Tag Archives: stellenbosch

Snacking at Asara Wine Estate & Hotel in Stellenbosch (2016-10-15) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 02 JAN 2017

One Saturday in October last year, Chantelle and I decided to take the girls out for a spot of strawberry picking at Polkadraai in Stellenbosch. However on arrival at the strawberry farm it was immediately clear that pretty much the entire Cape Town must have had the same idea as us, and so we did a u-turn and headed back towards Stellenbosch, looking for something else to do instead.

Then a brainwave hit me – I’d previously visited the five star Asara Wine Estate & Hotel in Stellenbosch for a business meeting with Distell, and have wanted to show the place off to Chantelle ever since. So I took a chance and turned in by Asara’s manned gates and stated that I was off to visit the deli (which I think I remember having spotted that last time I was there).

As it turns out, they do have a deli on-site – and surprisingly it is a pretty cool little find.

If you aren’t familiar with Asara, then know that it is an award-winning wine estate and 5-star hotel billed as being situated in the heart of the Cape Winelands. Breathtaking views, tranquil atmosphere, upmarket service – well you get the picture.

Previously known as Raphael’s (where I previously had enjoyed a lunch), mise en place is the new destination fine dining restaurant at Asara, while the Sansibar is their casual, bistro-style dining option.

However, the spot that we were interested in seeing as we had our two little ones tagging along with us was Asara’s main courtyard and more specifically, the deli that then opens up onto it.

I was super surprised to find the deli stocked with all manner of exciting baked treats, and was even more taken aback at how well priced the finger snacks were – pretty soon we had placed an order for all manner of niceties, before selecting a table outside and then sitting back as our array of treats was brought out to us in a manner which I’m more than happy to dub as being a ‘simple high tea’ experience! ;)

The view from the courtyard is spectacular, the service is top notch, and amazingly, this was such a cool, well priced treat that all three of my girls thoroughly enjoyed!

(In other words, I guess we’ll have to head back that way sometime soon then – though maybe without the girls this time around so that Chantelle and I can give some of their other offerings a proper go…)

As always, a useful map:

Related Link: Asara Wine Estate & Hotel | Facebook

Food and Sculptures at Tokara Delicatessen in Stellenbosch (2016-09-17) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 29 DEC 2016

I used my weekends to visit a LOT of different places this year. One of the more visually interesting outings came about in September, when I took my three girls out for a light lunch at the Tokara Delicatessen, situated on the stunning Tokara Wine and Olive estate at the top of Helshoogte Pass outside Stellenbosch.

Tokara is itself a very upmarket estate, so it is pleasing that the team saw it fit to create a secondary, child friendly venue in the form of the excellent Tokara Delicatessen.

Given the farm’s elevated location, you are afforded stunning views of the surrounding mountains, down into the valley below, and all the way across False Bay for that matter. Both the vineyards and olive groves stretch as far as the eye can see, and picturesque is really the only word that fits the scene as you arrive in Tokara’s parking area.

Tokara is know for four things – its wines (made of grapes from three separate districts – Stellenbosch, Elgin and Hemel-en-Aarde), its range of exquisite olive oils, it’s leading fine dining restaurant, and its extensive collection of art and sculptures.

It is this love of art and sculpture that first greets you as you exit the car, with a wide variety of modern sculpture dotted all around the grounds of the Delicatessen and neighbouring Olive Barn.

Peacocks roam freely and visitors enter the ground with an immediate sense of wonder and awe thanks to the beautiful and visually interesting surroundings.

There is a beautiful deck outside the simple but elegantly designed deli, great for warm sunny days, while the cosy interior with its walls of glass simultaneously makes for the perfect winter venue.

There is a large lawn for kids to run around and play on, with the garden itself also dotted with a host of very interesting sculptures to take in (and in some cases, play on!).

The deli’s food is of course much easier on the wallet than Tokara’s restaurant proper, but pleasingly the deli’s food is just as good, with us thoroughly enjoying what was set down before us on the day.

Naturally, Chantelle was in love with every single aspect of the place, whilst the girls were far more interested in running about outside than sitting inside with boring old mom and dad!

(Obviously I did a lot of strolling about as well, snapping loads of photos and ambling about the openly accessible vineyards and olive groves out back whenever the opportunity arose.)

With lunch done and Chantelle’s interior/product browsing curiosity now sated, the girls and I then trundled down Tokara’s sculpture path, an easy walk through the olive trees and then down the road to Tokara proper, with the route again being dotted all along with some interesting sculptures and pretty flowers to boot.

So in summary: Even if it is just a visit to the kid friendly, more accessible Tokara Delicatessen at Tokara, you can’t help coming away from that place feeling just that little more… sophisticated.

Highly recommended.

Here is a useful map if you wish to explore the exquisite world of Tokara yourself:

Related Link: Tokara Delicatessen | Tokara

Exploring the Lawns of Spier in Stellenbosch (2016-09-11) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 27 DEC 2016

Back in September Chantelle and I took the girls out for a visit to Eagle Encounters at the world famous Spier Wine Farm. Of course, any visit to the beautiful grounds of Spier is not complete with an amble down its many scenic walkways, admiring the art installations, the gables of the beautiful Cape Dutch architecture, the lush gardens and picnic areas, and of course breathing in that fresh Stellenbosch air. (Wine Tasting is a must as well, but that is often easier when you don’t have little ones darting all about you, excited at the prospect of touching owls and seeing eagles!)

Spier has for years now been one of the leaders (if not THE leader) in the wine estate as a destination tourism industry, and these days are certainly no different.

There is a literal smorgasbord of things to see/do on the wine farm, like tasting wine at their purpose built tasting room, enjoying a picnic on their endless lawns with a picnic basket stocked by the Eight To Go Deli, heading out on one of the many walking tours around the estate, feasting at either Eight or the Hoghouse BBQ & Bakery, shopping at the Craft Market and Gift Shop, relaxing at the Spa, learning about birds of prey at Eagle Encounters, exploring the vineyards on Segways, taking in the Spier Art Collection, or resting your head in one of the lovely rooms of the Spier Hotel.

It is impossible not to spend a lot of time then when at Spier, and so if you have never been there before, then you should know that a visit to the Stellenbosch winelands isn’t quite complete without a visit to the iconic Spier wine farm.

As you would expect from any place established way back in 1692, Spier (one of South Africa’s oldest wine farms by the way) has a fascinating history and a legacy for those interested in that sort of thing to discover.

In terms of architecture, naturally Spier has a lot of fine examples of the iconic Cape Dutch styled houses on display, with a staggering 21 historic gables that can be found on the estate.

As I said, our particular outing on the day was very much centered around our visit to the Owls and Eagles at Eagle Encounter, but we did stroll around the grounds as much as the little ones would allow for, with a stop for a quick lunch at the brilliant Hoghouse BBQ & Bakery.

I would love to explore a lot more, so I reckon a return visit for just Chantelle and myself might soon be in order! ;)

In case you want to go and check it out for yourself, here’s a handy map:

Bonus: Spier published this polished video about the current state of their operation to Youtube in May 2015. Great at summing up the vibe of such a great Stellenbosch space:

Related Link: Spier Wine Farm

Bratwurst from Hoghouse BBQ & Bakery at Spier in Stellenbosch (2016-09-11) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 08 NOV 2016

Based in Ndabeni, Hoghouse Brewing Co. started out as a craft brewery before expanding into artisan bread making and believe it or not, Texan-style smokehouse barbeque food. Following a successful season or two of their popular bakery at the ever beautiful Spier Wine Estate outside Stellenbosch, the Hoghouse BBQ & Bakery is now back bigger and better, with a giant new smoker and a tasty barbeque menu to go along with it!

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Having come to Spier for a bit of bird watching at Eagle Encounters, we decided to give the Hoghouse BBQ & Bakery a go for a lightning quick lunch – and pleasingly, despite the lack of a booking, they were able to help us out with a small table right before the lunch rush began!

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If you are looking for smoked meat decadence, then Hoghouse’s menu certainly doesn’t disappoint, but because we were a  little on the clock, it had to be something small – hence some handmade fries for the girls to nibble on (they were too busy rolling around on Spier’s lawns in any event to even bother with actual food!), a good looking salad for Chantelle, and a bratwurst hotdog of all things for me.

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Mind you, I wasn’t just content with savouring their food alone – no, I also enjoyed one of their signature craft brews which happily turned out to be well worth it in terms of flavour.

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The staff were awesome, the vibe really cool, and surrounded by the Cape Dutch architecture and beauty that is Spier’s grounds, pretty much everything now points to the fact that we need to head out that way again for a proper lunch as soon as the chance arises.

After all, have you seen that BBQ listing on their menu!!!

A handy map:

Related Link: Hoghouse BBQ & Bakery | Facebook | Spier Wine Estate

Flower and Plane Watching at the Stellenbosch Flying Club (2016-09-03) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 21 SEP 2016

With Chantelle and Tarryn treating her mom to a surprise high tea at the Mount Nelson (in celebration of Cheryl’s birthday), the girls and I were left to our own devices – and ordered to kill time until a big family birthday braai get together come that evening.

So the kids and I did what I currently enjoy doing the most – we hit the road and went exploring.

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Apart from the two interesting finds that we did make on the day, the first being Vredenhof Organic Estate in Somerset West, and the second being the Jan Marais Nature Reserve in Stellenbosch, the most colourful of the lot was our small detour to the Stellenbosch Flying Club to do a bit of plane watching.

You see, an unexpected bonus lay in wait for us: the airstrip had been transformed into a colourful wild flower display, thanks to Spring being currently in the air!

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Jessica decided that she was quite content to rest and watch planes from the comfort of the car (parked under a nice and shady tree), so it was just Emily and myself then that happily wandered about the grounds, admiring the blooming flowers and excitedly watching the odd plane take off and come back in again for landing.

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It was an absolutely gorgeous day out, and we spotted quite a few people relaxing at the clubhouse restaurant. (Interesting fact: with over 600 members and 160 aircraft based on the airfield, Stellenbosch is now considered one of the biggest Flying Clubs in South Africa).

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Much to Emily’s annoyance, I paid far too much attention to the historic De Havilland Vampire on display, but it couldn’t really be helped – this is after all the plane that for all intent and purpose ushered in the jet age for the South African Air Force (SAAF) back in the day.

Anyway, the point is that this was a rather nice, quick and rewarding stop on a day which in the end was going to turn out to be quite a long one indeed!

Oh, seeing as access to the flying club is open to the general public, I’ve gone and added this map in case you also want to head out that way and watch some planes – or grab an introductory flight lesson like I did last year! ;)

Related Link: Stellenbosch Flying Club | Facebook

Exploring the Jan Marais Nature Reserve in Stellenbosch (2016-09-03) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 20 SEP 2016

The impact that the wealthy farmer, politician and later philanthropist, Jan Marais had on Stellenbosch cannot be overstated. Having made his fortune first in the diamond fields at the confluence the Vaal and Orange Rivers, he then turned his hand to farming and moved to Stellenbosch, where he quickly established himself as a leading figure of the town and in fact, became the first representative of Stellenbosch to serve in the House of Assembly when South Africa became a Union in 1910.

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In addition to being instrumental in the founding of Naspers and Die Burger (he provided a lot of the financing), Jan Marais also left a large amount of money in his will towards the establishment of the Stellenbosch University, establishing it out of the existing Victoria College. His testament also provided for the establishment of HJMNF (Het Jan Marais Nationale Fonds), which currently awards some R20 million annually to a number of developmental projects in Stellenbosch and elsewhere in support of the Afrikaans language.

Oh, and just because he could, he also donated a massive 23 ha piece of land for use as a nature reserve – and in so doing, the Jan Marais Nature Reserve public park was born.

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This sprawling, municipal run park serves two main purposes, one of which is providing a safe haven for the region’s naturally occurring vegetation, with the park comprising of two primary vegetation types: Swartland Renosterveld to the north and Swartland Alluvium Fynbos towards the southern edge.

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The other purpose is of course is to be a freely available green space for the residents of Stellenbosch to make use of – thus the many picnic lawns and even small playground area to be enjoyed!

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There are a lot of rambling dirt paths to follow through a big variety of various types of vegetation, and with Spring in the air, the fynbos was certainly putting on a show for the girls and myself on our day of exploration!

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Apart from the local inhabitants that include all manner of birds, rabbits and of course tortoises, Jan Marais Nature Reserve is also dotted with public art all over the place – in fact, you can make a whole morning out of just tracking these often quite whimsical (in fairness, that’s being a kind to a lot of the displays) sculpture pieces down!

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There is also a labyrinth on show (as well as an eco-centre and outdoor gym mind you), but apart from the spectacular landscape views afforded from within the park, for me the surprise star of the show was finding renowned sculptor Dylan Lewis’ Elevated Leopard sculpture standing on display.

(It can be spotted in front of the thatch roofed restrooms, which themselves can be found towards the front, central area of the park.)

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As you might imagine, the girls and I spent a good couple of hours wandering around the park, tracking tortoises, flowers, sculptures and termite mounds, but given the size of the park (not to mention the girls’ short legs), there is still plenty of it left to be seen.

So I guess a return trip is inevitable then?

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I went a bit overboard in terms of taking photos on the day, but I have now trimmed the masses – even so, the gallery on today’s post is a bit on the large side.

Sorry, not sorry, about that.

Note: By this stage, the girls were hot, tired and hungry (we had already spent the morning exploring Somerset West’s Vredenhof Organic Estate, as well as pop in to view some planes and flowers at the Stellenbosch Flying Club mind you), and after much pleading and wailing, I relented and took them for some Chicken McNugget Happy Meals at the local Stellenbosch McDonald’s – a place I haven’t frequented in literally years!

This they liked.

(And then it was off to Monty and Cheryl’s place in Bellville, seeing as we had a massive surprise birthday party for Cheryl lined up for the evening.)

Anyway, here is a map if you too want to go and wander about or enjoy a picnic in the very accessible Jan Marais Nature Reserve – bonus, entry is free:

Related Link: Jan Marais Nature Reserve | Stellenbosch

Fun on the Foofy Slide at Vredenbosch in Stellenbosch (2016-08-27) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 19 SEP 2016

I’ve already posted about Vredenbosch, this gem of a kid friendly find that I made with the girls the other day, but what I didn’t get around to was posting any photos of the very fun “flying fox” style foofy (foefie) slide (also known as a zip-line for any non South Africans reading this) that you can find on the obstacle course/animal grazing grounds in front of the restaurant.

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Obviously Jessica wanted a ride on it at first sight (which surprisingly went very well), and after seeing her sister having all the fun, obviously Emily also wanted in on the action too.

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Amazingly, this also went rather well (though with her I stuck close by!).

The girls probably had me pulling and pushing them along the line for at least an hour, and had an absolute blast of a time in the process.

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Even the free roaming alpacas came in for a closer look! (Much to little Emily’s horror of course!)

A highly recommended outing if you have kids with a lot of energy and in need of a LOT of space to run around and play in!

Here’s a handy map in case your kids bug you to take them there for some fun:

Related Link: Vredenbosch Restaurant

Miniature Horses and Alpacas at Vredenbosch in Stellenbosch (2016-08-27) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 17 SEP 2016

I stumbled across this gem of a kid friendly place in Stellenbosch by the name of Vredenbosch. It is situated along the R304, heading out of Stellenbosch, on what is or was Pete’s Adventure Farm (I’m struggling to ascertain as to whether or not Pete’s is still a thing – certainly the horse rides through the nearby wildlife sanctuary appears to still be alive and well, based on the website some Googling turned up).

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According to the waitress that helped the girls and I out with some ice cream and coffee on the day (we were a little hot and bothered following our morning of gallivanting at Klein Joostenberg and its surrounds), Vredenbosch hasn’t been operating for all that long, but has already proven quite popular for the hosting of kids birthday parties, kitchen teas and that sort of gathering – thanks primarily to its remote location and humongous wide open space which is just perfect for letting the kids run wild in.

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I didn’t really order food, so I can’t comment on that, but the menu seemed to cover all the bases, and the girls certainly enjoyed both their milkshake and ice-creams. (Apparently though, they are still waiting on their liquor licence – which was a bit of a surprise considering the location). 

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We sat in the shade of the outside area, but once the group of ladies celebrating a kitchen tea moved on, we did venture inside to get a better look at what turns out to be quite a spacious restaurant interior.

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The real stars of the show were however the miniature horses roaming around the enclosed field, which Jessica immediately made a beeline for. There are also these two awesomely chilled alpacas wandering about, Lucio and Frost, who are quite curious about anyone that steps into their domain.

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While Jess rather enjoyed having all these animals freely wander about, Emily was of course absolutely terrified – meaning that whenever they would come in close to investigate us, she would tearfully disappear behind my legs faster than what I could blink!

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Apart from the animals roaming about, the expansive field also houses a wooden obstacle course as well as a wooden jungle gym. However, the star of the field is without a doubt the foofy slide (or zipline as it is otherwise known), which at the end of the day provided at least an hour’s worth of entertainment (if not more) to the girls! (More pics in a follow up post!)

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So yes, as you might imagine, the girls and I ended up spending quite a bit of time at Vredenbosch on the day. In other words, a good find indeed!

Here it is on the map in case you think your kids might also like to give it a go:

Related Link: Vredenbosch Restaurant

Chasing Chickens through Van Den Berg Garden Village in Stellenbosch (2016-08-27) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 11 SEP 2016

The area around Klein Joostenberg has a lot to offer, and one of the more visually interesting ones is the slightly ramshackle Van den Berg Garden Village, the unusual plant nursery that greets you when you get out of your car in the car park at the Klein Joostenberg complex.

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Just across the street from Ludwig’s Roses Winelands, and adjacent to the Joostenberg Deli and Butchery,  Van den Berg Garden Village is the work of Dutch-born Toos van den Berg, who studied horticulture before travelling around Europe, arriving in Africa and marrying a man from the Cape.

After developing nurseries in Dieprivier, Durbanville and Kirstenbosch, she eventually moved to this spot, and the result is one of the most interesting nurseries that marries horticulture and art in sometimes quite the eccentric way.

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It was the sound of free ranging chickens that pulled us in, and we spent a fair bit of time ducking and diving among all the shaded little pathways, discovering overrun pieces of art, beautiful flowering plants, and of course, chickens.

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Around 80% of the plants in the nursery are indigenous, supplemented with some intriguing exotic plants from all over the planet. As Toos has remarked before, “The birds don’t know the difference”! ;)

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An interesting little find for all the gardeners out there, that’s for sure.

Related Link: Van den Berg Garden Village Nursery