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The right place to start a tasting tour of the Hermanus wine route is with the Sultan of Sauvignon – big Bartho Eksteen, the incumbent Diners Club Winemaker of the Year (2010) – the Cape’s most exclusive winemakers club. Over a tasting of the new 2010 vintage of his award-winning Nr 5 Sauvignon Blanc, Bartho quips “I was chuffed to win the award with a wooded Sauvignon Blanc up against all those other wines. It stood out like a swart skaap (black sheep)” (the name of Bartho’s Cabernet Franc wine) – and underscored the region’s success with this signature cool-climate variety.
The number of cellars in Walker Bay has grown like the whales visiting Walker Bay over the last decade. I was struck by the number of newer producers exhibiting at the annual three-day Hermanus Wine and Food Fair at Hermanus Wine Village in August. I enjoyed my first taste of the cool-climate wines of Barton Vineyards (Bot River) Brunia Cold Mountain Vineyards (Stanford/Elim), Domaine des Dieux (Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge under new winemaker John Seccombe), Hornbill House (garagiste winemakers in Hermanus), Jakob’s Vineyard (Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge), Elemental Bob (brilliant Turkish/Delight blends from Craig Sheard of Spookfontein), and Seven Springs in the Overberg (a stunning maiden Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay 2010).
Tasting your way up the Hemel-en-Aarde – divided into the new valley, upper and ridge wards – takes visitors from HPF and Whalehaven at 22 metres above sea level to the highest vineyards of Ataraxia at 400 metres. Four signature varieties have made the reputation of the valley – with signature Sauvignon Blanc (24% of all plantings), Chardonnay (20%), Pinot Noir (18%) and, to a lesser extent, Pinotage (12%) – pioneered by Hamilton Russell and Bouchard Finlayson. The higher you climb the more diverse the wines, with a mixed bag of flagship Bordeaux, Cape, Italian and Rhône-style blends from Ashbourne, Bouchard Finlayson (Hannibal), Ataraxia (Serenity), Creation, La Vierge, Newton Johnson and Sumaridge. The valley divides into left (newer cellars) and right (older) banks on south and north-facing slopes.
http://www.wine.co.za/News/news.aspx?NEWSID=18604&Source=News - For more information on this exceptional wine route visit this link.
The Giraffe House Wildlife Awareness Centre is a relatively new centre (in the process of being registered an a non-profit organisation) providing easy access to some of our wonderful wildlife and bird species. Focusing mainly on African wildlife, Giraffe House aims to provide a place for people to enjoy a family picnic in the fresh air, whilst experiencing and learning about animals and cons
Education is our primary focus, and we cater for preschool and school groups. Guided tours will be available on request.
Recreation and relaxation are important in today’s busy world, and Giraffe House offers the family an opportunity to spend affordable quality time together outdoors. Jungle gyms and a giraffe jumping castle are available. There is no restaurant on the permises, but a refreshment kiosk supplies snacks and something to drink. Visitors are welcome to bring a picnic basket. Giraffe House is also a fun kiddies party venue.
www.giraffehouse.co.za - For more info please visit the direct website…
So you would expect to find ‘The only Whale Crier in the World’ right here in Hermanus! The Whale Crier’s kelp horn was first heard in Hermanus in August 1992.
Pieter Claasen, then an employee of the Old Harbour, was the first Whale Crier. Little did he realise when he agreed to dress up in the now familiar regalia what he was letting himself in for. Trips to Cape Town and Johannesburg followed and one of the highlights of Pieter’s time as Whale Crier was his trip to Topsham in the UK where he was Guest of Honour at the annual Town Crier’s competition. He opened the proceedings with a call on his famous kelp horn and then shouted his Hermanus greetings in true Town Crier fashion.
Pieter received a resounding applause and later that day led the colourful procession of Town Criers and floats from far and wide, past crowds of onlookers, down the high street of Topsham.
As the information spread about the wonderful whale watching in Hermanus, so has the media interest increased both in the Whale Crier and the beautiful coastal village.
Pieter gave literally dozens of press and TV interviews that have continued to boost Hermanus as a prime tourist destination.
Pieter was succeeded by Wilson Salukazana, a well respected and dignified figure from Zwelihle, Hermanus. One of his highlights was a visit to Manchester in the UK, representing Hermanus as the only Whale Crier in the World. He walked the cliff path beat for 8 years, imparting his vast knowledge of the whales and Hermanus, until he retired at the age of 66 years.
Godleck Baleni was the next to show off the Whale Crier sandwich boards and blow the kelp horn! He had big shoes to fill and did a sterling job. His huge smile and charming character was a great attraction to visitors.
Pasika Noboba is the current Whale Crier, who took over in 2008. He has tremendous knowledge of both whales and Hermanus and is well respected within all communities for his humility and friendliness, and his passion for children and the elderly.
The Hermanus whale crier does his rounds every day from June to December between 10am and 4pm and can be contacted on his hotline: 0793014665.
With over 3000km of coastline, South Africa offers a world of opportunity for those wanting to experience the deep blue, and get a little wet… here are our top ocean adventures:
Shark cage diving
For those looking for the ultimate ocean adventure, you can’t get more extreme than submerging yourself into a metal cage in the water, to get up close and personal with a Great White! Shark cage diving has shown phenomenal growth in popularity in the last few years, with more and more people keen to take the chance of an encounter with the ocean’s most feared predators.
The Western Cape is notorious for its windy summer days, but for kitesurfing junkies, this offers perfect conditions to hit the waves.
With three quarters of the country being surrounded by coastline, South Africa offers an awesome variety of locations to experience sea life from a decidedly closer vantage point.
Every year, thousands of gentle giants make their way to South African shores to mate and calve. The Western Cape is a hot spot for whale watching, with areas such as False Bay, Mossel Bay and of course, the small coastal town of Hermanus, becoming popular tourist destinations during that time.