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A wine-infused trip to remember: Helderberg Wine Route

Set out on an epicurean adventure that takes in township cuisine, the world-class wineries of the Helderberg Wine Route, the orchards of the Elgin Valley and ocean-fresh seafood in coastal Hermanus for a road trip that can never be forgotten.

The route is 100 km's and the highlights can be sampled in a day. But to soak up the many flavours of the region, take the journey at a more leisurely pace, spending a night or two in countryside hotels.

Start from Cape Town

The Helderberg Wine Route draws together some 30 wine estates dotted across the lower slopes of the Helderberg massif, many affording picturesque views down to the sparkling waters of False Bay. The fine terroir, ocean vistas and historic estates of Cape Helderberg are comparable to those of the world-famous Stellenbosch wine region, a short distance north. Like its acclaimed neighbour, Helderberg is within striking distance of Cape Town — a mere 45-minute drive southeast on the N2 highway. But it attracts just a fraction of the visitors, making it the ideal destination for gourmands looking to get off the beaten path.

Don't forget about Khayelitsha

A fascinating — and surprising — culinary detour en route to the winelands lies just off the highway in the township of Khayelitsha. Fresh vegetarian fare can be found at Spinach King, an innovative shipping-container bakery specialising in healthy, on-the-go bites and gluten-free spinach rolls. Alternatively, linger for a long lunch at Abigail Mbalo’s chic 4Roomed eKasi Culture restaurant, open Friday-Sunday. The former MasterChef South Africa contestant elevates the township cuisine of her youth with playful takes on traditional dishes like mleqwa (chicken stew) and umqa (pumpkin and corn).

A little something to nibble on: Somerset West to Avontuur Estate Restaurant

Continuing southeast, the main highway delivers you to Somerset West, the centremost town of the Helderberg basin, which has various accommodation options — although the beach towns of Strand and Gordon’s Bay make equally charming bases from which to tour the wine estates. Dotted along the R44 road to Stellenbosch are several notable wineries. Don’t miss the award-winning Avontuur Estate with its thoroughbred stud farm, and Longridge with its emphasis on organic and biodynamic winemaking. Remember to call ahead to secure tastings and cellar tours.

Nearer to Somerset West, a cluster of historic estates sit on the picturesque lower slopes of the Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve. Morgenster [] is known for its olive groves and sumptuous Cape Dutch-style manor as much as for its fine reds. Enjoy al fresco oil and wine tastings under a vine-laden pergola or tuck into a pairing menu at the Italian restaurant 95 at Morgenster. Within walking distance is Vergelegen Wine Estate, which dates back to 1700. Its smart picnic lawns, lavender garden, maze, walking trails and trio of restaurants make it one of the most visited properties in the region. Nearby, too, is the trendy Lourensford Market — an assortment of more than 70 permanent vendors and additional pop ups selling local produce and handcrafts on Friday evenings and Sundays during the summer season.

A road worthy of a Knighthood: Sir Lowry’s Pass to Elgin Valley

Leaving the Helderberg basin via Sir Lowry’s Pass you descend into the Cape Overberg, home to its own clutch of cooler-climate vineyards, including the family-run Beaumont and Oak Valley Wines. Both properties have cottages for overnight visitors wishing to stay on and explore the region’s apple and pear orchards, tackle mountain bike trails or pass a lazy day fishing. Houw Hoek Farm Stall is great place to rent rods and tackle, and to pick up a picnic hamper full of local produce.

A destination just as good as the preceeding journey: Hermanus

At Bot River, take the R43 to the coast to arrive at Hermanus. This welcoming port town offers some the world’s finest ocean safaris: southern right whales pass close to the shore between June and December to mate and calve. Standing out from Hermanus’s burgeoning gastronomic scene are the homely Fisherman’s Cottage and the oceanfront Bientang's Cave, both serving up sensationally fresh oysters, grilled linefish, and traditional seafood potjies (pot stews) to hungry mariners and travellers alike.

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