estate to your list. The owners and their knowledgeable staff are happy to offer advice and assist visitors. The wide selection of leather products includes shoes, sandals, belts, bags, wallets, key-rings, hats and whips. Every piece is crafted with love, care and for durability.
Wrap up your visit with a gin tasting on the porch of the historic 1812 Cape Dutch manor house on Versailles Farm, which has been the home of the Jorgensen’s Distillery since 1994. The distillery adopted an 1860’s copper pot still, later nicknamed Ugly Betty, which was used by pioneer and master distiller Rodger Jorgensen to masterfully formulate recipes harnessing indigenous flavours. His significant influence on the craft distilling industry of South Africa always involved sharing knowledge, new recipes and skills with distillers throughout the industry.
The Roos family took ownership of the distillery in 2018 and master distiller Quinn Roos adds his own distinctive and unique style to the current Jorgensen’s Distillery line-up with his Wild Rose craft range. And this is what sets their gin apart from the rest – the family involvement. This premium, small batch distilled range honours the kaleidoscope of African botanicals and includes a fynbos, hibiscus, pepper and blue pea gin. Tastings by appointment only.
You can easily put together your very own itinerary by visiting www.wellington.co.za – there is something for the kids, much for the adults and even pet-friendly activities. There’s no better time to explore your own backyard than right now.