The Helderberg lies due south from Stellenbosch and extends to the shore of False Bay. Its dominant mountainscape gives the region the appearance of an amphitheatre, with the valley dropping away from the curve of the Hottentots Holland range.
The mountains are part of the Cape Fold Belt and comprise primarily of Table Mountain Sandstone. During the colder months of July and August, snow is not uncommon on its higher peaks that rise up to 1 590m above sea level.
The region’s proximity to the ocean makes it markedly cooler than areas deeper inland. These characteristics are to thank for the maritime influence that local wine grapes thrive in.
The Helderberg sub-route incorporates producers around the towns of Macassar, Raithby, Strand, Somerset West and Sir Lowry’s Pass. A significant motivation for early settlements in the area was as rest-stop for travellers about to cross or returning over the Hottentots Holland Mountains.
The mountain from which the region gets its name is just over 1 100m above sea level in height and incorporates the Helderberg Nature Reserve. Major rivers include the Lourens River and hilly outcrops such as the Schapenberg – both among the many geographic landmarks that also contribute diverse climates and conditions for cultivating quality wine grapes.
Farms in the region include, near the Annandale Road, Audacia, Annandale, Peter Falke, Alto, Guardian Peak/Stellenbosch Reserve, Ernie Els and Uva Mira, Haskell/Dombeya and Hidden Valley; Longridge and Grangehurst; off the R44, Cavalli and Somerbosch; near Raithby, Lyngrove, Klein Welmoed Foothills Vineyards and Le Riche; near Winery Road, Ken Forrester, Post House, 96 Winery and Miravel; near Faure, Vergenoegd; near Somerset West, Lourensford and Morgenster; and, near Sir Lowry’s Pass, Waterkloof and Idiom.