In combining the dedication of our local farmers to the highest quality standards with the imaginative foraging of ingredients indigenous to our area we believe that Hermanus offers the finest, most varied and creative gastronomic experiences in the country. This is the basis upon which we are bidding to become South Africa’s first UNESCO City of Gastronomy.
Hermanus bidding to become South Africa’s first UNESCO City of Gastronomy
Hermanus is situated in the southern Cape of South Africa in the region of Overstrand. This picturesque region lies about 115 kilometers from Cape Town and has world-renowned vineyards yielding wines of acclaimed international repute. The pristine environment of greater Hermanus attracts large numbers of tourists, both local and international, to Hermanus where the ocean provides sustainable fishing from Kleinmond to Gansbaai, while the valleys and the farms produce food and fruit of exceptional quality and freshness. Locals and tourists alike visit the numerous food markets and festivals in the town and surrounding areas where local produce is at its finest.
Among the many other attractions in the area is the unsurpassed whale watching from the easily accessible fynbos covered cliffs. Southern Right whales migrate from the ice-cold polar region of the southern hemisphere to the coastal waters of South Africa from June to November, with the sheltered Walker Bay being ideal for mating, calving, nursing and play.
En route to Hermanus from Cape Town is the historic town of Bot River. The indigenous Khoisan people used to produce rich butter from their livestock in rich pastures along the banks of the Couga River. Merchants travelled from Cape Town to trade their wares for the butter produced here, and named the river “Botter Rivier” as early as 1672. Today the rustic old watermill in the town has been fully restored and is used to grind flour to make farm bread.
The Hermanus Wine Route is of spectacular beauty and diversity, benefitting from sunshine, the maritime climate of the Atlantic Ocean, cooling winds, good rainfall and gravelly sandstone, quartstone and Bokkeveld shale derived clay loam. These ancient soils are 450-million years old. The wine farms in the area offer scenic splendour and viticultural excellence.
On the other side of Hermanus one finds Gansbaai and the Grootbos Foundation and Grootbos Nature Reserve. The Foundation supports projects such as Green Fingers where local women develop their small scale agricultural skills and learn entrepreneurship, supplying Grootbos and creating opportunities for their families and communities.
Understanding that it is food and wine together that enhances the dining experience, Grootbos has developed its wine and culinary visions in tandem, offering contemporary, innovative menus prepared with the freshest locally sourced organic ingredients.
Walker Bay has expansive, pristine beaches and excellent fishing, the latter providing a living for many in the local community. Hermanus is also famous for its protected fynbos and abundant birdlife and the greater Overstrand area has several nature reserves in close proximity.
Fresh produce is always available in Hermanus and the town boasts an exciting variety of culinary options, with an emphasis, naturally, on seafood. Creation Wines, rated this year as one of the Top 50 Wine Estates in the World, has received both national and international acclaim for its culinary excellence. Visitors have a choice of eight pairing menus with their award-winning wines artfully matched with dishes prepared with locally sourced ingredients. Examples are indigenous Cape Abalone served with Capers, Red Onion, Lemon, Spring Onion, Garlic, Kelp and Samphire which is paired with the Creation Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon or the Coconut Poached Line-fish, Banana Leaf and Apricot Masala Salsa served with the single-vineyard Creation Reserve Chardonnay.
Our region is also blessed with wonderful fruit grown in the Hemel-en-Aarde, especially berries and apples. Due to favourable weather conditions, including cool ocean breezes from the Atlantic, the fruit is sought after for their colour and flavour. We have dedicated organic farmers such as Glen Oakes Farm raising livestock according to ethical farming practices. At the Praise the Lard charcuterie all their handcrafted products are made using pasture-reared pork from Glen Oakes Farm. Local cheese producers such as Kleinrivier, Anysbos and Stone House add to our culinary riches. Local artisanal producers abound and their wares are available from popular community markets such as the Hermanus Country Market and the Stanford Market.
Essentially Hermanus is about whales, great food grown locally, award-winning wine, the protection and preservation of the environment, and the celebration of Mother Nature. All of which give rise to the many festivals which Hermanus puts on every year. Given the similarities climatically with Burgundy, the “Heaven and Earth Valley” just outside Hermanus has an annual Pinot Noir Festival which attracts both local and international lovers of Pinot Noir. Hermanus also hosts an annual Wine and Food Festival, regarded as one of South Africa’s most prestigious. Elgin, also in the Overstrand region, hosts an annual Cool Wine and Country Food Festival as does the town of Elim, offering a country market and country air!
So if you’re looking for pristine countryside, sea, vineyards, cuisine and protectors of the environment, Hermanus is where you should be!