Wineries of fnb W2W
The Award-Winning Wines
of FNB Wines2Whales
Cool climate wines, from vineyards chilled by sea breezes, define the character of the award-winning vinos from Hemel-en-Aaarde, Botrivier, Elgin and the Helderberg. Much like the trails of FNB Wines2Whales the differences are in the subtleties, instantly recognisable to connoisseurs. Read on to discover some of the intricacies of what makes each region’s wines so special.
The Switchback route of FNB W2W, from Hermanus to Lourensford is sometimes called Whales to Wines. Yet, as any devotee of Dionysus will confirm, the course could as aptly be Wines to Wines. From the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, through Botrivier, up onto the Elgin plateau and down into the Helderberg basin, the wines are superb throughout. Summer’s prevailing south easterly winds have a cooling effect, while the soils, differences in rainfall and location of slopes all impact the terroir.
Departing Hermanus, your first thought as a rider might be of the climbing to come. It could just as easily be to note how the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley funnels cool breezes, sea mists and even rain inland. “The deep valley and high peaks which surround it, along with distinct soils and crisp Atlantic Sea breezes, create a geographically diverse region for producing world-class wines,” Sommelier and Wine Educator Roxanne Waldeck explained. “From their aspects, the vineyards of the Hemel-en-Aarde soak up bountiful sunlight to produce site-specific Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.”
During Stage 1 teams will ride through the Lötter Family Wines, Hamilton Russel, Bouchard Finlayson and La Vierge estates within the valley. The route also passes near the Whalehaven, Southern Right and Bartho Eksteen farms. As well as near the Hermanuspietersfontein tasting room. You probably will not have time to stop at any of these farms, given that registration takes place at Lourensford Wine Estate rather than in Hermanus. The solution is thus to shop online from the Wine Village.
The Wine Village not only boasts a virtually comprehensive range of wines from the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, but it also features wines from throughout the FNB W2W route and further afield too. If you can only schedule one stop on the wine tour, visit the physical store on the corner of the Hemel-en-Aarde road and the R43 into Hermanus. It is certainly worth the visit!
Up the course of Stage 1, Bot River is a blossoming wine region. “The Bot River ward and village in the Overberg region is flanked by the foothills of the Groenlandberg and Babylonstoren mountain ranges. With favourable soils of shale and sandstone, this maritime influenced winegrowing area cradles just enough warmth to produce rich Pinotage and Shiraz and Chenin Blanc,” Waldeck revealed.
It is also the region, arguably, worst affected by September’s floods. Both Wildekrans and Beaumont Family Wines and Wildekrans suffered extensive damage as the Bot River burst its banks, washing debris into their vineyards and orchards while sweeping tons of invaluable topsoil out to sea. History and architecture buffs will be saddened to hear that along with the bridge over the N2, which was damaged in the storm, the 200-year-old Compagnes Drift bridge on the Beaumont estate, was also destroyed by the flood.
The FNB W2W Wine Club
Indulge in exceptional wines while discovering hidden gems along our race route.
The all-new FNB W2W Wine Club has been introduced exclusively for riders of the 2023 FNB Wines2Whales, aiming to enhance their experience with an array of exceptional wineries along the race route.
Registered riders automatically become a member of the FNB W2W Wine Club, and gain exclusive access to special offers and discounts from our partner wineries. Whether seeking a post-ride glass, a thoughtful gift, or a dinner companion, the Wine Club provides a curated selection to meet their needs. We also encourage riders to visit these wineries in person or explore their offerings online.
Find out more here.
Like the Bot River farms, the estates of Elgin suffered major damage this winter. Low lying orchards and vineyards were flooded, roads and mountain bike trails were swept away, and mountain fynbos was uprooted where mudslides rumbled down the Groenlandberg. Paul Cluver and Oak Valley, FNB W2W’s primary farms who have always supported the event with route access and trail building, could now use your support, from wine sales, to help finance their repairs too.
There are ample reasons to support the Elgin farms, as their wines are unquestionably excellent. “The Elgin district lies in the Cape South Coast region on a unique, high-lying plateau overlooking the sea,” Waldeck pointed out. “It boasts the coolest ripening season in South Africa, producing Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc of distinct character, with the integrity of the surrounding features echoed in the wines.”
Paul Cluver’s wines can be purchased online or from the cellar door, which is just off the 2023 Switchback route. However, riding to the finish with a couple of bottles of wine in your jersey pocket is not recommended from a safety point of view. It’s best to drive back after Stage 1 or 2 and stock up from the farm before enjoying your afternoon’s relaxation in the Oak Valley race village.
Oak Valley’s wines are on sale in the race village. The wine shop in the chill zone is a rider’s favourite, as is the bar in the dining marquee. Just remember that glassware, which is essential for enjoying great wine, requires a deposit. Young riders have been known to finance their bar bills by collecting glasses in order to return them for the deposits. Not returning your glass is thus a de facto donation to the development of U23 cyclists in South Africa… Unofficially, of course.
Stage 3 drops from the Elgin plateau into the Helderberg basin. “The Helderberg mountain range, as its gentle slopes face out to False Bay, boasts a wine offering as diverse as its terroir,” Waldeck noted. “With some of the oldest wine estates of the region, Somerset West has a proud reputation for port and red wine, while in recent years is receiving attention for its remarkable, site specific white wines made from Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.”
Idiom, the first of the farms the route passes through in the Helderberg, produces wines as special as the views from the estate’s restaurant and winery. This year, the Switchback route skirts rather than crosses Journey’s End, but their wines remain well worth the journey, of course, though they can be purchased online too. The penultimate farm on the 2023 route is Vergelegen. Riders may not race by the estate’s historic manor house, gardens or vineyards, but rather through the spectacular game reserve higher up on the vast property. With the entrance being located just a few hundred metres from Lourensford’s gate, it is the easiest winery to visit, aside from the grand finale venue itself and Oak Valley.
Host of registration and of the final finish line, Lourensford is as much part of FNB W2W as the most famous trails. The estate’s sparkling wine will erupt for the winners, and with the winery hosting registration, there is no excuse for leaving without at least tasting a glass or two of their wines. If you like what you taste, you can purchase on the spot or online.