Nestled in the picturesque Midlands of KZN, most travelers are familiar with the charming Piggly Wiggly Village. What commenced as a modest ensemble of a coffee shop cum deli and a store brimming with collectables has transformed over the years into what many affectionately call a ‘farm shopping mall’. The village welcomes visitors with shops symmetrically arranged in an oval around a central grassy area, featuring a delightful children’s playground. Parents can relax with a soothing cup of coffee, all the while keeping a watchful eye on their little ones. Those looking for a quaint experience can even hop on the village’s little steam train, but be sure to make your reservations at the coffee shop, especially if you’re aiming for the delightful all-day breakfast!
However, what often remains a mystery to many is that this enchanting village is merely a part of the expansive Highgate Wine Estate. This estate carries the esteemed distinction of being the pioneer in producing a KwaZulu Natal certified Chardonnay in 2010.
The unique climatic conditions of the mistbelt region, characterized by frequent cold and misty days, bestow a distinctive flavour to Highgate’s Chardonnay. With grapes flourishing in the area’s heavy soils and the wine maturing in French oak for half a year, wine enthusiasts can expect a fruity taste tinged with a hint of woody essence.
Highgate is not just limited to Chardonnay. The estate also proudly cultivates Merlot, Shiraz, Pinotage, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Their early success led to an addition of Cabernet Sauvignon vines and plans for further expansion. Highgate’s rich history traces back to its days as a vegetable farm. In fact, the region’s very first polo field was situated on Highgate Farm. By 2005, the farm had dedicated a hectare to vineyards, commencing with Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinotage, and Shiraz, soon followed by Cabernet Sauvignon.
Although the vine cultivation in the Midlands presents its unique set of challenges, being a summer rainfall region with varied soil quality, the knowledge acquired from the Cape’s wine areas has been invaluable.
Visitors at Piggly Wiggly have the golden opportunity to sample the exquisite wines from Highgate’s collection. Furthermore, for those captivated by the serene beauty of the Midlands and fantasizing about living amidst the vineyards, Highgate is in the process of crafting a residential area. They also have plans for a boutique hotel and a conference centre, with new vineyards intended to be woven seamlessly into this development.
Exploring Highgate Wine Estate and Its Surroundings
Wine Tasting at Highgate
Beyond its serene ambiance, Highgate offers wine enthusiasts a unique tasting experience. Sample the various wines produced on the estate, from their pioneering KwaZulu Natal certified Chardonnay to the robust Cabernet Sauvignon. Knowledgeable staff will guide you through the nuances of each vintage, making it an educational journey as much as a gustatory one.
For those interested in the intricate process of winemaking, guided vineyard tours provide a closer look at how Highgate’s grapes transform from vine to bottle. Walk amidst rows of grapevines, learning about the terroir and the unique climate challenges and benefits of the Midlands.
Given the estate’s historical connection to the first polo field in the region, it’s worth checking if any local polo matches are being held in nearby fields. The dynamic sport set against a backdrop of greenery is a sight to behold.
Several dining options are available in and around Highgate. From gourmet restaurants serving locally sourced dishes to cozy cafes in Piggly Wiggly Village, there’s something to satiate every palate. Don’t miss out on pairing your meal with a glass of Highgate wine.
Shopping at Piggly Wiggly Village
Beyond its cafes and eateries, Piggly Wiggly Village offers a range of boutique shops selling handmade crafts, artisanal products, collectables, and local artworks. It’s a shopper’s paradise for those looking for unique souvenirs.
For families, the little steam train at Piggly Wiggly Village promises fun for kids and adults alike. It’s not just a mode of transport but a nostalgic experience reminiscent of bygone days.
Hiking and Nature Walks
The Midlands is renowned for its natural beauty. Take advantage of the several hiking trails and nature walks available in the vicinity. Whether you’re an avid hiker or just want a leisurely stroll, there’s a path for everyone.
Located a short drive away, Midmar Dam is a popular spot for water sports enthusiasts. Whether you fancy boating, fishing, or simply picnicking by the water, the dam is a tranquil setting for relaxation.
Delve into the history of the Midlands by visiting nearby historical sites, museums, and heritage buildings. Learn about the area’s rich past and its transformation over the years.
Boutique Hotel Stay
For those looking to extend their visit, Highgate’s upcoming boutique hotel promises luxury and comfort amidst the vineyards. It’s an experience tailored for relaxation and rejuvenation.
Conferences and Events
Business travelers or those looking to host events can look forward to Highgate’s state-of-the-art conference centre. Set against the backdrop of rolling vineyards and the Midlands’ greenery, it’s a venue that promises inspiration.
With so much to explore and experience, Highgate Wine Estate and its surroundings serve as a captivating blend of leisure, history, nature, and culinary delights. Whether for a day-trip or an extended stay, it’s a destination that promises cherished memories.
For a rendezvous with this enchanting estate, head to the Howick north/Tweedie exit right after the Midmar Dam. Perfectly positioned between Pietermaritzburg and Nottingham Road, Highgate Wine Estate awaits to enchant you with its offerings.