Famed in mountain biking circles for its exceptional singletrack, Wildekrans is more than a trail destination. The estate produces award winning wines and boasts luxurious accommodation too.

Riders returning to FNB Wines2Whales will be familiar with Wildekrans. The farm has long hosted a spectator point and in 2021 it will also feature water point 2 of Stage 1’s Switchback route. For those wishing to pre-ride the open sections of the FNB W2W Switchback course Wildekrans is an excellent base. Not only does the farm boast 24 kilometres of sign posted trails, it is also the ideal spot from which to explore the greater Bot River riding options.

The real reason to visit Wildekrans, however, is the estate’s award-winning wines. Situated between hillocks of grey renosterveld the green vineyards of the farm are particularly eye catching in early summer. The estate itself is 1 000-hectares in size and has 70-hectares under vineyard cultivation. Thanks to the Bot River Valley, which stretches towards the coast between Kleinmond and Hermanus, the farm has a cool climate, facilitated by fresh south easterly breezes.

Head Viticulturist, Braam Gericke practices a low intervention winemaking philosophy and the estate focuses on producing low yield but fruit with a pronounced structure and intensity. This has seen Wildekrans’ Barrel Select Reserve range, in particular, win international acclaim. The Wildekrans MCC range meanwhile is the ideal accompaniment for a podium celebration, or any celebration for that matter. While the estate range offers exceptional value for money.

Wildekrans is open for wine tastings from Tuesday to Sunday, 10:00 to 16:00. Their restaurant, meanwhile, is open Wednesday to Sunday, 08:00 to 15:30; and for a dinner service, by booking only, on Friday evenings.

 

Wildekrans
Location: Wildekrans Wine Estate, Bot River
Website: www.wildekrans.com
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 10:00 to 16:00

One of the country’s oldest wine estates, Beaumont was first farmed in the 1700’s but it was only when the Beaumont family bought Compagnes Drift, in 1974, that modern wine making was introduced to the Bot River region.

Situated on Compagnes Drift farm – which was home to the Bot River region’s oldest wine cellar, established Dutch East India Company three centuries ago – is Beumont Family Wines. After wine making was discontinued in the 1960s the farm was bought by the Beaumont Family in 1974 and viticulture was revived.

Their signature white is Hope Marguerite, a Chenin Blanc exclusively from 43- and 47-year-old vineyards. Beaumont’s flagship red is their Vitruvian, a blend based on Mourvedre, Pinotage, Syrah and Cabernet Franc. Both the Hope Marguerite and Vitruvian were awarded five stars in the most recent Platter wine guide.

Mountain bikers will be rewarded for their visit to Beaumont Family Wines both on and off the bike. The estate has created a network of trails which link with the surrounding farms. Without straying too far from Bot River one can now do a 28-kilometre ride, or extend it to 60-kilometres with gravel adventures on Van Der Stel’s Pass, which is sure to work up an appetite. Plus, when accessing the local trails from the R60, per rider, permit fee can be paid at the Beaumont Deli, which is a fantastic spot to start and end a ride.

Along with good coffees to kick off the ride, the Zest Kitchen and Deli specialises in truly local cuisines. The deli offers a seasonal menu and makes use of the farm’s produce whenever possible. This is facilitated by Beaumont Family Wines also producing pears, almonds and olives.

For those wishing to linger longer there are two original white-washed, black tin-roof, cottages which have been beautifully restored. These self-catering cottages are the prefect base for a weekend of mountain biking, wine tasting and relaxing. Though, with all the treats on offer at Beaumont Family Wines, the mountain biking might well take a back seat…

Join the Beaumont FNB W2W entry auction and stand a chance to secure a 2021 FNB W2W Chardonnay Standard Package entry. Check our wines on www.beaumont.co.za and forward your entry bid (and contact details) to jen@beaumont.co.za. The minimum bid is R15 500 and the highest bid wins the entry. Closing date is 30 September 2021.

Beaumont Family Wines
Location: Beaumont Family Wines, Bot River
Website: www.beaumont.co.za
Opening Hours: 09h00 to 16h00 on Weekdays, and 10h00 to 15h00 on Weekends

Having dedicated three decades to perfecting their Pinot Noir it is no surprise that Bouchard Finlayson has become synonymous with the complex medium bodied wine.

Bouchard Finlayson’s boutique wine cellar is internationally acclaimed and they also produce award winning Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and a range of blends alongside their flagship Tête de Cuvée Pinot Noir. A particularly celebrated blend to look out for is the Bouchard Finlayson Hannibal, a celebration of old and new world fruit and styles combining Sangiovese, Pinot Noir, Shiraz, Nebbiolo, Mourvédre and Barbera.

Nature lovers will be pleased to read that though the estate, which measures 125 hectares in size, only has 25 hectares cultivated under vine. The majority is set aside and preserved as endemic fynbos. Bouchard Finlayson is also a WWF-SA Conservation Champion. As such they pursue long-term conservation commitments as well as spearhead innovations in water and energy sufficiency.

For mountain bikers visiting the farm’s trails link between the lower sections of the Hemel en Aarde Valley and the climb to the higher reaches of the valley via the La Vierge Stairs. The best option is thus to leave the bikes on the bike rack and indulge in a wine tasting rather. The estate is open seven days a week for tastings and offers deli platters to satiate the hunger pangs while working through their award-winning wines.

Bouchard Finlayson
Location: Bouchard Finlayson Estate, Hemel en Aarde Road, Hermanus
Website: www.bouchardfinlayson.co.za
Opening Hours: 09h00 to 16h30 on Weekdays, and 09h30 to 16h00 on Weekends

 

The FNB Wines2Whales Pinotage, scheduled to happen from 8-10 November 2021, is the second of the three FNB W2W events to reach full capacity!

While Covid-19 has put a dampener of the usually high levels of #SeriousGEES over the past 18 months, the FNB Wines2Whales is excited to announce that the Pinotage event, scheduled for 8-10 November 2021, has officially reached capacity and there are no additional entries available. For riders still eager to take part, Shiraz entries are available until 10 September, or until completely sold out.

The Pinotage event, which takes place during the work week, has long been a highly sought-after event as it is perfectly positioned for riders who travel to the Western Cape. With the race beginning on a Monday and ending on a Wednesday, the Pinotage presents the perfect opportunity to enjoy pre- and post-event weekends in the spectacular Mother City, taking in the sights and sounds, and enjoying the FNB Wines2Whales Wine Route!

“We are stoked to share the news that we have reached capacity in the FNB W2W Pinotage as it shows the dedication and commitment of our riders,” explained JK, FNB Wines2Whales Founder. “This past year and a half has been nothing short of a nightmare for us as event organisers as we had to postpone the 2020 event, something we never thought would happen in a million years! At least we had two years to shape the new FNB W2W Switchback route, with many surprises up our sleeves. I’d like to personally thank each and every rider who has placed their trust in us; I promise you that we are going to offer you the best possible FNB Wines2Whales experience under the sun!”

Following swiftly in the Chardonnay and Pinotage’s tracks, the Shiraz event is also reaching capacity. But do not stress, just yet! Any riders longing to experience the inaugural FNB Wines2Whales Switchback can still get their hands on an entry to the Shiraz event up until 10 September when entries close, provided they don’t sell out before then!

 

Be warned, entries are highly limited and they’re only available here: https://wines2whales.com/riders/entry-information/

Arguably the most iconic of the Hemel en Aarde, Hamilton Russel Vineyards is as synonymous with the valley as a wine region as it is with Pinot Noir in South Africa. The estate’s pioneering spirit led, in no small part, to the establishment of the Hemel en Aarde valley as a world-renowned wine region.

Founded in 1975, Hamilton Russel is the oldest wine farm in the Hemel en Aarde valley. Purchased as undeveloped fynbos, by Tim Hamilton Russel, the estate was carefully chosen for its cool, maritime, climate and clay-rich, shale-derived, soil. Initially a broader approach to wine making was taken; but under current owner, Anthony Hamilton Russell’s, guidance the focus was narrowed to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Since 1991 Hamilton Russell Vineyards have specialised in those two varietals. “We are not so much using Hamilton Russell Vineyards to make Pinot Noir and Chardonnay as we are using Pinot Noir and Chardonnay to express the beauty and personality of Hamilton Russell Vineyards” Anthony Hamilton Russell has explained. “Our terroir, in effect, ‘chose’ these varieties as its most individual and beautiful expression.”

Sister farms, Ashbourne and Southern Right Wines add Pinotage and Sauvignon Blanc to the Hemel en Aarde Valley’s world-class wines. Though the main attraction for visitors on wine tasting tours surely remains the old dame of the region.

Hamilton Russell Vineyards
Location: Hamilton Russell Vineyards, Hemel en Aarde Road, Hermanus
Website: www.hamiltonrussellvineyards.com
Opening Hours: 09h00 to 17h00 on weekdays and 10h00 to 14h00 on Saturdays

 

Perhaps better known as Die Plaaskombuis, Lötter Family Wines is one of the Hemel en Aarde Valley’s best kept secrets. Perfectly located for a mid-ride meal the farm is also well-worth a visit without your bike so you can indulge in a wine tasting too.

A place of refuge and healing, Vrede Farm has been owned by the Lötter Family since 1978. Along with 4-kilometres of singletrack, all of which is used during FNB Wines2Whales, every grape used in the production of the Lötter Family Wines is grown on the 30-hactare farm. The shale derived clay soils and cool climate provide the terroir for winemaker, Hannes Storm’s passionate productions.

Despite the farm being a valley institution for decades the first bottle of Lötter Family Wines was produced as recently as 2015. The estate’s style is driven by a philosophy of simplicity and minimal interference, with a focus of showcasing the terroir and varietal.  Storm believes the wines will develop beautifully with age, but is eager to point out that they are elegant enough to be enjoyed upon release too.

No trip through the Hemel en Aarde Valley would be complete without a stop at Die Plaaskombuis. Famed for its farm hospitality and authentic traditional Overberg cuisine its Curried Tripe, Cape Style Bobotie, Oxtail and Lamb Curry, served with samp or rice, attract hungry visitors year-round. For lighter meals the kitchen produces delicious homemade pies and also sells organic vegetables, fresh farm eggs, local cheeses and home baked breads.

A safe and spacious play area for children means visitors can bring their kids to Die Plaaskombuis too. While you relax over a glass of Lötter Grenache Rosé or Lötter Syrah the younger family members can keep themselves entertained. At least until lunch is served at least…

 

Die Plaaskombuis & Lötter Family Wines
Location: Vrede Farm, Hemel en Aarde Road, near Hermanus
Website: www.dieplaaskombuishermanus.co.za
Opening Hours: 7 days a week from 10h00 to 17h00

The appeal of the FNB Wines2Whales has long been the journey from Lourensford to Hermanus, along incredible mountain biking trails across world famous wine estates. With the route change up for the Switchback, that classic formula remains consistent as wine farms, and their wines, are the heart of FNB W2W. These are the farms which make it tick…

Cool climates, sea breezes and fertile soils make for great wines and spectacular mountain biking; as any FNB Wines2Whales rider can confirm. Wine making and mountain biking go hand-in-hand in South Africa, in a way which simply doesn’t happen elsewhere in the world. Where else are riders welcomed onto private properties, invited to ride purpose-built trails and then encouraged to linger, in glamourous tasting rooms or restaurants, still outfitted in muddy cycling kit?

We are spoilt! FNB W2W is very aware of how fortunate South African mountain bikers are. The wine estates which host the Chardonnay, Pinotage and Shiraz events make the races the world-class events they are. Too often, though, we speed through the farms, swooping thought their manicured singletracks and speeding past their vineyards – making notes to return for a slower visit another time.

Well, now is the time and here is the list. A unique wine tour through the farms which make up the Wines of FNB Wines2Whales. Starting from Onrus, we’ll take you on a wine tour of the FNB Wines2Whales Switchback route, but from the wales to the wines of Lourensford; as we upload each individual wine farm, you’ll be able to click through to a unique story of each region listed below.

For a taste of the FNB Wines2Whales Wine Route, be sure to take a look at Wine Village Hermanus’ amazing FNB W2W Wine Collection, consisting of only the best wines from the farms along the route; click here to shop.

Hemel en Aarde Valley

The deep valleys and high peaks of the Hemel en Aarde Mountain Range, along with distinct soils and crisp Atlantic Sea breezes, creating a geographically diverse region for producing world-class wines. From their aspects, the vineyards soak up bountiful sunlight to produce site-specific Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

Bot River

The Bot River ward and village in the Overberg region is flanked by the foothills of the Groenlandberg and Babylonstoren mountain ranges. With favourable soils of shale and sandstone, this maritime influenced winegrowing area cradles just enough warmth to produce rich Pinotage and Shiraz and Chenin Blanc.  – Roxanne Waldeck, Sommelier and Wine Educator.

Elgin

The Elgin district lies in the Cape South Coast region on a unique, high-lying plateau overlooking the sea. It boasts the coolest ripening season in South Africa, producing Sauvignon Blanc and Méthode Cap Classic of distinct character, with the integrity of the surrounding features echoed in the wines.

 

Helderberg Basin

The Helderberg mountain range as its gentle slopes face out to False Bay, and boasts a wine offering as diverse as its terroir. With some of the oldest wine estates of the region, Somerset West has a proud reputation for port and red wine, while in recent years is receiving attention for its remarkable, site specific white wines made from Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.

– All region descriptions by Roxanne Waldeck, Sommelier and Wine Educator.

South African sports nutrition company, USN, has signed a deal with the FNB Wines2Whales as the Official Sports Nutrition Partner to the race.

The FNB Wines2Whales attracts riders from every corner of the country and often internationally, too. These riders range from World Champions and Olympians to weekend warriors and first timers, each arriving with a different goal.

While the riders at the sharp end of the field are chasing podium spots, those with less competitive mindsets are making memories and having a blast on their mountain bikes . Though ambitions and goals may differ, each rider has something in common: the need to fuel their bodies.

That’s where USN, the Official Sports Nutrition Partner of the FNB Wines2Whales, comes in – giving all riders the fuel they need to chase their goals.

As Official Sports Nutrition Partner to the FNB W2W, USN will take care of riders’ mid-stage nutrition needs at the dedicated water points throughout the day. Riders can expect to find USN’s Epic Pro, Cyto Power HP, Hydrating Energy drink, Energy Oat Bars, and more at each water point. This product offering is sure to keep legs turning up the most challenging of climbs and the minds sharp while whipping through Oak Valley and Paul Cluver’s famous singletracks.

“When I think of the FNB Wines2Whales, two things jump to mind; world-class organisation like I’ve never experienced in any other country, and the overwhelming feeling of happiness while riding my bike through the most pristine landscapes of the world.” enthused Albé Geldenhuys, CEO and Founder of USN. “Even with burning legs and dust in your teeth, you cannot help but continuously remind yourself of how blessed we are. We at USN are extremely honoured to be partnering with this prestigious event and we’re looking forward to spoiling riders with nutritional supplements and ice-cold recovery drinks during and after every stage of the FNB W2W.”

Once riders have crossed the finish line after each stage, they can kick their recovery into gear by visiting the USN recovery area where USN Pro Recover, Epic Pro, and various bars will be readily available.

“USN has been a trusted brand in the sports nutrition space since 2000 and we are ecstatic to have them on board as our Official Sports Nutrition Partner” explained FNB Wines2Whales Managing Director, Michael Flinn. “I have always turned to USN’s products to stave off the dreaded bonk during my training rides and races; so I am confident that having access to their scientifically proven, world-class range of products during our events will keep riders’ legs turning over, and the levels of  #SeriousGEES high, even after a few hours on the bike (exactly how many hours, I’ll leave to your imagination).”

The inaugural FNB Wines2Whales Switchback is set to take place from 5-14 November 2021 with riders tackling the breathtaking trails from Hermanus to Oak Valley Estate, and finally to Lourensford Wine Estate for the first time.

 

For more than a decade, the FNB Wines2Whales has delivered world-class mountain biking, taking riders from the wines of Lourensford Wine Estate to the whales of Hermanus via some of the Western Cape’s most loved and enjoyed trails

In 2021, the FNB Wines2Whales is switching back on itself, and riders will tackle an all-new adventure that sees the route roll away from the whales and head inland towards the wines. It has been named the FNB Wines2Whales Switchback.

Aside from the staples of the FNB W2W of years prior, like mid-race wine stops, Woolworths catering for breakfast, lunch and dinner, free bike washes, and, of course, the world-class trails and times, the 2021 FNB Wines2Whales Switchback promises even more reasons for riders to secure an entry.

With racing action returning to the weekends thanks to a slight relaxing of restrictions, here’s a look at five reasons why you should enter the FNB Wines2Whales, today.

1) Entries are limited

While we have strived, with all our might, to host an event on the same scale as the FNB Wines2Whales of the past decade, we’ve reduced entry numbers for the 2021 FNB W2W to address Covid-19 restrictions and precautionary measures, and to ensure that #SeriousGEES wins the day.

2) Race in 2021 for the price of 2019

Yes, you read that correctly. Register and pay before 5 May 2021 and you’ll be racing the 2021 FNB Wines2Whales for the same price that it cost to race the 2019 event! There are also new entry options, like Ride Only, Double Luxury Tents, and Single Luxury tents for riders wishing to err on the side of Covid caution.

3) Your money is safe with us.

We’re not runners! If you enter and pay for the 2021 FNB W2W Switchback, your money is safe. If the worst-case scenario occurs and the event has to be cancelled or postponed due to Covid-19, 100% of the money you have paid will be transferred to the 2022 FNB W2W. We commit to communicating any big decisions or changes with at least 90 days’ notice to race day and will provide regular updates as we get closer to the event.

4) #Goals

Goals give us all something to work towards. Make the FNB Wines2Whales Switchback your MTB goal for the year and kick your training into overdrive as the event is rapidly approaching.

5) The Lourensford Ultimate.

Over the past year, we’ve told you all about how the Cape Trails team, working alongside JK himself, have carved out countless switchbacks, moved boulders, wrangled puff adders, and carved out new trails that’ll have even the most seasoned adventure seekers grinning from ear to ear. But now, we can show you some of their finest work to date. Here’s a quick look at what you can expect when you drop into the Lourensford Ultimate on Stage 3 of the 2021 FNB Wines2Whales Switchback.

If these reasons tickle your fancy and have whet your appetite for some #SeriousGEES and MTB stage racing, secure your FNB Wines2Whales Switchback entry today.

Rowena Kemp won a pair of BH mountain bikes in the FNB Wines2Whales Champions Chase in November 2020. Since receiving her bike, she’s clocked up 700 fun-filled kilometres of riding. Here’s how it’s going for Rowena and ‘Antonio’ the BH.

Rowena Kemp was the ultimate winner in the 2020 FNB Wines2Whales Champions Chase competition. Her name was drawn from the, digital, hat securing her the prize of either a top of the range BH eBike or a top end BH full suspension mountain bike. Kemp, however, negotiated with BH South Africa to rather exchange her prize for two lower value bikes; in order that she could gift one to her riding partner, Irma Schoeman.

Read the story of Rowena Kemp’s generosity here.

Since Kemp and Schoeman took delivery of their BH Lynx mountain bikes the former has clocked up 700-kilometres on it. “I’ve gone on 19 rides. It has, literally, been an amazing and fun rollercoaster ride” Kemp enthused.

Looking back on the moment when she first found out that she had won the main prize in the Champions Chase she reflected: “I was so shocked and in total disbelief when I first got a call to say I won the bike. Once I was sure that it was true, I was so excited to get the bike and even more excited when I heard that I could get two bikes, so I could share the prize with Irma.”

Having upgraded from an old 26er, which belonged to her father, her riding had gone to new heights on the BH. “I am riding at least once a weekend and I try to ride once on a weekday every second week” the single mom stated. Then adding with a smile: “I have even named my bike Antonio, since it is a Spanish name and the bike has Spanish origins. The new bike has given me a new confidence. I feel I can do more and even ride a little faster.”

“As I said, this bike has been so good for my confidence” Kemp continued. “It is so much better riding a 29er versus a 26er. I used to feel like I had to jump off my previous bike when things got a bit hectic, but on my new bike, Antonio, I just carry on and try not to fall. It feels so responsive and I feel safe and secure on it. I went to Dullstroom last week and on my own did two long rides, one of 50-kilometres (the Kruisfontein Loop) and one of 75-kilometres (Tonteldoos – De Berg Ring Road). Both rides were on gravel roads, and very muddy. I really enjoyed them and actually felt so safe.”

A big contributing factor in Kemp’s increased confidence was a gift from Schoeman. “After I gave her a bike, she gave me a dropper post, new cycling shoes and new pedals” Kemp smiled. “Last year was a real spoil for me, winning the bike and getting new accessories!” As anyone who has fitted a dropper seatpost will attest, it immediately inspires increased confidence on technical terrain.

Looking ahead to the rest of 2021 Kemp is keen to get as much riding in as possible. “Well, my goal is to ride as often as I can” she stated, simply. “I would like to just improve my skills on the bike, tackle the singletracks with more confidence and up my speed on the gravel roads.”

Racing wise, like most mountain bikers, she’s hoping to be able to take part in a few events, Covid allowing. “I have entered the Jackal Dash in March 2021, I am cycling Ride the Berg in May, with the company I work for. Then in June, Irma and I taking part in the Berg and Bush and then hopefully we’ll get entries into FNB Wines2Whales, at the end of the year. Six of my colleagues are eager to enter W2W with Irma and myself, so if we can secure entries for the whole group of us it’ll be quite a festive stage racing experience.”

“I’m sure our new BH bikes will give us the edge Irma and I need to complete and enjoy all those events” Kemp laughed. “I am eternally grateful to BH and the FNB Wines2Whales team for the new bikes. They have just made my passion for MTB grow! Life is too short; so you really have to make the most of every opportunity given to you and just keep moving forward.”

If you’ve been motivated by Rowena Kemp’s story you too can join the FNB Wines2Whales Strava Club. It will help you stay motivated and allow you to stay updated on all the news from the FNB W2W Switchback, which is scheduled to take place from the 5th to the 14th of November 2021.