De Doorns Cellar | Hex River Valley

How many of you drove pass De Doorns on your road trip to Cape Town or on your way up north to Gauteng? Always wanted to stop there but not sure what the town has to offer?

As part of the Media Educational trip we were very fortunate to visit this quaint small town, De Doorns. We arrived at De Doorns Cellar bright and early with steaming coffee and freshly made roosterkoek awaited us as we soak up all the information about this town.

De Doorns is a small town in the picturesque Hex River Valley, about a 90 minute drive from Cape Town on the N1. The name of the town ‘De Doorns’ meaning ‘The thorns’ came from the surrounding acacia thorn trees and bushes which covered the farms when the first settlers arrived.

In the midst of this beautiful valley and majestic mountains is where you would find De Doorns Wine Cellar. It is easily reached from the N1 as it is at the entrance to the town adjacent to the Engen Filling Station and Wimpy Centre.

The Cellar mainly supplies in bulk to well known wine and spirit companies. They have the longest harvest season in the world. De Doorns Cellar was established in 1968 by a group of table grape farmers from the Hex River Valley.

The cellar also produces a small percentage of selected bottled wines that are available to the public. The Cellar’s range consists of dry and semi-sweet wines, a tasty Demi-Sec sparkling wine, excellent Cabernet Sauvignon, rich Muscadel and Sauvignon Blanc.

These wines can be bought or ordered from the attractive Cape Dutch Wine & Tourism Centre.

Wine tasting and free cellar tours are available by appointment.

During the table grape harvest, farmers deliver their excess table grapes on the back of a tractor and a trailor to the cellar for pressing and for manufacture of spirits.

Sometimes this results in grapes being stolen as guys will run and grab the grapes and sell them along the N1. Not only does this cause danger in terms of hijacking, but in order for grapes to prevent an illness due to climate change the last few years, the farmers are obligated to spray the grapes with chemicals. The grape bunches have to stay on the vine for at least 28 days before it can be cut off and sent to the fruit inspection company.

They will only approve the grapes once the chemicals have neutralised and is safe for human consumption. Only then the farmer is able to harvest the grapes for export markets. The guys stealing the grapes do not care whether the grapes have been sprayed or not. So don’t buy the grapes on the N1.

The Hex River Valley is known as a logistical funnel for any traffic along this route and acts more than a gateway as it is the most direct route through the Western Cape Fold Mountains to the north of the country. It is also a transitional zone for both fauna and flora between the winelands and the Karoo.

It’s a pre-cooling company and facility where the grapes go to after it has been harvested by the farmer, before it’s been transported to the harbour for exports.

Furthermore, it is also the biggest pre-cooling company in the Southern Hemisphere. For the first time ever, they have decided to open their doors to visitors under the guidance of licensed tour guides or operators. Preferably groups no larger than 10 but no less than 5.

Known for its snow-capped peaks and at 2230m above sea level, the peak of the Hex River Mountain Range, the Matroosberg, is the highest mountain peak in the Western Cape. It is situated to the North at the eastern end of the valley and the name translates as “Sailor Mountain” it has a very distinctive rock formation on the skyline that resembles a small boat with a sailor standing at the stern.

One of the farmers has a farm on top of the mountain and apparently there is a place on his farm that is higher than Pretoria! This is great for outdoor adventures and high altitude training.

In the good old days the railway line was built to connect Cape Town and all the way up to the North. The stretch of railway between the Hex River Valley and the Little Karoo Plateau above the Hex River Pass has an interesting history that has influenced all railways in Southern Africa.

Cecil John Rhodes, who was the governor at the Cape in those days, had a vision to create a railway line from Cape Town all the way to Cairo. As there was no budget then, they had to work out a way to get a railway line up the mountain without using blasting. They had no money to pay for any dynamite. The very steep gradients that had to be traversed only allowed for the use of a very narrow gauge (distance between the tracks) over the pass.

The current Hexton Railway Route through the mountains consists of four tunnels, three passing loops and a road-over-rail bridge. This remarkable engineering was completed in 1989 and the four tunnel system includes the longest railway tunnel in Africa.

Many table grapes are being exported and there are only a few producers that sell them locally. Villion Farms is only 1 of 2 farms that decided to open their doors to the public. You get to learn about grape packing and exporting and you also get to taste 5-10 different grape cultivars.

The aim is for all the houses within the area to go back to traditional heritage colours. Most of the buildings are over 60 years old and they want to maintain the integrity of the building as it was in those days. Kind of a pay-forward scenario and thus in return re-establish the integrity of the town.

If you’re looking for a destination that will sooth your cravings for scrumptious cuisine,

adventurous outdoors and memorable occasions, the Hex River Valley is the place to be!

Download the CapeWinelands Tourism App to explore this beautiful side of the world. Next time add this on your road trip to-do list when you drive pass on your way to Cape Town or Gauteng.

De Doorns Cellar Contact:
Tel: 023 356 2835 | Email:

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