Spanning just under 20 000 hectares, the Worcester district is South Africa’s largest wine district by area and volume. It’s planted under nearly 20% of the country’s vineyards and produces close on 29% of our brandy. The district includes the Nuy Valley, De Doorns and the R43 area, well known among locals for its value-for-money wines.
Characterised by rolling hills blanketed with green vineyards, the Worcester district has many gems just waiting to be discovered this spring. Spanning just under 20 000 hectares this is South Africa’s largest wine district by area and volume. It’s planted under nearly 20% of the country’s vineyards and produces close on 29% of our brandy. The district includes the Nuy Valley, De Doorns and the R43 area, well known among locals for its value-for-money wines.
When planning your visit, it’s a good idea to start with the Worcester Wine and Olive Route as it covers the valley’s 12 wine cellars and an olive estate. Heading out on the R43 from Villiersdorp towards Worcester, your first place of interest is Stettyn Cellar which has been in the Botha family for eight generations. A wide range of wines, grape juice and cheese and wine platters are available at this impressive venue. Further along the R43 is Welgemoed Farm where value-for-money Eagle’s Cliff wines are made under the watchful eye of 2013 and 2017 Diner’s Club Winemaker of the Year, Christiaan Groenewald. The range also includes Arendskloof wines for connoisseurs. Wine tastings cost R40 a person and at The Bistro @ Eagle’s Cliff you can enjoy brunch and lunch on weekdays. Next you’ll find Brandvlei Cellar, named after the original Brandende Vlei, a reference to the hot springs in this area. The cellar is open for wine tastings Monday to Friday.
Heading towards Robertson on the R60 from Worcester you find Overhex Winery and Bistro, a firm family favourite thanks to its artisanal pizzas and large kiddies’ play area. You can enjoy a food and wine pairing inthe tasting room or breakfast or lunch in the bistro.
Nuy Winery, also on the R60, is home to Nuy on the Hill which serves an astonishing variety of dishes, from tapas and pizzas to burgers and steak. The restaurant, with its beautiful mountain views, is worth a visit after you’ve tasted Nuy’s range of wines. Although known for award-winning muscadels, Nuy also has gin, brandy and craft beer for the adventurous taster.
Conradie-Penhill Artisanal Wines is the new kid on the block. Established in 2015, this award-winning boutique winery in the Nuy Valley is owned by Gareth and Kate Penny of Penhill Manor and fifth-generation winemaker of Conradie Family Vineyards, CP Conradie. The winery is open for wine tastings and sales from Monday to Sunday and cellar tours can be arranged by appointment. While you’re in the vicinity, pop in at Saggy Stone on the Amandalia Wine and Fruit Farm, where you’ll find their fine microbrewery, brewpub and restaurant.
Located in the off-the-beaten-track Klipbokkop Mountain Reserve, Mountain Brewing Co is the first microbrewery in Worcester. Pure sandstone water is used to brew the wide range of craft beers which can be sampled at the Brewhouse Pub and go well with the pub fare such as biltong, sausages and mash, burgers or steak. Tutored tastings with brewmaster PG Groenewald are available by prior arrangement. The reserve itself offers superb 4×4 tracks and is home to the GT Adventure Academy that provides off-road training. There’s accommodation in rooms overlooking the Brandvlei Dam plus self-catering options. The reserve is also a birdwatcher’s paradise.
Speaking of fauna and flora, did you know you can enjoy a game drive, complete with the Big Five, only an hour’s drive from Cape Town? At Fairy Glen you can get up close and personal with lions, elephants, buffalos, rhinos and the elusive mountain leopard. View them from atop an open vehicle or on horseback. There are also nature trails for hikers. Overnight accommodation is provided.
In the De Wet Valley you’ll find Six Dogs Distillery. What started in a shed that was home to six dogs and a copper-geyser-turned-still, is today the production site of Six Dogs Distillery craft gin. The gin is infused with various plants, from Karoo plants such as the thorn flower and wild lavender to the Indonesian blue pea flower. Only pure mountain water is used to make these handcrafted gins.
The oldest cellar in the Worcester area is De Wet Cellar, visible from the N1 going towards De Doorns. The renovated tasting room is a modern, elegant space with an outdoor patio where guests can sample a wide range of wines, from Cap Classique and dry table wines to semisweet and sweet wines, and grape juice. There’s also a 30-km challenging mountain bike route for experienced riders only. Permits for the route are available from the cellar. Leipzig Country House and Winery also lies in the Nuy Valley. Here you can enjoy the sunset while being driven through the vineyards on a tractor and trailer. A longer tractor ride, the Nuy Valley Drive, takes you on a tour of the entire valley and includes stops at Conradie Family Vineyards and the internationally acclaimed Willow Creek Olive Estate. Wine tastings include the well-known White Leipzig and there’s also a wine blending experience for wannabe winemakers. Accommodation is provided in either luxury en suite rooms or a self-catering unit. Other estates worth a visit include Aan de Doorns, Alvi’s Drift, Cilmore and De Doorns.
Foodies can enjoy the local fare on offer in the area. The Pampoen Padstal near Worcester is well known for its excellent coffee and shelves stocked with farm produce. On the first Saturday of every month except January you can sample the best local produce at the Pure Boland Farmers’ Market held at the Green Shed in Worcester. The open-air Moonlight Market is held on the last Friday of every month at Q-Square, also in Worcester. Here you’ll find everything from pizzas and pancakes to beer and coffee.