Route 320 along the Hemel en Aarde Valley (Heaven and Earth) is jaw-dropping beautiful! I’ve said that about many places in South Africa, because vistas here are unique and especially captivating to me. I love them! Overwhelmed by the natural beauty of the area, I can sit for hours in awe beholding the remarkable skies, fynbos, sea, and mountains.
Living in South Africa isn’t always easy. When you’re here long-term, there are complicated processes – from banking to cell phones, Internet, electricity, car rentals, and accommodation. Life is very different from the US, and at times, even basic things seem absurdly complex. With each visit, I’m learning the ropes and becoming more patient. Taking trivial things too seriously makes you crazy. The magic of places like the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley overrides an occasional bad day.
Soil and Harmony with Nature
Yesterday I enjoyed exquisite scenery while exploring the Hermanus Wine Route, home to the area’s first vineyards. It was a cool overcast day, not so good for photography, but the weather added to the dramatic skyline and vistas. I stopped for lunch at an award-winning vineyard – Creation.
A vineyard’s location and soil have a major impact on the wine produced. The fifteen or so wineries along the Hermanus Wine Route have “unusually high clay content and pure clay subsoil like the clay contents of the Cote D’Or in France“.
Creation is a member of South Africa’s Biodiversity & Wine Initiative (BWI) “committed to conserving the area’s natural heritage by implementing long-term biodiversity and sustainability programs”. Creation’s farm complies with the guidelines of the Integrated Production of Wine (IPW), and their products bear the IPW seal.
Creation Winery Founders Jean-Claude and Carolyn Martin
In 2002, Jean-Claude (JC) and Carolyn Martin “took up the challenge of establishing a winery in a remote corner of the Walker Bay Wine Region, they did so with the courage of their conviction. The undulating land on the lofty Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge had never been planted to vines before, but recognizing the vast potential, they set out with tenacity and determination to transform it into a model wine farm. No easy feat, but then the Swiss-born JC and South African-born Carolyn (née Finlayson) both come from wine pioneering stock spanning at least three generations and two continents”!
“The clay contents of these soils approximate the clay contents of the Cote D’Or in Burgundy, France.”
Food and Wine Pairing
Creation staff are gracious and the ambiance of the beautifully designed restaurant and tasting room is laid-back. The winery features local artists, including sculptures and paintings displayed inside and on the grounds. The hills are home to leopards, and there are some beautiful leopard sculptings in the garden. You can rent a picturesque holiday cottage in the middle of the vineyards, but there is no electricity, so occupants rely on sunshine, candles, moonlight, and a fireplace.
Staff describe the winery’s processes in a non-intimidating way. They explain the “appellation” of a vineyard and other details of wine making in understandable terms. The visit was a lesson in the pairing of Creation’s famous wines with the delicious food they prepare to compliment it.
Creation is known for its Chardonnay and Pinot Noir:
Chardonnay – “Translucent gold, glistening like dewdrops in the glass. A magnificent composition of warm butterscotch and almond intertwines with fresh lime and delicate quince on the nose. ”
Pinot Noir – “Shiny, deep pomegranate-seed red with a robust bouquet of rose petal, dark cherry, pimento, and anise. Complex and enchanting on the palate, opulent layers of cherry and plum mingling with earthy flavours of mushroom and an elegant sprinkling of spice.”
Lunch included a unique 7-course “taste adventure” of small plate dishes specifically created by Creation’s chefs to “highlight the food-friendly, versatile nature of a cultivar or blend”. It was a delight for the palate!
I’ll be revisiting the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley often during my stay in Hermanus!