5 exquisite wine estates in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley in South Africa

When Belinda Carlisle sang her hit: ‘Ooh, heaven is a place on earth, they say in heaven, love comes first’, she surely did not know about the Hemel-en-Aarde (Heaven and Earth) Valley near Hermanus! Otherwise she would perhaps have sung: ‘They say in heaven, wine comes first’! Until 2006 this part was known as Walker Bay, but then became known as the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley. You will need quite a few days to fully explore the cellar and restaurant experiences, so do make use of the wine farms’ accommodation or sleep over in Hermanus, a seaside town nearby and well-known for whale watching.

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The Hemel-en-Aarde Valley is really any wine lover’s ultimate destination. With the towering Babylonstoren Mountains and indigenous fynbos-covered hills as background, you cannot imagine something more breath taking. There are many remarkable wines produced by the Hemel-en-Aarde winemakers, but accolades over the years show the Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays outdid them all.

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So let us start on our tour of a few of these applauded wine farms:

La Vierge Winery and Restaurant

When walking on the catwalk over the steel wine tanks to the restaurant and taste room, you experience a subdued feeling of anticipation. Something is going to happen soon! And then it happens: before your eyes you see the picturesque valley far below bordered by the cold Atlantic Ocean – an indescribably beautiful view. We read the warning: ‘Look out for the stunning views and great ambiance’, but did not expect this!

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The unique flavours of the wine, paired with the taste of delish dishes from the restaurant, all add to please your senses. You can even glance through the colourful art collection or play a game of boule on the champagne terrace while you are around. If you have the time, consider doing a cellar tour by appointment.

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Newton Johnson Vineyards

We are still in the Upper Hemel-en-Aarde Valley ward, one of the premium wine regions of the Cape. After more than 20 years, Newton Johnson’s Vineyards are apparently recognised worldwide for Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah blends and Sauvignon Blanc. The wines exhibit an assortment of qualities from clay and granitic soils.

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The stunning view from the tasting room brings a new dimension to wine tasting.

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Adjoining the tasting room, you will find The Restaurant at Newton Johnson, where you can combine gourmet cuisine with five star wines. There is a relaxed atmosphere and guests can watch the food preparation in the open kitchen.

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Spookfontein

According to a legend, you can see a ghost or spirit in the streaming waters of the natural spring (‘Spookfontein’ literally means Ghost Fountain). According to the winemaker, they keep their style of wine-making simple and true to the character of the land and soil (terroir wines). They see themselves as a boutique hands-on winery, mostly accustomed to Bordeaux variety. There are 11 ha of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir grapes planted on the farm. Visiting the tasting room is an exquisite experience. At the restaurant the chefs and their team invite you to take a culinary journey whilst experiencing the panoramic views of the valley.

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Ataraxia

A state of serene calmness – this is the meaning of Ataraxia and this is Ataraxia. High on a hill at the base of the Babylonstoren Mountains, you will find Ataraxia’s ‘Wine Lounge’ where you can taste their wines of unparalleled quality and immaculate class.

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The ‘Wine Lounge’ is a unique location – a dramatic and symbolic setting from where you can cherish Ataraxia’s wines. It is a beautiful church-like building, with stylish interior, including interesting works of art.

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Located close to the cold Atlantic Ocean, the vines are cultivated in an exceptional terroir, which can be traced back more than 1000 million years ago.

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Creation Wines

This mountainside property with its reminiscent name, was ‘created’ in 2002.

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A very special feature at Creation Wines is that young and old are equally welcome in their charming Tasting Room! There are eight wine paring options of which the 10AM Brunch Pairing, the Paradoxical Chocolate Pairing and the Non-Alcoholic Tapas and Tea Paring are perhaps the most interesting, but the Surprise Pairing for Kids, the most amazing.

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You can also do an informative tour of their vineyards and wine cellar, admire the contemporary art on display, or just enjoy the bordering fynbos (indigenous shrubs) gardens.

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And do make sure to end your tasting experience in the ‘contemporary cool, family friendly’ restaurant.

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If you spend time to meet the magnificent charms of the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, you will definitely depart as a friend forever!

Celine Renaud is Head of Sales for Leo Trippi.

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