It’s really hard to miss the Simonsvlei as you drive past Paarl on either the N1 or the Old Paarl Road, thanks in part to the gigantic oversized wine bottle statue that towers next to the winery’s main premises.
Anyway, with its name originating from the founder of the South African wine industry, Simon van der Stel, and the area’s vlei (wetlands) landscape, Simonsvlei was founded shortly after the second World War, its primary goal to give the area’s grape and wine farmers the facilities to produce quality wines on a larger and more sustainable scale.
(Today the winery is probably best known among locals for its penchant to produce decent wine that is sold at an affordable price.)
After spending a Sunday morning in Paarl with the kids (we were trying out the new BASH kids venue that had literally just opened on the nearby Dvine Estate), we were on the lookout for a place to grab a bite to eat and escape the fresh wind that was starting to pick up, when (as I pointed out might happen at the start of this piece) a giant wine bottle caught our eye and we headed off straight in its direction.
And that’s how we ended up at Simonsvlei.
This was the first ever visit to the Simonsvlei winery for me and as it turns out, in addition to its wine tasting room and conference facilities, the winery does in fact have a restaurant on the premises in the form of Eat@Simonsvlei – not to mention a separate beer brewing and machine letting outfit called Karoo Craft Breweries.
However, we were there for some lunch and given that the wind meant that the veranda wasn’t really a viable seating option for the day, we were instead shown to a big old table indoors where we quickly jumped into the job of selecting a wine, food for the kids, and of course something nibbly for ourselves.
In terms of architecture, finishing, decor and menu, it has to be said that the facilities here at Simonsvlei definitely come across as maybe being somewhat stuck in the 80’s (or at least that is how Chantelle and I perceived it), though that said, the atmosphere was nice enough and in the end we enjoyed our lunch visit.
(Of course, that might also have been entirely the fault of the excellent Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend that we were enjoying as well!)
There is actually a really nice, fenced off kids play area in the front of the estate, meaning that following the meal (and wine), the kids dragged Chantelle down for a spell of play (the wind was a lot more friendly by now), while I instead snatched up the opportunity to trudge about and take a few photos of the outside area (including of course the titular vlei).
So. I guess while there are a LOT other more pretty and interesting wine estates in the area to be experienced, Simonsvlei does stand out a little as one of those nice, more down to Earth establishments, so maybe worth a stop if you don’t particularly feel like its slightly more haughty Franschhoek and Stellenbosch compatriots on the day.
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Bonus: Just in case you have never spotted the giant wine bottle whilst hurtling down the N1 before, here’s a handy map (in the event that you want to check them out for yourself one day):