The Breede River has its origins in the mountains near Ceres, flows past Wolseley, to be joined by the White River from Bains Kloof. Traditionally the area from south of Wolseley to Bonnievale was known as the Breede River Valley, but this has now been divided into different marketing areas: Breedekloof, the Worcester Winelands and the Robertson Wine Valley. Geologically the valley marks a seismic fault, which caused the earthquakes at Tulbagh/Ceres/Worcester in 1969–70.
The valley is one of the most important fruit- and wine-producing areas in the country. The scenery can be spectacular, with imposing mountains forming the backdrop in every direction. In winter many of the mountains are capped with snow.
From the Overberg the Breede River Valley, in this case Bonnievale, may most easily be reached along the R317 from Stormsvlei on the N2. This was one of the earliest routes used by travellers from the interior to the sea.
Bonnievale was founded largely due to the efforts of one man, Christopher Forrest Rigg, who settled in the area in 1900, where he bought up land and divided it into 5-acre plots. He also took on the task of completing the irrigation canal which had been started in 1898. Today Bonnievale is called the Valley of Wine & Cheese, with ten wine producers and two cheese factories.
The town of Robertson, founded in 1853 as a new Dutch Reformed congregation, was named after Dr William Robertson, the minister at Swellendam. Three hundred erven were pegged out, and more than half were sold within two days! In the second half of the 19th century the town was noted for the manufacture of furniture and wagons. Along with Stellenbosch, Paarl, Worcester and Graaff-Reinet, Robertson is one of the five country towns in the Cape richest in buildings dating to before 1900.
McGregor was founded in 1861 not as a church town, but in the expectation that a pass would be built through the Sonderend Mountains from the Greyton side. The new town was initially named after Lady Grey, wife of the Governor, but was renamed after the Rev Andrew McGregor of Robertson 40 years later when it finally became a separate congregation.
Ashton had its beginnings in 1887 as a railway station named Roodewal, but, because the English-speaking railway offcial had trouble pronouncing the name, he changed it to that of his home town in England. The town only really developed after the Langeberg canning factory was built there in the 1940s.