The Greater Simonsberg region gets its name from the eponymous mountain, so-called for Stellenbosch’s 17th century founder, Simon van der Stel. The mountain rises some 1 399m above sea level and is the source of numerous streams including the Krom River.
The area as defined by the wine route, lies to the northeast of town, and incorporates the Jonkershoek Valley to the R44 towards Paarl. It is bordered in the west by the Plankenburg River, one of the many watercourses that supply vineyards, orchards and other crops in the area.
A significant characteristic of the area are the numerous valleys and foothills, providing wine grape producers with diverse aspects and climate conditions. It’s association with prodigious fertility and suitability for agriculture is reflected in the establishment in 1898 of Elsenburg, which was the first centre for agricultural training in Africa.
The Greater Simonsberg, along with its southerly neighbours, is among the most mountainous of the wine route. It enjoys abundant natural wilderness, protected by the Greater Simonsberg Conservancy and the conservancy in the Banghoek River Valley, which is also incorporated in this segment of the wine route. There’s also Klapmuts Hill, which is also regarded as a critical biodiversity and ecological support area.
Recognising the importance of these reserves to agriculture, all local wineries have active conservation programmes supplementary to production. Wineries in the region of Klapmutskop include De Meye Warwick and Lievland; near Kromme Rhee – Simonsig, Slaley and Kanonkop; off the R44 – Deux Freres, Remhoogte, L’Avenir and Morgenhof; Glenelly, on the Kromrivier; along Knorhoek Road – Knorhoek, Quoin Rock, Muratie, Delheim; and, along Helshoogte and Banhoek Valley – Neil Ellis, Thelema, Delaire Graff, Bartinney, Oldenburg, Le Pommier and Zorgvliet.