For many, the concept of a Cape wine route conjures up images of the Constantia Valley or Franschhoek.  But in fact, the longest wine route in the Western Cape is found in neither area – it’s tucked away in the Boland, along Route 62.  Famed not only for its wine farms but also for its scenic beauty and rugged mountain passes, the route runs all the way from the Cape Winelands across the Breede River Valley, into the Klein Karoo and Langkloof, and finally down into the Eastern Cape.  It is in the Breede Valley section that some of its most scenic highlights are to be found – and, says Pam Golding Properties MD for the Boland and Overberg regions, Annien Borg, where some of the most charming and affordable property in the Cape is waiting to be discovered.
“Towns like Robertson, Montagu and McGregor are growing in popularity”, says Borg “thanks not only to their beautiful scenery and accessible location, but also due to their low crime rates and gentler pace of life.  There is something about the clean country air, crisp winter mornings, long summer sunsets and birdsong in the air that is speaking to increasing numbers of city dwellers, calling them to leave the hustle and bustle behind them and find a less hectic way of living – even if it’s only on weekends.  Being just two hours’ drive from Cape Town or less, these towns offer a very viable option for those wanting a second home or holiday home.  And there is excellent value for money on offer, with truly attractive, affordable homes to choose from.”
Situated in the so-called “Valley of Wine and Roses”, the town of Robertson may pass in the blink of an eye for travellers speeding down Route 62.  But they’d do well to turn off the industrial main road and explore the charming residential neighbourhoods behind it – for the town boasts some beautiful examples of Victorian architecture, including many character-filled cottages which are ideal for weekend getaways or full-time country living.
With a population of around 22 000, Robertson is surrounded by a wealth of wine, fruit and stud farms, and has a well-established tourism industry, with a growing number of festivals on its calendar, from the “Wacky Wine Weekend” to the “Hands on Harvest”.  The activities on offer are ideal for those seeking an outdoor lifestyle, and include hiking, horse-riding, canoeing down the Breede River, bird-watching, golf, 4x4 trails and fishing.  The area is a photographer’s paradise with its glorious sunsets and spectacular mountain views, as well as abundant Jacaranda blossom in the spring.  And of course it is ideal for wine-lovers, with the local vineyards including acclaimed estates such as Van Loveren, De Wetshof and Fraai Uitzicht.  The town now has well-established shopping centres with virtually all the major retailers represented, as well as its own hospital, two gyms, a pre-primary, primary and high school, and a private English-medium school.
Since 2002, there has been an upsurge in property sales in Robertson, says PGP agent Mardine Strauss.  “We have seen many people coming here seeking a complete change of lifestyle,” she says, “wanting to leave the big city behind them and pursue a slower, quieter, less stressful way of life.  Many of these buyers have purchased older buildings and restored them to their original style, meaning that the town’s unique character has been maintained and in fact enhanced.  We have also seen a lot of buyers looking to Robertson for a weekend home, as it is so accessible, being just 90 minutes’ drive from Cape Town.”
Entry level prices in the town start at around R650 000, although one can still obtain a vacant plot for as little as R350 000.  Larger family homes are priced from around R850 000 upwards, while the top end sees more luxurious homes on the market at R1.5 million.  There are also still some opportunities for purchase in the Silwerstrand River and Golf Estate, which lies along 1.5km of the Breede River, while a new retirement village is also in the planning stages.
Some 30km from Robertson, the town of Montagu lies peacefully between two rivers - the Keisie and Kingna - on the lower northern slopes of the Langeberg mountains.  Founded in 1851, it is reached by driving through the spectacular “Cogman’s Kloof”, the gateway to a tranquil valley surrounded by fruit and wine farms, and renowned for the sweet dessert wine Muscadel.  A number of the surrounding farms have also more recently begun planting olive groves in response to the global surge in demand for olive oil.  Montagu is home to a wide variety of architectural styles, including Cape Dutch thatched houses dating back to the 1850’s – the oldest of which, Joubert House, was restored in 1983, and now houses a museum depicting the lifestyle of the late 19th century.  The town’s main thoroughfare, Long Street, boasts some of the best-preserved architecture in the Western Cape, including Victorian, Georgian, Art Deco and Karoo styles.
Montagu has a small population of around 18 000 residents, but is growing in popularity, particularly among the artistic and writing community.  Most residents are attracted by the safe environment with its spectacular natural surroundings, including the legendary hot springs.  The mild climate and clear mountain air also attract numerous holidaymakers, and an increasing number of weekenders.  Montagu is fast gaining a reputation as the “Mountain Mecca” of the Western Cape, and offers a wide variety of hiking and rock-climbing options as well as opportunities for quad-biking, mountain-biking and kloofing.  The town now boasts three schools, one of them a private English-medium school, while the local high school has enjoyed a 100 percent pass rate for the past eight consecutive years.  There is a local government hospital, as well as numerous resident medical professionals.  The town also has fine dining restaurants, numerous B&B’s and guest lodges, and a few pubs.  Shopping facilities include a Spar as well as several smaller local shops. 
Property prices vary from one end of the town to another, as do the styles of building.  The central section is home to the majority of Victorian, Georgian and Karoo cottages, and a good-sized family home can be obtained from R1 million to R2 million.  More modern homes built post-1940 can be found in the southern part of town, priced from around R1.5 million upwards.  The Western section, also called “Die Oudam”, has numerous smaller cottages, many of which have been renovated, and which are ideal for entry-level buyers.  A four-bedroomed cottage here - in need of some renovation - can be obtained from as little as R770 000.
There are also still several opportunities to acquire vacant land in Montagu.  Plots in the Western section can be obtained from around R350 000 to R380 000 for 1000sqm, while in the “Piet se Pad” development situated in Die Oudam (Montagu West), one can buy plots with lovely views from R378 000 up to R541 000, ranging in size from 760sqm to 1300sqm.
Twenty kilometres in the other direction from Robertson, nestled at the foot of the Riviersonderend mountains, lies the quaint village of McGregor, once described as the “best-preserved and most complete example of a mid-19th century townscape in the Cape”.  Certainly the active Heritage Society has helped maintain the sense of time standing still in this tranquil haven, which has a small resident population of around 3000 people, including numerous artists.  McGregor has a few structures dating back to the early 1800’s, but most of its buildings were erected after the formal proclamation of the village in 1862.
The local farming scene is famous for its vines, apricot plantations and olive groves, while the numerous outdoor activities on offer include the famed Boesmanskloof Hiking Trail.  McGregor is also home to a Donkey Sanctuary and several excellent restaurants, as well as numerous small arts and crafts shops.  The local architecture is characterised by the classic thatched whitewashed cottages, and an Aesthetics Committee vets all new building plans to ensure the unique character of the village is not spoiled.  The tranquil and unhurried atmosphere has attracted a population of professionals, artists, weekends and even a few foreigners.  The village has a Waldorf school, but relies on nearby Robertson for most major amenities.  A retirement village is in its very early planning stages.
Entry level property prices in McGregor start at around R820 000, which will secure an older home or a small cottage in need of some renovation.  Larger family homes are priced from around R1.7 million to R1.9 million.  Vacant land can be obtained from as little as R300 000 for 500sqm to 600sqm, while a larger plot of around 1000sqm will cost around R440 000.
Released on behalf of Pam Golding Properties by Philippa Hudson

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