The Helderberg Basin offers a perfect blend of urban and rural living. Located between the Helderberg and Hottentots Holland mountains and the False Bay coastline, Somerset West is a best-kept secret and residents live in the constant embrace of glorious vineyards and indigenous fynbos.
Somerset West was founded in 1822 on part of Vergelegen, with vineyards established in 1700 and which is open to the public, says MD of Vergelegen, Don Tooth. ‘Its beautiful gardens and grand historic buildings are preserved for the benefit of the growing population and neighbouring communities.’ And Camphors at Vergelegen, which overlooks the estate’s legendary garden with its 313 year-old Camphor trees, is one of South Africa’s top ten restaurants.
Other iconic Somerset West wine estates, each with a distinct offering, include Lourensford, Morgenster and Waterkloof, a wine cellar located 300 metres above sea level with a view all the way to Table Mountain.
There is a good mix of properties, from luxury homes priced well over R20 million, to smaller, more affordable properties offering a simpler family lifestyle, priced from R1,45 million, according to Louise Varga, Pam Golding Properties’ (PGP) manager for the area.
Living in a secure estate or within a boomed-off suburb is now one of the most sought-after options for buyers, explains Varga, saying that almost 30 percent of the current market stock in that town is located within an estate.
Security is the key factor that attracts buyers to a secure estate, but safety is not the only factor she says, ‘Often it is also a lifestyle choice based on the unique culture and character of the estate, facilities such as golf courses which support a particular hobby or passion, and in the case of some estates, a sense of exclusivity and status associated with the address.’
Somerset West is seeing an influx of Gauteng buyers moving their families to the Western Cape for security and a wholesome family lifestyle. And Schonenberg Estate, located diagonally opposite the renowned Lord Charles Hotel, is one of their favourite choices, says Varga.
Children can play in safety in the ample green lungs and park areas, while all residents can enjoy the 4km walking trails within the estate, says PGP’s Mabel Botha. The estate is committed to wetland conservation and residents share their property with free-roaming buck.
Other elite estates include Canellun, located in the sought-after suburb of Montclair, and Bel’Aire Winelands Estates. Homes here go for between R3,8 million and R17 million, says to PGP’s Thea Albertyn. Brand new to the upper end of this market is Silverwood Close, located in a prime position in the heart of Parel Vallei.
A major factor driving the demand for homes in secure estates is the search for a more old-fashioned sense of community and neighbourliness, says PGP agent Edelweiss Hankey. She says the Sir Lowry’s Pass area offers secure living in a rural setting in estates like Tre Donne, Wedderwill, Knorhoek and High Riding Estates.
Steve Brookes, CEO of Balwin Properties, has also noted the trend towards secure estates and he has properties on offer at De Velde where its community of young professionals, couples, small families and retired folk are attracted not only to the security, but also to the clever architectural design.
Shiraaz Hassan, commercial director for Asrin Property Developers, says Somerset Country Estate, to be completed by the end of 2015, has also proved very popular.
Although it was established over ten years ago, Boskloof Eco Estate is still in demand, says Seeff’s Rosmarie Bell. Set amidst unspoilt fynbos and endangered Renosterveld, residents enjoy an exclusive, laid-back country lifestyle. Equally prestigious, but far smaller is Silvertree Heights in the upmarket suburb of Spanish Farm, an estate which occupies over 20 000m2 yet has just nine exclusive homes.
Another upmarket estate with evergreen appeal is Erinvale Golf Estate, where Westacre Estates recently sold a six-bedroom mansion of 1 500m2 with an indoor and an outdoor pool for R23 million. According to Westacre’s Anton Campbell-Harris this is the highest price ever paid for a house in Erinvale.
Schalk van der Merwe, from Rawson in Somerset West, reports near boom conditions in the Helderberg Basin market. ‘On many sales we are now getting three or four offers.’ Amongst others, Rawson is marketing homes in upmarket La Sandra and Kelderhof Country Village, which offer modern farm-style homes and cottages overlooking spectacular vineyard views.
Architects have outdone themselves in two new developments, Sitari Country Estate and The Somerset, a sophisticated retirement village boasting its own healthcare facility. Sitari offers 3 150 residential luxury apartments, village homes and country homes complete with an exclusive Curro School on the property. The vision for this magnificent development is a farm-style ambience created by olive groves, orange and fig orchards, and rows of vines.
Things to do in Somerset West
Events at Vergelegen
Camellia Celebration Weekend
Chef’s themed dinners at Camphors
Sunset environmental safari tour
Sunset vineyard tour
Saddle up with Waterkloof and Orion Stables & Riding Academy
Polo at Lourensford
Miles for Smiles cycle rally
Cheetah encounters at Cheetah Outreach
The Helderberg Lights Festival (aka the Strawberry Festival)
Country Craft Market
Newberry Montessori School
Somerset West Primary School (Summies)
Somerset West Private School (SWPS)
Helderberg Primary School
De Hoop Primary
Danie Ackerman Primary School
Somerset West Private School
Helderberg High School
Helderberg International School
Gordon High School
Words: Andrea Vinassa