Just an hour from Cape Town, Wellington is one of the Western Cape’s youngest wine districts and makes for a relaxed weekend break.
A historic town, Wellington is packed with beautiful Cape Dutch houses and surrounded by orchards, wine estates and olive groves. Enclosed by the Groenberg, Limietberg, Hawequas, and Sneeukop mountains, the town really is a picturesque base from which to explore the area. A weekend in this little wineland town might include exploring the mountains on foot or by bike, simply soaking up the local flavours in sweet coffee shops or sampling the region’s broad range of wines and artisanal spirits.
Stretch your legs
Thanks to the beautiful setting, visitors to Wellington can enjoy a wide range of outdoor activities — there are a number of walking and hiking trails in the area, including the 36-kilometre Doolhof River Walk, and various routes in the Bainskloof and Limietberg Nature Reserve. There’s also the Wellington Wine Walk — a three or four-day hiking trail that stretches along the foothills of the Hawequas mountains and through olive groves, vineyards and fields of buchu.
Mountain bikers will enjoy the trail at Welvanpas Family Vineyard, which winds through orchards, vineyards, and fynbos before heading up into the Groenberg mountains and down towards the Kromme River and through a natural forest.
Fill your belly
In a pretty, old house in town, the Perfect Place is a great spot for coffee and cake, breakfast, or a light lunch. To start your day the right way, go for the pap and boerewors; Grandma’s oats soaked in buttermilk and whiskey and served with roasted nuts, cinnamon and honey; or corn and coriander fritters with fresh tomato chutney, spinach, bacon and poached eggs. For something sweet (and indulgent), try their milk tart spring rolls; or a pancake topped with nougat, cream caramel, pecan nuts, and ice cream.
A little out of town, on the Dunstone Estate, is The Stone Kitchen Bistro, which serves up classic, home-cooked meals. With a focus on fresh, local, sustainable and seasonal ingredients, the menu offers up options like slow braised and grilled pork ribs; vineyard platters of cold meats, cheeses, homemade chutney, preserves, fruits, and local olives; and vegan-friendly wrap boards packed with produce from the kitchen garden. The wine farm is best known for its Shiraz, so be sure to give it a try.
Sample the local produce
Perhaps lesser known than some of the surrounding wine districts, Wellington has a small, but impressive wine route, which makes for a fun day out. Diemersfontein Wines has a cosy tasting room where guests are invited to taste the full range of wines, including the Diemersfontein Original range, the flagship Carpe Diem range, and the Thokozani range. The estate also includes a guesthouse, a beauty spa, and horse trails. Some other favourites include Doolhof Wine Estate, which produces two white varietals and a number of reds and offers tastings in a renovated wagon house; and Bosman Family Vineyards, whose tasting room was originally part of a 260-year-old cellar.
If wine is not your thing, consider exploring the Wellington Brandy Route, which includes De Compagnie; Nabygelegen Private Cellar; Napier Vineyards; Oude Wellington; and Upland Organic Estate. The Oude Wellington distillery forms part of their quaint restaurant, which is inside a Cape Dutch-style barn dating back to 1795. The menu boasts a range of comfort food, like Cape Malay chicken curry served with geelrys and sambals; parsley and mustard crusted rack of lamb with garlic confit; and cracked black pepper fillet of beef with avocado and shoestring potatoes.
Wellington is also home to James Sedgwick, Africa’s only commercial whisky distillery. The distillery offers tastings, food pairings and tours where guests are able to see how the whiskies are crafted.