Old buildings on the outskirts of Grabouw
|• Total||6.65 km2 (2.57 sq mi)|
|• Density||4,600/km2 (12,000/sq mi)|
|Racial makeup (2011)|
|• Black African||38.5%|
|First languages (2011)|
|Postal code (street)||7160|
Grabouw is a mid-sized town located in the Western Cape province of South Africa some 65 km south-east of Cape Town along the N2 highway. It is located over Sir Lowry's Pass from Somerset West in the vast Elgin Valley, which stretches between the Hottentots-Holland, Kogelberg and Groenland Mountains, with the valley floor still being substantially hilly.
The town was created on the farm "Grietjiesgat", owned by Wilhelm Langschmidt, a painter from Cape Town, who started the community around his wife's little trading store. Langschmidt named the village after the German town Grabow where he was born. It was initially spelt as "Grabau".
Later, the Molteno family began to buy land in the area - principally two brothers who eventually turned the surrounding Elgin Valley into Southern Africa's largest single export fruit producing area. They were hugely influential in developing Grabouw, for example donating the land for the town's railway station. Other significant pioneer families in the area were the Beukes family and that of the Member of Parliament Sir Antonie Viljoen. Another influential resident Edmond Lombardi created an apple-juice drink he called "Appletiser", on his nearby farm Applethwaite, and introduced it to the market in 1966.
The town's economy is based on servicing the surrounding agricultural industry, with the Elgin Valley being intensively used for viticulture and the cultivation of apples, pears, plums and other deciduous fruit.
The Elgin Valley produces 65% of South Africa's apple exports. One of the biggest factories in Grabouw is Appletiser which provides the popular Appletiser soft drinks. Altogether, this has earned it the reputation worldwide as the "valley of apples".
Tourism is also of importance to the economy. The N2 highway through the valley is extremely busy during the holiday season.
Situated by the Palmiet river in the fertile Elgin valley, Grabouw is surrounded by the Hottentots Holland mountains to the north and the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve to the south. There is wine and cider tasting on the surrounding farms and several routes for exploring the surrounding mountains begin from the town. A brandy tasting and cellar tour is also available from Oude Molen Distillery which is just outside the town. There is also the annual Elgin Festival, which takes place on the last week-end in October and boasts a wide range of flower displays, fruit, wines and a great variety of local products. Within the town, the Elgin Apple Museum is one of the oldest remaining buildings in Grabouw. It is situated on the banks of the Palmiet River. The Museum depicts the history of the fruit industry in the region. The nearby Grabouw Country Club has scenic views overlooking the Eikenhof dam and pine covered mountains. Applethwaite Farm and Church, was built in the early 1960s by Edmond Lombardi, the founder of Appletiser. The church was built for the use of the farming community and is interesting because of the Italian marbles and wood carvings of the Stations of the Cross.
The town experiences a very mild Mediterranean climate, more moderate than most other Western Cape locales, with abundant rainfall, mostly in the winter months, although strong summer south-easterly winds can sometimes bring squalls. This wind is known as the "Black South-Easter" for its gusting winds and showers.
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