Wellington is the Cape Winelands’ hidden gem. If you are looking for a unique visiting experience head to Wellington, only an hour from Cape Town. You’ll be pleasantly surprised to find more things to see, taste, smell and experience than you could actually fit into 24 hours, and best of all, Wellington still has that undiscovered, undisturbed charm forever gone from its commercially popular Winelands counterparts.
Start your visit with a glimpse of this history at the Wellington Museum on Church Street, which houses a small collection of local artefacts from the bygone era. Here you can learn the importance of the town’s train station or browse the titles of books written by and about Andrew Murray, the man whose likeness is captured in a statue sitting at the front of the town’s big, centrepiece. Considered to be the father of education in Wellington, this Scotsman is also recognised as a spiritual leader whose teachings attract disciples from as far as China. The museum also has surprising, unexpected exhibits, like one of the largest Egyptology collections in Southern Africa and relics from the ancient lives of Sotho and Tswana tribal folk.
For a taste of Wellington’s modern heritage, there’s the Breytenbach Centre. The building, which was the former home of writer and painter Breyten Breytenbach, was bought by the town for the princely sum of R10 so it could be turned into a haven for local and visiting arty types. Drop in on the right Saturday and you might happen on an exhibit opening in the upstairs gallery featuring work by a local painter, or pop into the gift shop for beautiful, quirky Wellington-made ceramics and glassware. The multi-purpose centre also has a little restaurant theatre in the back called Die Bordienghuis where jazz and blues musicians entertain and brave open-micers serenade audiences on a regular basis.
Wellington is wine country after all, so it would be practically indecent not to go for a tasting or two. The family-friendly Dunstone Winery, sits pretty along Bovlei Road together with several more Wellington estates. The Shiraz, Merlot and special Rosé (it’s made with 100% Shiraz grapes) are tenderly crafted by hand, and behind the farm’s tasting room and its Stone Kitchen restaurant is a mini fairy tale world with a jungle gym, sandpits, giant pillows and blankets on the green grass and the scent of ripe guavas wafting gently in the air. Needless to say, it’s perfect for little ones, and a little exploration will reveal a hidden pond with white, orange-billed ducks preening themselves near the reeds.
While you’re on a serious tasting mission, be sure to call ahead and make an appointment for some sipping and sampling at Bosman Family Vineyards. The eighth-generation farming clan are known for their highly ethical, fair-trade productions, and that genuine goodness comes through in their signature vinos.
Piza Vista at Val du Charron Wine and Leisure Estate is a game-changer. The food is delicious and please believe me when I say that their pizza will change their life. We sat down at a table outside with the most amazing view of the mountains and had ourselves a yummy glass of vino (local of course).
Once you’re away from the centre of town and Wellington’s farming industria, the valley rises and falls with rows of grapevines and pristine green hills that roll out to reveal a stunning landscape all the way to the mountains. A drive up the Bainskloof Pass will give the most spectacular vantage point, and the summit makes for one helluva sunset spot.