Hemel en Aarde Valley is a new wine region in South Africa. This is one of the reasons why it isn’t as popular as the other wine regions in the country. But what Hemel and Aarde lacks in history it more than makes up with its beautiful scenery and the quality of the wine that it produces.
Heaven on Earth
As wine regions go, the Hemel en Aarde Valley is really beautiful. This is why people called it Hemel en Aarde, which means Heaven on Earth. Considering that there are many breath-taking wine regions in South Africa, being called “heaven” means that Hemel en Aarde Valley must really be something else.
As mentioned, Hemel en Aarde Valley is a new wine region. Before that, the area was known as Walker Bay. In 2004, Walker was made from a ward into a district. Because of the upgrade, new wards were allowed to be created within Walker Bay. In 2006, two Hemel en Aarde wards were created followed by a third one in 2009. Those wards are Hemel en Aarde Valley, Upper Hemel en Aarde Valley, and the Hemel en Aarde Ridge.
Winemaking in Hemel en Aarde Valley
The first modern grapevine plantings in Hemel en Aarde were done by Hamilton Russell back in 1976, with the first vintage in 1981. These days the Hamilton Russell vineyard specializes in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. In 1991, a winemaker for Hamilton Russell by the name of Peter Finlayson struck out on his own and founded Bouchard Finlayson. These two producers and others in the region are making wine from Hemel en Aarde Valley more popular.
In the past few years, more producers are starting to turn up in the Hemel en Aarde Valley and they are coming up with excellent wines. Pinot Noir has been established as the unofficial specialty of this wine region. The soil and the climate in the region are well suited to Chardonnay as well. The Hemel en Aarde Valley is blessed with a cool climate. Rainfall there is higher when compared with other regions in South Africa. The high rainfall has the advantage of making irrigation unnecessary.
Things to Do in the Hemel en Aarde Valley
For starters you can visit the Hermanus Wine Route which is one of the newest wine routes in South Africa. This wine route covers fifteen wineries in the Walker Bay region. You can also visit the Hermanuspietersfontein Food and Wine Market which is open every Saturday. You can also check out the beaches in the area when you are done tasting wines from the many producers there.
The Hemel en Aarde Valley is characterized by being connected with nature. While the same thing can be said with other wine regions, in the case of Hemel en Aarde Valley it is even more so. The best proof of that is how most of the wineries in the region are members of Integrated Production of Wine (IPW) and Biodiversity and Wine Initiative (BWI). This means that they aim to preserve the nature within the area while aiming to produce the highest quality when it comes to their wine.
One great way that you can enjoy the more picturesque routes in the Hemel en Aarde Valley is by mountain biking. You can enjoy the fresh mountain air while you are discovering the wineries that the route has to offer. One awesome place that you need to visit in the region is the Fernkloof Nature Reserve which has a 17km circular trail that is ideal for mountain bikers.
The Hemel en Aarde Valley is worth a visit aside from the excellent wineries that you can find there. The sights alone can make the trip worthwhile.