With its moderate climate and abundant rainfall, the region is one of the most productive farming areas in the country. Set in the middle of the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve, tourism here is growing fast
Only an hour’s drive from Cape Town on the N2 over Sir Lowry’s Pass, the village of Grabouw nestles in the Elgin Valley and, thanks to a moderate climate and abundant rainfall, is one of the most productive farming regions in South Africa.
Now adventure tourism is growing quickly. The valley is almost slap in the middle of the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve. While the Unesco-protected area is the smallest of the world’s floral kingdoms, it is by far the richest with more than 9 000 different species of plants, 6 200 of them endemic – not found anywhere else in the world.
For resident and wine farm owner Kevin King the decision to move to the area in 2000 was a simple one. “Our background in hospitality and passion for wine brought us to the Elgin Valley where we have been able to develop both aspects of our enterprise.
“The unique growing conditions – climate and altitude – enable us to produce premium wines and compete with established brands. Several top-end producers have acquired property to take advantage of the valley’s attributes.”
Elgin wines regularly feature among the five-star winners in the authoritative Platter’s Guide. “There’s a treasure trove of hiking trails, numerous mountain bike routes – the world-famous eight-day Cape Epic stage race has made use of local terrain – and more adventure activities such as canopy tours.”
The Grabouw area is also fast becoming a favourite wedding venue destination. “Property prices have remained relatively stable over the past four years with the 2019 median price for a freehold home in the region of R700 000,” says Harcourt’s agriculture specialist Daniël Joubert.
Vacant plots in Elgin and Grabouw are available for between R210 000 and R400 000. “The buoyant deciduous fruit industry has seen agricultural properties in strong demand with the move from apples to grapes in the early 2000s now swung completely with farmers re-investing in orchards.”
It costs between R450 000 and R500 000 to establish a new orchard and three years to a first harvest. The area is well served by and shops and several good government schools.
Somerset Mall is a 30-minute drive away. While there are no local hospitals, there are several GPs and and other professional services to meet most needs. “The growing leisure economy is offering employment opportunities unheard of five years ago.”
Kevin King’s favourite things to do
The Blue Mountain Trail is a three-day traverse around the south side of the Elgin Valley. Included are farm stays, country food, wine tastings, baggage transfers and a fynbos guide. The trail is 50km, winding through wilderness, forests, fruit farms and fynbos; 028 284 9827
Housed in a transformed flower-packing shed Rojaal has quickly established a reputation for beautifully presented food; 021 204 1085.
Using local woods and organic chips the Hickory Shack emulates the best of Texan dry-rub barbeque; 021 300 1396
Part caravan park, part country lodge and home to a fleet of repurposed, artist-themed Airstream trailers, The Barn at Old Macdaddy is a perfect place to chill; 021 844 0241
The Elgin Railway Market is like no other. Housed in a converted apple warehouse, it operates in different formats seven days a week offering the best in local artisanal produce, craft brews, ciders and coffee. Capetonians can also take a steam train in partnership with the Ceres Rail Company. Departing from the city’s Foreshore it’s a three-hour trip, three-and-a-half hours there and then home – booking essential; 021 204 1158.