It’s 2021 and let’s be honest; we’re all a bit gatvol of lockdowns, travel restrictions, and social distancing. Almost everyone I speak to mentions how much they’re longing to travel and see the world again. But, just because an overseas holiday isn’t the best idea right now doesn’t mean travel is out the window. Yes sure, the national lockdown is still a thing, and we all still have to be Covid-conscious, but there are plenty of incredible travel opportunities waiting on our doorstep. This year, why not explore within South Africa and visit one of the many charming small towns in the Western Cape?
The picturesque Boland town of Wellington with its beautiful historic buildings, gracious hospitality and an array of tourist attractions is an inviting destination for a crisp winter’s day. Just an hour’s drive from Cape Town, the charming winelands town offers the ideal destination for a winter weekend away, or if you live in Cape Town, a day trip filled with adventure. I popped to Wellington with a group of journalists for a day of exploring and discovered all sorts of incredible gems just begging to be enjoyed by visitors. Here are my picks for 6 must-visits spots when visiting Wellington.
Wellington Heritage Trails Self-Guided Tour
When you arrive in town it’s advisable to first pop in at the visitors’ information centre next to the majestic Dutch Reformed church, at the top of Main Road for recommendations. If you’re keen on getting stuck in straight away then a good starting point to familiarise yourself with the town would be the Wellington Heritage Trails’ free downloadable audio tour.
This self-guided Wellington Heritage Trail tour will give you a glimpse into the colourful history of the town featuring wagon makers, wine pioneers and female educators, who all played an integral role in the town’s history. For this unique walking tour, an experienced virtual tour guide provides entertaining commentary on the historic attractions and cultural diversity that makes the town and its people come to life. It’s as easy as downloading the free VoiceMap App on your smartphone. The tour is available in Afrikaans, English and German.
The ‘Perfect Place’ for coffee and cake
There’s no better place to be on a rainy winter’s day than a cosy coffee shop packed with charm. If you need a break while enjoying the audio walking tour then the aptly named Perfect Place coffee shop is the ideal spot for a pick-me-up.
This super cute spot, with its homey décor and welcoming staff, is indeed worthy of a visit for a sweet indulgence and a take-away coffee before further exploring the quaint town. If you’ve got time, stay awhile and enjoy the fireplace and a country-style lunch. The banana muffins are to die for and pair beautifully with a heart-warming red latte.
Wine and olive oil tasting at Mont du Toit Kelder
The Wellington wine route is one of the country’s youngest wine districts and boasts one major producer-cellar, family-owned wine estates and a sprinkling of boutique wineries and spirits producers. The compact wine route covers extraordinary diverse terrain, stretching from the Berg River to the Swartland wheat fields and into the foothills of the Hawequa Mountains. If you are keen to explore some of the off the beaten track wine farms, the historic Mont du Toit Kelder should definitely be on your list. Tastings are by appointment only and are well worth it if you have the time.
Wine production at Mont du Toit is focused on the more traditional ‘low tech’ approach. The entire Mont du Toit philosophy relies on growing the right grapes, keeping yields down, doing green harvesting and meticulously selecting only fully ripe fruit by hand during harvest time. Mont du Toit subscribes to the Integrated Production of Wine programme. This sets standards for eco-friendly practices in the vineyards and on the farm.
We had the opportunity to sample a few wines from the range in a tasting led by owner Stephan du Toit, whose passion for wine shines through in every sip of this delicious range. The Mont du Toit Kelder line-up boasts some of the most elegant wines you will ever have the pleasure of sampling. The team at Mont du Toit Kelder focus primarily on red blends but there are also a few fantastic white wine varietals to choose from as well as a delicious rosé.
My favourites of the day included the La Colline Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé 2021 and the Les Coteaux Cabernet Sauvignon 2016. Made in the traditional rosé style, the La Colline Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé is refreshing and lower in alcohol (11.5%). It is the perfect summer wine for lunchtime drinking and ends dry with a fair palate weight. The Cabernet Sauvignon is utter perfection and every sip leaves you wanting more. With mint and herb aromas on the nose and flavours of vibrant cherry and red fruit on the palate, this wine is ideal for long, lingering winter dinners. Its complex flavour profile will delight your taste buds and please even the most discerning wine drinkers.
Retail therapy at Redemption Fine Hand Crafted Leather
Those in the know love Redemption for its high-quality leather products at a reasonable price. If you’re in Wellington then you have to add Redemption Fine Hand Crafted Leather to your list of must-visit spots. Situated on the Altebly family estate, this little shop is packed floor to ceiling with leather creations you can’t resist. The wide selection of leather products includes shoes, sandals, belts, bags, wallets, key-rings, hats and even whips.
The owners and their knowledgeable staff are happy to offer advice and assist visitors to find the perfect fit and product for their needs.
Lunch at the famous Oude Wellington
A visit to Wellington would not be complete without experiencing the exceptional dining offering at the famous Oude Wellington. This quirky restaurant is located inside a Cape Dutch style barn dating back to 1795 at the base of the Bainskloof Pass. It offers the perfect setting for a cosy lunch featuring Dutch and Indonesian inspired dishes prepared by John Tecklenburg. Enjoy daily changing specials, soups and desserts prepared by Susanna Tecklenburg. The hands-on couple will ensure an unforgettable experience. Seating is available in the shade of the enormous oak trees or inside the distilling cellar with big barrels and cosy fireplaces. The working brandy distillery produces pot still brandy and grappa every year.
We popped in for lunch and were treated to a tasting plate of Oude Wellington’s greatest hits from the menu. Our lunch tasting plate included West Coast snoek cakes with lemon mayonnaise (R90), Prawn wontons, soya & chilli dipping (R85), Dutch bitterballen with mustard paint (R85), and Belly of pork with crackling, soya honey glaze & baked apple (R210). Oude Wellington is famous for its Dutch bitterballen and these tasty morsels did not disappoint. The West Coast snoek cakes was another winner of note and the pork belly was so tender it melted in your mouth.
For dessert, we were treated to a sample of Susanna’s famous Koek Terapie, which got many a Wellington local through lockdown with home deliveries. Susanna prepared a beautiful high tea tower for us as well as a Koek Terapie plate of desserts to try. Pop in and try the Koek Terapie (‘Cake Therapy’) cake platter for two at just R85 and let the healing powers of sweet comfort food wash away your worries and stress. We sampled delights like the malva pudding, Classic vanilla crème brûlée, biscuits (R60), and the Belgian chocolate torte with fresh berries (R75). Check out the full menu online here.
A gin tasting at Jorgensen’s Distillery
Wrap up your visit with a gin tasting on the porch of the historic 1812 Cape Dutch manor house on Versailles Farm, which has been the home of the Jorgensen’s Distillery since 1994. The distillery adopted an 1860’s copper pot still, later nicknamed Ugly Betty, which was used by pioneer and master distiller Rodger Jorgensen to masterfully formulate recipes harnessing indigenous flavours. His significant influence on the craft distilling industry of South Africa always involved sharing knowledge, new recipes and skills with distillers throughout the industry.
The Roos family took ownership of the distillery in 2018 and master distiller Quinn Roos adds his own distinctive and unique style to the current Jorgensen’s Distillery line-up with his Wild Rose craft range. This premium, small-batch distilled range honours the kaleidoscope of African botanicals and includes a fynbos, hibiscus, pepper and blue pea gin. Tastings are by appointment only, and it’s a lovely experience for anyone who loves gin. There’s no better way to end off your day than sitting on a porch overlooking a beautiful farm view, with a gin in hand.
Keen to visit Wellington for a day trip or weekend away? Visit the Wellington website for more ideas on what to see when visiting the town and follow their various social media platforms at of @Visit Wellington ZA for the latest news and updates.
After years of working as an Editor and writer for popular websites like Joburg’s Darling, Cape Town’s Darling and Joburg.co.za, Crystal left her sanity and an established career in lifestyle journalism behind to follow her dream of creating a website for the intellectual and discerning woman. Today she spends her time chasing the thrill of being the first to know about ‘the next big thing’. She’ll try anything once and has been known to put her body, hair and health on the line – all in the name of research.