Oak Valley Estate is one of the Cape’s premier producers of a variety of agricultural products such as fruit, cut flowers, beef and of course wine.
The estate is one of the largest deciduous fruit farms in South Africa with 335 of its hectares producing quality, high-value varieties of fruit. 70% of this land is planted to apples and 30% to pears. Orchards are being constantly modernised in line with shoppers looking for novelty in flavour. New apples such as Pink Lady, Sundowner, Fuji, Braeburn and Royal Gala appear alongside the better known Golden Delicious, Granny Smith and Top Red. Pears such as Abate Fetel, Forelle, and Doyenne du Comice are planted with the old favourite Packham’s Triumph.
Oak Valley was one of the first three farming units outside of the EU to achieve the prestigious Tesco Natures Choice accreditation and is also Europgap accredited, giving it priority access to supermarket shelf space in these important markets. The Natures Choice accreditation was upgraded to Gold status in Jan 2004. Oak Valley has also achieved preferred supplier status with Waitrose in the United Kingdom.
Since 1978 Oak Valley has grown flowers such as Chrysanthemums, Alstroemeria, Oriental Asiatic and Longiflorum Lilies, Stattice, Sunflowers, Iris, Freesia, Tulips, Gladiolus and Peonys as well as Greenery. There are over 13 hectares of greenhouses, shade houses and open fields in production, including the first fully imported automated climate controlled Dutch glasshouses in South Africa.
Free range Simmentaler cattle graze in winter on 583 hectares of Oak Valley pastures established to a combination of clovers and grasses, mainly ryegrass. The clover plants provide the nitrogen required to feed the grasses and the process is self-sustaining. Dried pasture seeds provide the source of protein in the summer. This is supplemented with cut and baled oat hay also grown on the farm. Apple pomace from the juice plant is an important supplementary foodstuff for the animals and is also a by-product of their orchard business. Thus it is that the food the cattle eat is homegrown in a perfectly natural way, giving rise to tender and flavoursome beef which you are able to order off the Estate’s website.
Oak Valley Estate was founded in 1898 by Sir Antonie Viljoen, a medical doctor and a Senator in the Cape Parliament, who was knighted in 1916 for his efforts to bring together Boer and Brit in the bitter aftermath of the Boer War. Up until that time the Elgin valley was regarded as a low potential agricultural area, but Sir Antonie’s vision was to change this perception forever. His love of trees led him to establish large forests of English oaks, and his will specifies that no future inheritor of the property be allowed to cut down any of these trees. Today there are over 4000 oak trees covering 30 hectares of the farm. The acorns from the oak forests were harvested and were stored and cured in large bunkers to provide food for a piggery at Oak Valley.
Oak Valley has only recently entered the wine industry and is already making waves. The Sauvignon Blanc of the 2003 vintage led many to ask whether this was not the finest Sauvignon Blanc yet produced in the Cape.
Oak Valley wines, products of the exciting cool climate Elgin Ward, now attracting the attention and investment from a number of leading South African winemakers, are characterised by great fruit, are elegant with minerally undertones complemented by fresh acidity.
The range currently includes Sauvignon Blanc, a Chardonnay, a Semillon/Sauvignon blend, a Pinot Noir and a Bordeaux styled blend, known as The Oak Valley Blend. The wines are well rated by consumers and have won some impressive awards, the 2005 Sauvignon Blanc having won Gold and the Regional Trophy at the 2006 Decanter World Wine Awards whilst the 2004 Oak Valley Blend won the International Trophy for Bordeaux Styled Blends over £10 at the 2007 Decanter World Wine Awards and was also voted the best SA Bordeaux style blend of the 2004 vintage by Wine Magazine.
The wine tasting room on the Estate is set in lush surroundings adjoining an oak forest, and is open on weekdays from 9am to 5pm and Saturday mornings.
Oak Valley has recently launched the Oak Valley Mountain Biking Experience, a series of three mountain biking routes on this beautiful 1 786-hectare mountainside farm. The Experience is the brainchild of Oak Valley’s winemaker, Pieter Visser, an avid mountain biker himself, who has ensured that the routes are suitable for young and old, and the experienced biker. The route takes the rider through spectacular scenery, including an oak forest; mountain vineyards; apple and pear orchards; and pastures where Simmentaler beef cattle roam. All of these are set against the backdrop of the rugged upper slopes of the Groenlandberg.
The vision of Sir Antonie Viljoen is being realized by his great grandson, current owner, Anthony Rawbone-Viljoen. Oak Valley has more secrets up its sleeve, keep your book open on this page.
Winegrowing area Elgin
Owner Anthony Rawbone Viljoen
Winemaker Pieter Visser