A Warm Welcome in the Cool Climate at South Hill
Accommodation Elgin Valley Experience 4.0 Wine Tour

A Warm Welcome in the Cool Climate at South Hill

SOUTH HILL SELF-CATERING ACCOMMODATION
Friday 6 to Sunday 8 April 2018
http://www.southhill.co.za/

Experience: 4/5

It was great to return to South Hill Vineyards, a trip I had been looking forward to since a tasting visit in December last. I could not but help to notice their luxury holiday accommodation at the time. I wanted to show my partner the beautiful Elgin Valley. She wished to taste at Iona Wine Farm. The weekend trip for a mini Elgin wine tour combined both our needs.

South Hill

South Hill

South Hill

We visited Elgin Vintners en route from Cape Town, little more than an hour’s drive away. The farm was one of the 5 (of 16) Elgin Valley wineries that I had not visited. After, we headed down the tar and gravel roads through the patchwork of orchards and vineyards to South Hill. Beware your usually trusty satnav here as the deeper South down the Valley the further one’s position deviates from the map. Better still, take a copy of the freely available Wines of Elgin map or download a copy from their excellent website. South Hill is nonetheless easy to find with its distinctive rock and sculptured metal entrance. The gravel road to the Restaurant leads through the vines that were by now fully harvested and starting to wear their autumn colours.

Wine Tasting – and Lunch

I had arranged lunch with winemaker, Sean Skibbe, who hosted my last tasting. I was surprised by the number of cars parked along the leafy access to the Tasting Room and Restaurant, even for Friday lunchtime. I discovered later that the large Dining Room was full of German ‘swallows’ from Hermanus who were enjoying one last ‘hurrah’ before migrating north again. Owner Kevin King met us at the entrance. It was good to see him again.

South Hill

South Hill

South Hill

Meanwhile, waiter John saw to our hunger as we ordered a selection of tapas from the tempting menu (just R55 to R85 per generous portion). We shared delicious creamy wild mushroom risotto with pine kernels, parmesan and truffle oil; smoked snoek pâté (served in small kilner jar) with chunky apricot jam and seeded homemade bread; spiced lamb meatballs in tomato sauce with yoghurt, dill, mint, preserved lemon and honey; and a trio of olives marinated in tarragon & aniseed, orange & basil, and coriander & ginger. We could not resist desserts after (great value at just R30 to R40): scrumptious Elgin apple and blueberry crumble and not-too-sweet chocolate brownie, both served with homely vanilla ice cream. Americano and espresso coffees perfectly rounded off lunch.

South Hill

South Hill

South Hill

I didn’t partake a full wine tasting as I had sampled the entire range of South Hill wines with Sean in December (read more here). Sean was busy too with final picking of the Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes having finished just today and yesterday. It was great to taste the premium King of the Hill Chardonnay for the first time. It was the second vintage made, using a single barrel to produce 300 bottles. The wine oozed class by its elegant, vibrant, complex bouquet of sweet vanilla oak with subtle baked apple fruits. Smooth and rounded on the palate, the finish just went on and on.

South Hill

South Hill

South Hill

The 2014 Kevin King Bazza Pinot Noir (now South Hill range) was my favourite wine of the earlier tasting. It was thus good to sample one from the following (2015) vintage. The wine was equally well made with delicious aromas of red cherry, cassis, raspberry and white peppercorns. The length was as lingering as the Chardonnay with intense flavours and an elegant mouth feel.

South Hill

South Hill

South Hill

The last wine of the mini-tasting was the Syrah that I had sampled before. I picked out similar spicy fruity notes of sweet blackberry and mulberry, liquorice and black peppercorn. The palate had developed from smoky to peppery during the interim as the fruitiness gave way to dry tannins that held on for a full finish.

South Hill

South Hill

South Hill

Sean, like many a winemaker, is someone I can never tire of chatting with. He told how the yields had increased despite the drought. I learned how the year long cloud puts disease pressures on Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon, varieties which are susceptible to ‘dead arm’. As a result, much of the Sauvignon Blanc at South Hill is being replaced with Chardonnay which makes commercial sense too. The array of small blocks and multiple cultivars – including, for example, pockets of Barbera – are the legacy of 4 original owners of the farm.

South Hill

South Hill

South Hill

It was a relaxed and lazy lunch. The service was not the quickest, perhaps due to the large German party, but that didn’t matter. This was meant to be a slow weekend.

Overnight – and Breakfast

My partner and I booked 2 nights in the self-catering accommodation next to the Restaurant. Rates start at R1100 per night for 2 persons sharing. The building offers 5 double rooms, mostly en suite. We were booked into Room 4 which was cosy for a relaxed stay. The duvet-covered bed with firm mattress was comfortable and the floor carpeted. The room was well equipped with plenty of towels, shampoo and body wash, dressing gowns, kettle, rusks, tea, sugar, milk and coffee. The fresh ground coffee and cafetière added to the luxury feel. Good quality wifi was accessible throughout, including the Restaurant.

South Hill

South Hill

South Hill

Oddly, there was no obvious source of heating in the room which had louvre shutters unusually outside the windows rather than curtains inside. I was cold in bed on the cloudless second night but found sufficient blankets in the wardrobe to keep warm. There was no TV in the room either (it didn’t matter to me but might some guests) but there was a large satellite TV in the shared open plan living room and well-equipped kitchen. Red and white wines, South Hill of course, were available in the kitchen on an honesty basis for all guests.

South Hill

South Hill

South Hill

The accommodation arrangement thus differed from places I have stayed in before. Hermanuspietersfontein Farm Cottages, together with Arum Lily Log Cabins and Seven Oaks Wines Cottages in Wolseley for instance, offer more self-contained accommodation where one is free to come and go without necessarily having to engage with fellow guests. South Hill was more contemporary corporate than cottagey in style and décor – in branded ‘house’ olive grey – complete with embossed Guest Information Folder and embroidered towels and gowns.

South Hill

South Hill

South Hill

The downside to the relative lack of privacy was the chance to meet other guests – friends and family (we met all 3 generations of the extended King clan) – as we shared lighting the open fire and watched the Hong Kong Sevens, Super Rugby and US Masters Golf together on the television. Inevitably for a short weekend stay and with the vineyard Restaurant for breakfast and lunch (dinner is not available), the communal kitchen was unused. I did consider how Jewish or Muslim guests might have been affected by a breakfast bacon fry-up.

South Hill

South Hill

South Hill

The house is therefore perfect for a large group or wedding party where guests can easily socialise whilst retaining the privacy of their own rooms. It does not surprise that South Hill has gained an enviable reputation as the prime wedding location in the Elgin Valley (excellent catering from the Restaurant). There’s a separate bridal/honeymoon cottage in the former Pump House overlooking a dam a discreet distance away too. The Old Mac Daddy holiday resort is opposite South Hill so there is plenty of overflow family guest accommodation nearby.

South Hill

South Hill

South Hill

Outside there are glorious views of the vines and sounds of the birds by day and frogs by night. The setting is magnificent and peaceful even though the building is echoey with the sounds of other guests. We didn’t use the large swimming pool but did enjoy several games of boules on the light gravel court under the setting sun. There’s a braai and pizza oven for use by guests as well as plentiful outdoor seating to catch the sun at any time of day. Our fellow guests brought mountain bikes for rides through the vineyards. It was great also to see the many children from each family playing and riding together.

South Hill

South Hill

South Hill

We took breakfast in the Restaurant on the Saturday morning. The food is so good that self-catering is not needed for a weekend stay. My partner chose homemade Eggs Benedict whilst I selected Garlic Field Mushrooms on Toast from the menu, both washed down with plenty of delicious coffee. Our stay came to an end all too soon on the Sunday morning as we took a slow drive back to Cape Town.

South Hill

South Hill

South Hill

Memories

We had a pleasant and relaxed stay at South Hill. The winery didn’t offer the usual alone time that many farm cottages do but that didn’t matter. The upside was that we felt welcomed and part of the South Hill family. I wondered even if the accommodation building had been a former family home by its arrangement of bedrooms and communal living/kitchen area. Better still, invite your friends and take over the complete house for the weekend. South Hill makes a perfect base from which to explore the fabulous Elgin Valley vineyards, all of which are within 15 minutes drive away. Oh, and as you enter and leave, mind out for the kid’s bikes that have a way of landing on the paths where you wish to walk – or even bring your own (kids as well as bikes) and join in the fun. You’ll be sure of friendly company at South Hill …..

Wines tasted (bought *):

White:

2016 King of the Hill Chardonnay – R280 FAVOURITE WINE

Red:

2015 Pinot Noir – R165
2016 Syrah – R145

South Hill

 

You Might Also Like

More-ish Wines at Môreson

In the Garage in the Heart of McGregor

Lothian Left Me Breathless – and Not Only the Wines!

Quality with Style in the Vineyard

Rickety Tram Passengers at Rickety Bridge

Wagons to the Cellar at Waboomsrivier

Peter Has a Whale of a Time in Hermanus

Class in Glass at Glenelly

Family Fun at the Greek Harvest Festival

The Phoenix Rises from the Terroir at Thelema

Mutual Attraction

Wine on the Slopes at Chamonix

Neil’s Vines on the Tr-Ellis in Stellenbosch

Lust-ful Reds in the Vineyard

Trading Wines in the City Bowl

Mixed Spice at the Pinotage Festival

Proudly Keeping it in the Family at Paul Cluver – or Not?

Blaauwklippen was Good for a Friday

On Yonder Hill There Stands a Vineyard!

Onderkloof Beats All the Odds Below The Valley

Log Cabin-et Sauvignon in the Hot Tub!

More than Just a Destination

Late at Lateganskop

On the Left, but then on the Right …

Value for Money from Angel Gabriel in the Vineyard

iWine rather than IMAX at the Cape Gate Mall

Red Chair in the Morning

Altitudes with Wine!

A Cracker and a Stormer at Paul Wallace

Warwick Wines Win their Colours

In the Vineyard with Beyerskloof

Never too Early in the Morning for Wine Tasting!

Water into Wine at Uitkyk

It’s High Time Again

Second Helping – and Tasting – at Oak Valley

Family Fun in Pairs at Four Cousins

Beau-tiful Beau-tique Beau-Constantia

Great Value in the Swartland

Lithos Wines Soar above Mountain and Forest

How Do You Grow a Vineyard Like Maria?

South over the Hills in Elgin

Heaven Meets Earth at Bouchard Finlayson

Sugar and Spice is Twice as Nice

Better than a Fair View Where the Goats do Roam!

Boutique de Brendel

A Sparkling Tasting at Charles Fox

The Big Easy Tee’s Off in the Vineyard

Groot Phesantekraal an Unexpected Surprise!

Fun(ny) Times at Lourensford

Opening the Book at Elgin Vintners

From Palette to Palate to Muratie

Of Female Rugby Players and Ballet Dancers! Let’s Continuously Study Very Seriously: Wines of the Loire and Northern Rhône

Swiss Family Sauvignons at Eikendal

Saxenburg Puts Heart, Mind and Soul into Its Wines

Bracing Brakes on the Red Wines at Remhoogte

Bellville to Bellevue to Belle Wines

Bizarre in Swazi

Well Hosted and Enjoyable – Even Though I did not Experience at its Best

Shiraz Purrs at Manley Wine Lodge

1 Night, 7 Oaks, 3 Wine Tastings for Visit 2!

Purring at the Wines in Tyger Valley

I-own-a Wine Farm!

Perfection is Attainable at Boschkloof Wines

Next Time to Taste at Hannay

It’s all Art and Wine at Almenkerk

Kosie Wynes at Groenland

British Reserve and Excellence at Sumaridge

No Black Marks at Raka

Grape Expectations are Met at Zevenwacht

Wines That Don’t Cost The Earth

Wines Out of the Barrel at Kanonkop

SMV, SMG, GSM – BLICS and PAPERCLIPS!

Tram-Way to Heaven in Franschhoek

Rustic Charm at the Altydgedacht Wine Farm

Straw Berry Yields for e-Ver-gelegen

More Still at Tanagra

The Darling from Darling Steps into the Vineyard

Pastures Anew at Rustenberg

Lemberg Punches Above its Weight

Rijk Tulbagh Gives Name to Cellar and Town

Hermanus-sleepers-fontein!

Summer Whites …… and Rosés

Honest, Affordable Family Wines at Landskroon

Sax ‘n’ Berg at the Vineyard

Serenity without Worry or Preoccupation in the Chapel

PicknPay Pairs it again at the Stellenbosch Wine Festival

Well and Truly Oaked!

Big Preparations in the Little Vineyard

Taint, Mould, Sweet-Sour, Elastoplast, Stale Honey, Bee Wax and Potato Skin With the Wine Prof

Waxing Lyrical about Canto

House Wine from the Wine Tram

www: W-arm W-olseley W-elcome

Vista to Verdot at Glen Carlou

Blush-endal!

Sweet and Safe Times Pair Well with the Whales

In the Highlands in the Lowlands of Elgin

The Garagiste in the Garage at Sonklip!

The Terroir is Honoured in the Bottle at Springfield

Beyond Expectation

Iconic Steenberg

Clouds Reign in Stellenbosch

The Gods Come Home to the Vineyard

Multi-Faceted Wines on Display at the Vineyard

Magical Wines Star at Dragonridge

Wacky – not Tacky – in Robertson

Mooi Mooi Mooi Mooiplaas

K-eynote W-ines at the V-ineyard

Verticle Tasting on the Ridge in Elgin

Seven Reasons To Visit Seven Oaks Wines

Wines to Love on Love Street

Dreaming of a Wine Christmas

Sa-Bot-Riveur!

Iona Wines Remain Excellent In and At the Vineyard

Quality Abounds on the Mound at La Motte

Elgin Valley is the Cool Wine Tour

Peter Puts into Hermanus

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *