Just outside Hermanus, there is a valley with one road running through it; they call it Hemel-en-Aarde and the reasons are obvious. In a country full of gorgeous scenery ranging from forests to deserts, this slice of paradise is breathtaking.
The road rises and falls and winds and undulates from Hermanus to Caledon - a scenic drive of 35km from one end to the other if you have the time - and along the route, you’ll find 13 wine establishments, including the very fine Wine Village where you can browse through a magnificent selection.
Sadly, there was a self-imposed ban on me getting any more wine on this trip (something to do with buying faster than I can drink it), a responsibility I bestowed on my teetotaller friend to enforce and one which she took very seriously.
Luckily, and perhaps kindly on her part, a loophole was discovered while we were at La Vierge. The region is famous for its Pinot Noir, that finicky Goldilocks of wines (not too hot, not too cold, the climate has to be just right), and I had vowed to drink nothing else while I was there.
The serious wine consumption took place at our self-catering cottage at High Season. The working farm has Nguni cattle wandering around right outside your window, and it never ceases to surprise me how early the cows go home - well before sunset.
They retired on a Friday afternoon and we never saw them again. The definition of a cottage is very vague and subjective, a “small” house.
I’m sure the queen of England would consider a three-bedroomed dwelling to be small, but for me - who lives in a city apartment - it’s huge, as is any place where I can’t see all the doorways from wherever I’m standing.
So I consider the cottages at High Season - there are six of them, all prettily named, plus one that calls itself quite simply The Lodge - to be very spacious. I’ve stayed twice, both times in three-bedroomed ones, but there are one- and two-bedroom cottages as well.
Some of them are pet-friendly but do make sure you read all the terms and conditions about that; no one wants a stand-off between the cows and Coco (name has not been changed). In this hurly-burly world, it can be difficult to switch off or even unplug - at High Season you have little choice.
There is no cell phone reception. However, there is good wi-fi so if you find it impossible to take your nose out of your phone, there is that at least. Personally, I am delighted to be out of contact for a while and to enjoy the beauty of my surroundings.
On this occasion, we stayed in Lemon Tree Cottage. Unsurprisingly, there were several such trees on our doorstep, heavy with fruit. There is something so pleasing and soothing about the fragrance and colour of lemons.
In negotiations before our arrival, I’d expressed concern about how much wood there would be for our braai and indoor fires. I was assured there would be plenty, but I remained unconvinced. They totally called my bluff.
It was humiliating to leave on the Sunday without having managed to get through it all, and I don’t know how I will ever show my face there again. The cottage has a stoep where we drank our morning coffee and munched on chocolate brownies while watching the sunrise.
It overlooks fields which dip down into mirror-like dams reflecting the clouds and trees. After dark, when the sky was glittering with stars and space dust, we retired indoors to make that all-important fire which warmed the entire open plan living/dining room and kitchen (well-equipped with everything you need).
We braaied excessively (and deliberately, for leftovers) and packed our own breakfast goodies, but High Season can cater for you on request, in the form of breakfast and braai baskets, for which 24 hours’ notice is required. Alternatively, you’re close to plenty of wine farms, many of which have restaurants as well as a nearby farm stall.