Saronsberg, in the Tulbagh Valley, will host the Absa Cape Epic for the fifth time in the race’s 20-year history. The prestigious farm has been an agricultural mainstay of the region since it was first settled in the 1700s, but since 2002 the focus has been virtually exclusively on wine, which has seen Saronsberg win innumerable awards.
Saronsberg, like the Absa Cape Epic, produced their first vintage in 2004. The farm’s storied history long pre-dates those initial bottles of Sauvignon Blanc however. Founded as part of Twee Jonge Gezellen the current estate was subdivided into Waveren and Welgegund in the 1950s. In 2002 Waveren and Welgegund were amalgamated into Saronsberg by Nick van Huyssteen.
While the farm’s terroir is perfect for wine farming, it is also a place of exceptional beauty. With jagged mountain ranges to the west, north and east, and the fertile upper Breede River Valley to the south it’s easy to see why early farmers valued the Tulbagh valley so greatly. Sculptures compliment the natural beauty of Saronsberg, while in the winery precious works of art adorn the walls.
Beyond Saronsberg the valley is home to fruit orchards, fertile wheat fields and the Absa Cape Epic’s official water partner Thirsti. Many of the farms provide access to the race and most feature exceptional singletracks, especially those nestled high on the mountainsides of the ranges around the town. The village itself is an eclectic mix of old and new, of historic Cape Dutch homesteads and modern architecture.
One of the most remarkable events in Tulbagh’s 300-year history was the earthquake in 1969. Sadly, it destroyed the old Dutch Reformed church at Kruisvallei, which was built in 1878. The modernist replacement is an example of how even an old institution, like the Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk, was lured into the angular design style. While the 50 year-old ‘new’ church has its own appeal, it lacks the eternal charm of a nineteenth century church at the heart of a small South African town. It does however serve as a daily reminder, for the town’s residents, of the events of 29 September 1969 and the 12 lives lost that fateful day.
Visit Tulbagh: www.tulbaghtourism.co.za
Visit Saronsberg: www.saronsberg.com
Route Director's Tip
Straight away there’s the longest climb and the longest descent of the day. Then the fun stuff starts. We linked up the very best around Meerendal so it’s worth really savouring these trails and enjoying the moment – the time you’ll make up by racing full gas has minimal rewards compared to the rest of the week.