TRAVEL

Review: South Hill Vineyards – you arrive as a visitor, you leave as a friend

Originally published on All4Women

A sense of familiarity envelops me as soon as I arrive at the beautiful South Hill Vineyards, a boutique wine farm in Elgin, and a member of Cape Country Routes.

The drive to Elgin from Plettenberg Bay is cheery, in its very essence. It’s a sunny day, and strokes of yellow in the distance – canola fields in all their splendor – make for a happy ride.

We arrive at South Hill Vineyards, situated in the stunning Elgin Valley (or the valley, as locals call it) on a laid-back Saturday afternoon, and it delivers on everything I had hoped it would. Bare vineyards welcome us, as though they were standing at attention.

Margaux, the resident Jack Russell, and a soon-to-be favourite companion of mine, greets us on arrival with a loud and welcoming bark. Following hot on her heels is Sandy King, who along with husband, Kevin, owns the beautiful farm.

Margaux, now lazily basking in the sun

After we exchange pleasantries, we are shown to our rooms in the exquisite guest house, which comfortably sleeps 12 adults (perfect for a weekend away with your group of friends or family). My room is a spacious one, overlooking parts of a garden, and comes equipped with a bath and outdoor shower.

My room

The living room and kitchen are open plan, making for a cosy and intimate space. Gorgeous French doors lead to a patio, with views of the garden and vineyards, and a pool to cool off in on warm, summer days.

We treat ourselves to some house wines before plunging down on the comfy couches in front of the fire. By now the sun is setting, and beautiful hues of yellow, orange and pink erupt in the sky.

The kuier continues at the dining table, where we are served some scrumptious chicken pot pies – regte plaaskos – and I feel like I’ve come home to family.

I opt to sleep in the following morning, the overcast weather adding to my already slothy disposition. Later, I go for a walk on the grounds – captivated by all the greenery, the gorgeous architecture and art, the aloes, standing tall and proud.

We get ready for our “Christmas in July” Sunday lunch (we dress the part, complete with antlers and tinsel and all things Christmassy), where we are joined by Kevin, Sandy, and Paul and Nicky Wallace (owners of Paul Wallace wines, and chair of Elgin Wines & Tourism).

Issa Christmas party!

Our table is laid out beautifully, only outmatched by the mouthwatering plates of food.

Our ‘Christmas’ table

I listen attentively as the Kings and Wallaces speak about Elgin and the surrounding towns. What impresses me most is how passionate they are about their farms, tourism and the greater Elgin area.

There’s a sense of camaraderie there – and a love for what they do; an infectious love. I am surprised at how their passion filters through to me and immediately that sense of “I’ve been here before” hits me again.

And I think I know why.

There’s a familiarity in that passion – to me it’s instantly recognisable.

At South Hill Vineyards, you not only experience charming surrounds, splendid wines and generous hospitality – there’s an ease and comfort that comes with being in the company of people who love what they do, whose sincerity and warmth are palpable.

The next morning, after we enjoy a delightful breakfast, it’s time for us to say goodbye. I leave feeling that I’ve gained something: as a tourist, a traveller, a person.

Today, the sounds of laughter and chatter still echo in my head and I long to be back again in the valley – where you arrive as a visitor and leave as a friend.

Accommodation offering

South Hill Vineyards, a member of Cape Country Routes, offers the following accommodation options:

Guest House

  • Sleeps 12 adults (6 king-size beds, 4 additional beds for children at a cost)
  • The house is available for exclusive use, self-catering

Pumphouse honeymoon cottage

  • Sleeps two adults
  • Bed & breakfast is the norm and self-catering an option, with pre-arranged suppers an option too
  • Overlooking a beautiful dam, mountains and the Pinot vineyards

Houseboat

  • Moored on the banks of the farm’s largest dam
  • Sleeps 8

Opt for a Cape Country Routes package

Cycle the Cape

Stellenbosch – Elgin Valley – De Hoop Nature Reserve

Spend two nights at the elegant Eendracht Hotel & Apartments in picturesque Stellenbosch where fantastic cycle routes are aplenty – from the Stellenbosch Trail Fund-maintained trails along the Eerste river to the many world-class trails in Jonkershoek and Stellenbosch Mountain.

Spend one night at the luxurious 4-star South Hill Vineyards in the heart of the Elgin Valley – a ‘gateway’ to mountain bike routes, including the Lebanon, Paul Cluver and Oak Valley routes. Other outdoor activities include swimming, hiking, kayaking, river cruises, ziplining, shark cage diving or whale watching (with Marine Dynamics) to apple-picking and bird watching. Or you can sample locally made craft cider, visit the local wineries, or simply relax at the South Hill vineyards.

Two nights at the outstanding De Hoop Collection, De Hoop Nature Reserve, one of the Western Cape’s largest and most beautiful nature sanctuaries and the playground of the southern right whales. Activities include walking the Whale Trail (one of the best hikes in South Africa), or taking a guided walk through herds of eland and bontebok to the ocean, go eco-quad biking, river cruising, scenic game driving, whale-watching or visit the Cape Vulture colony, or savour top-quality wines from William’s Wine Cellar in a silo.

Book your stay

Visit the Cape Country Routes website for more information and to book your stay

CCR Central Reservations:  076 203 8929 (also WhatsApp)

Email: bookings@capecountryroutes.com

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