For many only a spot they will pass when driving from Cape Town to the popular beachside and whale watching town of Hermanus, the small community of Bot River is one of the lesser known wine growing areas of the Western Cape Winelands well worth a stop of its own. Find out more about the area and which wineries to visit for excellent wine tasting opportunities in this post.
As everybody who travels knows very well, things will go wrong. No matter how careful you have planned everything.
I had planned a full day exploring the Bot River wine area in the Overberg during my stay in the Elgin Valley. In fact, the area is basically next door, a short 10 to 15 minutes drive and the boundaries between the wineries belonging to Elgin Valley and Bot River are somewhat fluid.
Except that exactly the evening before my camera decided to stop working. It simply went black and that was it. Which meant, scrapping Bot River and going directly to Hermanus, my next stop on the map to sort out the issue.
The good news was, Bot River is located not too far from Hermanus on the route back to Cape Town, that I had anyway planned to drive two days later. That however meant, I would not have the full day I had planned and needed to skip a few places and cut down on the experience.
So I was not at all happy with this solution, I decided to give it a go and at least get some rough idea of the area.
Touted as one of the excellent emerging new wine areas in South Africa’s Western Cape Winelands, Bot River is part of the recently created Green Mountain Eco Route, the first biodiversity wine route in the world which meanders for 75 kilometres around the Green Mountain in the Overberg, including Elgin Valley, Grabouw, Bot River, Houw Hoek and Villiersdorp.
There are currently 14 wineries part of the Bot River official wine route; and even though visiting only three I am quite comfortable to say the area offers a fantastic range of different wineries and wine tasting experiences that’s well worth putting on your list.
How to get to Bot River
The Bot River wine growing area is located around the small town of Botriver in the former Caledon district in the Overberg, just over 90 kilometres from Cape Town.
There is no public transport from Cape Town to the area, so the best way to get to Bot River is driving.
The shortest connection from Cape Twon to Botriver is to follow N2 via Somerset West and the scenic Sir Lowry Pass. Alternatively, take the scenic coastal route following R44 from Somerset West (make sure to stop at Betty’s Bay to see the penguin colony and the pelicans and flamingos at the Bot River Lagoon), then carry on on R43 to Botriver.
A short history of Bot River
Botrivier Valley once was the home of the Khoi-Khoi who settled on the banks of the river with their livestock. That’s when the area was known as ‘Couga’ which translates into ‘abundance of fat’. The same name also translated to ‘butter’ and butter was in fact the main product produced and traded by the Khoi.
Later on in the 18 century the area became an outpost for the Dutch East India Company who founded Compagnes Drift Farm here. Today, the site of this farm is the home to one of the area’s best wineries.
What you should know visiting Bot River wineries
Not a very touristy wine growing area, albeit no longer a secret to South Africans, not all Bot River wineries are open to visitors. Of those who are, some might still require advance appointments.
In this post, I focus on wineries open to visitors on a regular basis. For a more comprehensive guide on local wineries, I suggest you consult to Bot River Wine Estates site.
Three excellent wineries not to be missed in Bot River
Dating back to the early 1800s when it was part of a larger farm, Wildekransis one of the oldest farms in the Bot River area. It started life as a sheep and cattle farm growing also grain and onions at the time whilst the first vines were planted only something over one hundred years ago.
The wine cellar, which was built between the 1920s and 1930s still features concrete open kuipers and tanks.
One of the few wine farms in the Bot River area open to visitors on a regular schedule, Wildekrans offers a huge range of activities from wine tasting to the on-side restaurant, mountain biking, horse riding, bird watching and other wildlife opportunities. Thus you should definitely set some time aside for your visit.
Opting either for bed and breakfast or self-catering, you could also check in at Birch Cottage, an historic Cape cottage sitting next to a couple of birch trees
Open daily 10 am – 5 pm (Sunday 11 am – 4 pm). Restaurant is closed on Monday.
Beaumont Family Wines
Originally called Compagnes Drift Farm and an outpost for the Dutch East India Company in the 18th century, the historic estate today is home to second generation family-run Beaumont Wines founded in 1974.
Though offering tantalizing wine experiences along with food platters, there are many more reasons to stop by (or spend an entire day) at Beaumont Wines.
The estate is a member of the Groenlandberg Conservancy in the Kogelberg Biosphere and the majority of the estate’s 400 hectares features a large mountain area where you will find the indigenous fynbos along with a variety of bird species. There are many kilometres of mountain trails for hiking and mountain biking.
For a special vineyard experience, the farm also offers two lovely small self-catering cottages.
A definite highlight on-site is the historic water mill. It’s been brought back into operation a couple of years ago and today you can observe how bread is made in a traditional way using water to generate energy for wheat grinding.
Open Mon – Fri, 10 am – 4.30 pm; Sat 10 am – 3 pm
Gabrielskloof Wine Estate
Established in the early 2000s, Grabrielskloofhas made an excellent name producing a range of superb wines using sustainable and ethical production methods.
In addition to wine, the winery also produces an award-winning olive oil.
The small on-site restaurant offers a menu based on produce sourced mainly at the nearby farms and is open daily for breakfast and lunch.
Open Mon – Fri, 9am – 5 pm; Sat 11am – 3 pm; Sun only the restaurant is open.
Have you been to Bot River yet? Which wineries did you visit? Let me know about your experience.