To the casual visitor, Wellington might seem stuck in a time warp. The main drag still sports tired art deco arcades, men’s outfitters and corner cafes, but look beyond that and you will quickly spot the energy and vitality that makes Wellington a treasure trove for the tourist in search of something extra special.
Drive through the village and note the decorative Herbert Baker style buildings erected at the turn of the last century when Wellington was a pioneering centre for learning and mission work, established by world-renowned clergyman and educationist Dr Andrew Murray, and still in use today for much the same purpose.
Venture out onto the farm roads and you will be amazed by the array of wineries, guest houses and tourist attractions. Perhaps start on the Hexberg Road where an excellent meal awaits in the gardens of the Au D’Hex Estate, or sample the interesting and diverse range of wines at Bosman Family Vineyards. The farm, which has been in the Bosman family for 8 generations, not only produces award winning wines, but is a major vine nursery hence the selection of unusual varietals on offer in the tasting room.
Take a right and continue up the Bovlei Road to visit some of the handful of wineries located there. One of the first is Val du Charron, also family-owned but totally different from the quiet, lush and historic offering at Bosman, this place is hip and happening, sporting a steak house, a pizzeria, an upmarket guest house and a spa all with a gob-smacking view of the surrounding mountains and vineyards.
Next up is Dunstone, owned by UK-born Lee and Abbi Wallis who have a penchant for Weimaraners and Rhone varietals. Their Stone Kitchen Bistro offers child-friendly, good quality food to match their delicious wines.
Don’t be put off when the road turns to dust, carry on up and you’ll find Nabygelegen and then Welvanpas voted to have the best single track mountain bike trails by the Cape Epic participants. Once you eventually get to Doolhof you will understand the name, meaning ‘labyrinth,’ as you can easily get lost in the labyrinth created by the slopes, gorges and kloofs, but it also ensures that each vineyard has its very own terroir, reflecting this unique spot wedged into the folds of the Bainskloof and Groenberg mountains. There is a man-made labyrinth for you to try and find your way through, but I suggest you attempt it before the wine tasting!
Other wineries to sample would be Diemersfontein, famous for their Pinotage; as well as Linton Park – both owned by UK converts.
Wellington is more than just a succession of beautiful wineries with award-winning wines. Several 5 star guest houses cater for the discerning traveller such as Bartholomeusklip set in a 4 000 hectare game reserve and the award-winning Grand Dédale Guest House on Doolhof. For the more adventurous book a cabin on Bontebok Ridge, off the R44 on the way to Tulbagh. On a game drive you might spot a Kwagga, a previously extinct sub-species of the plains zebra which has recently been re-established.
So make sure Wellington is on your itinerary when next you visit South Africa. While the wines, beds, meals and views are as good, sometimes better, than anywhere else in the Cape Winelands, it still holds the delight of a new discovery that perhaps some of the other better-known destinations don’t. #heartwellington
5Mountains Lodge & Spa – www.5mountainslodge.com
Au d”Hex Estate – www.audehex.co.za
Dunstone – www.dunstone.co.za
Diemersfontein Wine & Country Estate – www.diemersfontein.co.za
The Garden Shed – www.thegardenshed.co.za
The Little Farm on a Stream – www.onastream.co.za
Val du Charron Wine & Olive Estate – www.vdcwines.com
Bartholomeus Klip Farmhouse – www.bartholomeusklip.com
Lady Loch Guest House – www.ladyloch.com
La Rochelle B&B – www.larochelleguesthouse.co.za
Bosman Family Vineyards – www.bosmanwines.com
Wellington Wines – www.wellingtonwines.com
Imbuko – www.imbuko.co.za
Doolhof Wine Estate – www.doolhof.com
Linton Park Wines – www.lintonparkwines.co.za
Diemersfontein – www.diemersfontein.co.za
Interesting things to do
Bainskloof Pass Drive – www.wellington.co.za
The James Sedgwick Distillery Tasting – www.threeshipswhisky.co.za
Bontebok Ridge Reserve Game Drive – www.bontebokridge.co.za
Redemption Fine Hand Crafted Leather – www.redemptionleather.com