Halfway between the bright lights of Cape Town and the statuesque mountains of the Western Cape, lies the hidden valley of Wellington, full of surprises and variety, heart and soul. The Berg River flows along the western border with two smaller streams, the Spruit and Kromme, and the mighty Hawequas stands guard on the eastern side. The Bainskloof Pass, built by the famous Scot, Andrew Geddes Bain, was (before Du Toitskloof Pass) the only gateway to the north.
More French people settled here than anywhere else in the Cape - the valley was initially called Val du Charron (valley of the wagon-makers). It was the last outpost before travellers, pioneers and adventurers attempted the arduous journey into the hinterland with their oxen and wagons.
There were two attempts to name Wellington. It was only when Sir George Napier suggested that the town be named after ‘England’s greatest soldier’ that in 1840 the town of Wellington was proclaimed - after the Duke who defeated Napoleon at Waterloo. This is somewhat ironic considering the town’s forebears.
An electric mix of cultural heritage, cosmopolitan influences and the good life is what awaits you in Wellington. On visiting your first stop has to be the Tourism Bureau. It is located next to the Dutch Reformed Church. A beautiful larger than life granite statue of Christian pioneer, Andrew Murray, welcomes you.
At the Tourism Bureau, you will be provided with a map of the town containing directions to the cellars in and around Wellington. There are a myriad of interesting places such as nurseries, factory outlets, shops, restaurants and historic gems to visit.
Look out for
Eating - Many culinary delights are on offer, waiting to be explored by the easy to please as well as the gourmet connoisseur.
Tasting - Wellington is a wine lover’s delight. It offers a compact 26-member wine route. This comprises 2 large producer cellars, proud wine estates from many generations, a sprinkling of garagiste and 4 pot still producers. All are within easy driving distance from one another. In the last couple of years Wellington has received an impressive array of accolades for its wines, locally and abroad. In 2010 Wellington was awarded the SA Terroir trophy for the Top Wine Area. An overwhelming 80% of rootstock material is propagated in Wellington. It is thanks to the ‘stokkies’ or rootstock nursery that Wellington can truly claim that all excellent wines can trace their origins back to Wellington.
Shopping - Wellington offers a mix of fabulous shopping treats to tourists. It boasts two leather factories producing beautiful and quality leather products such as shoes, handbags, book covers and other smaller articles. There are towel factory shops, fruit juice kiosks selling to the public, glassware gift shops and many other places to browse around in. There are also the more prominent chain stores. Art galleries, antique furniture, ceramic tiles and Bali furniture round off a true shopping experience.
Staying - Should you want to stay for a night or two, Wellington has numerous friendly and hospitable accommodation establishments that would be more than happy to have you. Wellington is ideally situated to explore the beaches of the West and South coasts, the Breede River Valley, the Cape Peninsula, and the rest of the Winelands. Come home every evening to a peaceful night's rest after an exciting day and you will soon discover the magic that will make you want to stay forever.