Wellington has the perfect mix of farm-style flair and old European poise. Different to Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, where it's not hard to imagine yourself in an old European town in France at any given day, Wellington is unmistakably South African - complete with gumboot wearing farmers and a massive party barn called Die Watergat.
More than farming and party, Wellington is a destination for art-lovers and bookworms - making it a perfect winter escape. The well-known South-African author, poet and artist Breyten Breytenbach once lived in Wellington with his parents, and today there is a centre dedicated to the art, which is named after him. The centre opened in 2007 after extensive restoration work and offers visitors insight into the work and life of the writer.
ALSO SEE: The very Best of the Winelands for 2017 - as voted by you
Being a farming community first and foremost, it's not surprising to find some truly sustainable farming practices in action in the area - which makes eating, drinking and exploring Wellington and even easier choice for conscious travellers.
If you find yourself in this Winelands wonder this winter, spend some time to get to know the locals and get a taste for the area. Here are our ideas to soak in the wintry season -
See - and taste - sustainable wine-making
If you're off to a day of Winelands eating, you should kick off the day with some appreciation of the region, and what better way to do so that at Linton Park Wines on a dirt road just outside town.
Estate winemaker JG Auret is as passionate about creating the wines as he is about doing so sustainably, and his passion can be seen in the various environmental rehabilitation programmes running on the property.
One that stands out is the Renosterveld (meaning rhino vegetation if directly translated) rehabilitation programme. The farm has partnered with Save the Rhino and runs their drive to save the endangered Cape vegetation alongside the international drive to save rhinos. They bottle a wine in honour of the project and has donated thousands to the cause. An added bonus is that the wine tastes marvellous - the perfect reason to indulge.
Lunch - and sleep over - at Au' de Hex Estate
French flair meets country chic on this perfectly manicured farm property in Wellington. It's one of the most beautiful, intimate destination wedding venues in the area, particularly because of the fragrant rose gardens, which welcome you as you walk in - the heritage rose bushes sprawl up to 2 metres high and bear massive heads of blooms.
The restaurant's patio - under a deep red vine - overlooks the gardens and lake, making it a sweet spot for a boozy lunch. The Cape trout is particularly delightful, or, if you're after something quintessentially South African and wintry, the lamb neck is done to perfection.
Washed down with the best wines of the region, the gardens and food make for a perfect local foodie experience.
If you'd like to stay over, the Au' de Hex Manor house is the perfect place for some Winelands luxury, overlooking the colouring vineyards. Accommodation comprises of 10 spacious suites tastefully decorated with old Cape Dutch furniture and linen.
BONUS: If you have the Entertainer app, you'll be able to stay for an extra day over the weekend.
Get a taste of #ProudlySA at Oude Wellington
Perched under orange and copper coloured oak trees, the Oude Wellington restaurant and tasting room offers a South African experience of note. While the brandy is best swirled and savoured on its own the elegant cognac glasses, along with the massive old Coca-Cola sign mounted to the wall suggests that Oude Wellington wouldn't mind if you preferred your brandy SA-style - the way 90% of the country drinks it.
To complement the brandy is a selection of the desserts that make South Africa great - from a classic pancake stack with apple and new raisins (an ode to the South African childhood), to a more modern fresh gooseberry tartlet with creme patisserie.
With all the treats plated on old colonial dinnerware and devoured with antique, collectible teaspoons, Oude Wellington manages to effortlessly capture the heritage of the working farm in their proudly South African tasting experience.
Owners John and Susanna Tecklenburg also host buffet lunches for up to 20 people on special request, serving up traditional South African fair. The curry evening takes place on select evenings throughout winter, so get in touch to hear when next you're able to join.
Taste culture at The Breytenbach Centre
Although named after the iconic Breytenbach, the centre is a multidisciplinary cultural centre for training in and interaction with visual arts, music and the art of writing.
It's not a foodie destination per se, but a unique place to participate in conversations, ideas, training and workshops and to experience art, music and drama about the area - making it the perfect break for foodies to get a different perspective on what the town is all about.
If it's food, wine AND art you're after, however, you can book an experience at Die Bôrdienghuis - an intimate dinner theatre hosting shows ranging from music to cabaret and drama.
There is also the Breytenbach Gallery, an authentic exhibition space showcasing art from exceptional local and international artists, along with a second-hand book shop, The Book Traders, to enjoy.
Entertain the kids - and the adults - at Val du Charron
If you're travelling with little ones, Val du Charron will be your place of refuge - with particular reference to their dedicated child-friendly play areas around the iconic Joburg franschine Piza e Vino, which recently opened one of only two Cape Town branches on the property.
With the kids sorted, adults are also able to indulge in Val du Charron’s award-winning wines - in a very unique way. The property hosts what they call the Theatre of Wine in which the history and background between three of the estate's favourite blends are shared to visitors through drama and story-telling.
The unique approach to wine tasting won them the Drinks International Most Innovative Approach to Wine Tasting in the World award in 2015 and two years on, they're still making wine tasting extra fun.
The story about The Black Countess, the inspiration behind a robust Rhone-style blend, is certainly one to fall in love with (No spoilers here, go and experience it for yourself).
Drink some Pinotage on Tap
While you're in the area, don't miss out on the much-loved Pinotage on Tap festival happening in Cape Town just as spring arrives on 2 September this year.
Hosted every year by Diemersfontein Wine Estate, famous for it's coffee-inspired Pinotage, the farm celebrates the latest harvest of their “Original Coffee Pinotage” with barrels of Pinotage and an abundance of foods that best compliment the wine. Popular live music bands add the perfect vibe to the occasion, with a splash of fun and games for all to enjoy.
This year, events will be held in locations across the country, as Diemersfontein literally takes the wine to the people. The main event is still held in Wellington on the farm on 2 September.
Other destinations and times are as follows -
Limpopo - 3 June 2017 – Euphoria Golf & Lifestyle Estate, Limpopo
KwaZulu-Natal - 15 July 2017 – Max’s Lifestyle, Umlazi, KZN
Western Cape - 2 September 2017 – Diemersfontein Wine Estate, Wellington
KwaZulu-Natal - 16 September 2017 – The Litchi Orchard, Salt Rock, KZN
Free State - 4 November 2017 – St. Fort Guesthouse, Clarens, Free State
Gauteng - Johannesburg date and venue to be confirmed