Tag Archives: wine estate

Exploring the Estate of Vergelegen in Somerset West (2017-07-01) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 30 MAY 2018

A visit to Somerset West’s historic Vergelegen estate is always a treat, thanks to its selection of stunning restaurants, the elegant wine tasting venue, the beautiful (and functional) gardens, its rolling lawns and tree rich grounds, the fascinating history on show in the preserved manor house and library, and of course, the 300 year old Camphor and other ‘Champion’ trees dotted about the estate.

I have of course written about Vergelegen and its long history before, but it is worth keeping in mind that this wine producing estate (now owned and maintained through the deep pockets of Anglo American) was founded all the way back in 1700 – and indeed a large part of the farm’s original grounds served as the base for the eventual 1822 founding of Somerset West itself.

In other words, Vergelegen is very much integral to the story of the Helderberg region.

Surprisingly, the estate is quite child friendly these days, with a great play area and of course the large open lawns all making for a very welcome kid distraction for those times when you just want to sit back with a glass of wine (or warm cup of coffee) in hand, take in a deep breathe of crisp outdoor air, and enjoy the spectacular landscape views on offer.

One such opportunity arose just before the holidays last year, when we met up with Miguel, Retha, and her folks for a cup of coffee and a stroll around the estate – something my two little girls very much enjoyed once I told them about the bridge that needed crossing and the magical tree cave that needed finding on the other side.

They were rather pleased then when this turned out to be entirely true for a change.

Vergelegen’s well maintained grounds are always such a pleasure to explore, and indeed, whether you are interested in wine, art, fine landscapes, or even historic buildings, there is pretty much always something for everyone at this very enchanting estate.

Related Link: Vergelegen Wine Estate | Wikipedia | Somerset West

Art in the Mosaic Kraal at Spier Wine Farm in Stellenbosch (2017-09-16) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 21 MAR 2018

When it comes to picking out the granddaddy of visitor friendly wine estates in Stellenbosch, then surely the venerable Spier comes out right at the top of the list. It has been on the tourist welcoming bandwagon for many years now, and as a family we’ve also enjoyed the beautiful estate more than just a few times in the past.

Although the list of things to do at Spier has ebbed and flowed over the years, these days the wine estate still offers a smorgasbord of activities to both the day and overnight visitor – from wine tasting, picnics on their luscious lawns, self-guided walks and Segway tours, to dining at either Spier Farm Kitchen,  the Hotel Restaurant, Eight Restaurant, or the excellent Hoghouse BBQ & Bakery.

You can ride a horse, browse the Craft Market, shop at the Spier Gift Shop, watch birds of prey at Eagle Encounters, get a treatment at The Spa, visit the Spier Artisan Studio, or simply admire the countless examples of public art on display.

And then of course there is the plethora of art and music festivals that seem to take place all the time!

On of the oldest farms in South Africa, and one of the most environmentally conscious, Spier also puts a lot of effort in its community upliftment projects as well as supporting local art through its art academy and various art projects.

On that note, one of the newer displays on the grounds is the Mosaic Kraal, containing various mosaic art pieces created by local artisans.

Given that I had just entertained Jessica and Emily with a rewarding visit to the owls and eagles of Eagle Encounters, I thought it only fair that I take some time for myself and get a chance to leisurely browse through some of Spier’s art pieces – much to the frustration of two easily bored little girls.

So I sauntered a little slower to make sure it took just that little bit longer…

It is really is hard not to enjoy strolling around Spier’s expansive grounds!

Related Link: Spier Wine Farm | Stellenbosch

Kids at Play at Eaglevlei in Stellenbosch (2017-10-07) Kid Activities | Photo Gallery 02 NOV 2017

I’ve mentioned Eaglevlei before, but it is worth iterating again – if you have small kids with a lot of energy and the weather isn’t all that fantastic outside (or you just want to treat them for a bit), then a play session in this Stellenbosch wine farm’s massive, tented kids play area will definitely go down well!

Definitely one of the biggest kids play areas here in the Cape, the equipment is well suited for the smaller kids. Also quite nice, they have a separated play area for the toddlers, which comes in quite handy if you feel that the older kids are playing a bit rough at the moment.

The actual play area takes up about a third of the massive tent, with the other two thirds left open for people to sit and celebrate a kids party (as you might imagine, they host a LOT of these), or maybe watch a kiddy movie on the big screen, or just to sit and drink a cup of coffee while your kids run amok on the jungle gyms.

The only downside of the way Eaglevlei is currently set up is that you can’t really enjoy/make use of the great restaurant setting if your kids are too small to play in the play park without supervision, seeing as the two are very separated from one another (basically, you can’t even see the tent from the restaurant!).

(Translation: Chantelle and I sat down and twiddled our thumbs in the tent while the girls had some fun. Still, it was only fair – we had just made them sit with us while we tucked into some delicious pies at the more or less nearby Potbelly coffee shop).

It’s worth noting that entrance is of course not free – it is about R50 for toddlers aged 0-3 and R80 for kids aged 4-12, and unfortunately, other than an open grass lawn outside of the tent, there are no outside play activities like jungle gyms or something else along those line.

A bit of a shame, but makes sense if you consider that they are trying to run a business here.

On this particular day that we visited, I kind of forgot to take a lot of photos – and the photos that I did grab weren’t all that great. Nevertheless, this post couldn’t exactly be listed in the Photo Gallery category if I didn’t list them here:

So, a good option if you are in the area and completely stumped on how to entertain the kids.

Related Link: Eaglevlei Wine Farm

Japan Day 2017 at Blaauwklippen Family Market in Stellenbosch (2017-03-12) Markets | Photo Gallery 10 SEP 2017

Back in March of this year, the local Japanese Embassy hosted their fifth annual Japan Day celebrations in the form of a Japanese-themed, entertainment-filled market day in conjunction with the weekly Blaauwklippen Family Market in Stellenbosch (who themselves LOVE hosting themed market days anyway!).

Now we as a family love the Blaauwklippen Market thanks to it being such a great, family friendly affair (besides, Catje’s Pancakes makes hands down, the best pancakes found at any of our local markets!), and so the addition of even more free (and Japanese-themed!) entertainment made it a proper no-brainer to visit on the day.

So that’s exactly what the girls and I then did.

We first kicked things off with a bit of a stroll around the lovely, historic Blaauwklippen Estate, admiring the white Cape Dutch-styled walls (well in truth, only I was admiring, the girls were busy picking up leaves and acorns),  and reveling in the breathtaking mountain views on offer from the estate.

Next we picked our way past the horde of international tourists (there for the wine and not the market), before picking a spot and settling down in front of the main stage.

The event kicked off with some words from the Japanese Ambassador and the KFM DJ hosts, followed by some energetic drumming from the always entertaining Tamashi Daiko taiko drumming troupe.

Following that, we browsed through the entire market, lingering past all the unusual Japanese food and craft exhibition stalls, before stopping for a fair bit in front of the Judo exhibition mat, something Jessica ended up taking quite an interest in!

As expected, we feasted on pancakes, bought some kids story books, and then ended off our market visit with some time spent hanging around the kids play area, with the girls enjoying pony rides and of course a trip on the ever present Blaauwtrein quadbike train ride!

In other words, yet another perfect market day outing.

(Honestly, Blaauwklippen is always nice to visit, regardless of whether you are there for the market or for some wine tasting and fine dining.)

Related Link: Blaauwklippen Family Market | Blaauwklippen Wine Estate | Office of Consul of Japan in Cape Town

Things to See in South Africa: Vergenoegd’s Duck Squad in Stellenbosch Travel Attractions 04 AUG 2017

The Stellenbosch wine estate of Vergenoegd went from being completely unheard of to one of Cape Town’s “must visit” attractions in literally the space of a year and a half, and while a lot of this is of course down to some really good marketing, the lion’s share of kudos has to go to the farm’s unusual, eco-friendly pest control scheme – their duck squad.

Cared for by duck handler Denzel Metthys, around a 1,000 trained Indian Runner ducks are used to control snails and other pests in Vergenoegd’s vineyards.

These ducks, who put on daily parades in front of the manor house, are essentially the wine estate’s superstars, and as such are treated rather well.

As for the wine estate itself, well the team over at Vergenoegd produce some rather nice wines, have a great restaurant operating out of the old manor house, host a couple of events, and nowadays, is home to a popular weekend farmers market.

A team over at Great Big Story put together this great little feature on this feathered story:

Well worth putting on your “things to see” in the Western Cape list.

Related Link: Vergenoegd Wine Estate | YouTube

Wine Tasting with Art at Saronsberg in Tulbagh (2016-12-11) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 01 AUG 2017

Forged in the 2000’s and named after the mountain whose western slope is home to many of their vineyards, Tulbagh’s award winning Saronsberg, despite the farm itself’s deep historic roots, is actually a relatively new wine producer, having only produced its first vintage back in 2004.

Saronsberg Wine Cellar is known as a patron of the arts, and as such have married their wine tasting facilities with an unique art gallery, showcasing the work of a broad spectrum of famous and proudly South African artists.

I’m particularly fond of Angus Taylor’s work, and his hauntingly beautiful “From Earth From Water” (more commonly known as Lady of the Lake) sculpture serves as Saronsberg’s official mascot.

In addition to the actual wine (and nowadays olive oil) production, Saronsberg caters as a superb conference venue, and if that wasn’t enough, accommodation in the form of elegant self-catering vineyard cottages is also on the books.

As for the wine,  well two of Saronsberg’s red wines stand at the top of SAWi’s (The South African Wine Index) scored list, meaning that you are guaranteed to taste something remarkable if you ever find yourself in the area.

Which is exactly what happened when Chantelle and I paid a visit to their wonderfully modern wine cellar facilities last December.

A perfect marriage of wine and art.

(Hint: Angus Taylor’s “Conduit” stone man is a good indication that you’ve successfully navigated your way to Saronsberg!)

Related Link: Saronsberg Wine Cellar

Lunch at Eaglevlei and Play at Weltevreden in Stellenbosch (2017-03-05) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 30 MAY 2017

One particular Sunday back in March this year, Chantelle and I must REALLY have been in the mood for a proper Sunday afternoon drive, because basically our day ended up looking like this: first food at Eaglevlei and then play at Weltevreden (both in Stellebosch), before moving on to scones at Hillcrest Berry Orchards (just outside Pniel), which in turn was then followed up with a drive through the idyllic Franschhoek and of course a jaunt over the Franschhoek Pass. Next was one quick photo stop at the nearly empty Theewaterskloof Dam, before we rounded off our impromptu trip with a drive through the picturesque Viljoen’s Pass to reach Grabouw – and then straight on to Sir Lowry’s Pass to get back home to our beloved little hometown of Gordon’s Bay!

I started off by mentioning that we first had an early lunch at Eaglevlei Wine Farm, a Stellenbosch situated, wine producing farm that just so happens to also be particularly geared towards tourism – aimed almost specifically, believe it or not, at us locals!

So in addition to their wine tasting facility, Eaglevlei is also home to a large, welcoming restaurant, a pizzeria & beer garden in the form of The Nest, and perhaps most surprising of all, a giant indoor kids play park!

Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, they even have their own indoor movie screen, perfect for date nights, or as they call it, Movies in the Vines!

Also, and this is a pro tip mind you – be sure to keep an eye out for a very vicious little step leading down to the kids play park. Nearly did a very impromptu tuck & roll manoeuvre myself in case you’re wondering…

Lunch at Eaglevlei was pretty good, but because we didn’t particularly feel like sitting inside watching the kids play, we decided to head back towards Stellenbosch for a cup of coffee at Weltevreden Estate, another great option for couples with kids thanks to their awesome Kids Carnival (and little more upmarket Lekke Neh) space.

So that is exactly what we did (though, only after first stopping to buy some of Eaglevlei’s rather enjoyable wine).

Naturally, and as always I guess, the kids had a ball.

So, just in case you want to check them out for yourself, first a map of Eaglevlei:

Followed by a map of Weltevreden:

And there you have it – Two rather enjoyable family-friendly outing options in Stellenbosch then!

Related Link: Eaglevlei Wine Farm | Weltevreden Estate

Wine Tasting and Pizza at Val du Charron in Wellington (2016-12-11) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 16 MAY 2017

Last year December saw Chantelle and I break away from the kids for a weekend in Tulbagh. There was of course a lot of wine tasting, eating and sightseeing, and for the drive home, we opted for the long way around, going via Bainskloof Pass and through Wellington – mostly because we REALLY wanted to stop and taste wines at the famed Val Du Charron Wine and Olive Estate.

Originally proclaimed in 1699, the working farm of Val Du Charron is currently a darling of Wellington tourism, with its offerings including both 5 star and 4 star accommodation options, a spa, wine tasting, wine and olive production, and two eating options, the first in the form of The Local Grill, and the second a new family friendly pizza-centric offering known as Piza e Vino.

Lying on the slopes of the Bovlei valley, the historic Cape Dutch architecture of the estate is framed with beautiful views of both the Groenberg and Hawequa mountains, and on this particularly hot, windless Summer’s day, we were treated to cloudless bright blue sky as far as one could see.

The wine tasting took place in a small intimate little wine tasting room, where our host took us through some of Val du Charron’s amazing wines and their associated tales – with their Black Countess sticking particularly favourably in my memory.

For lunch we opted for the busy Piza e Vino, choosing to escape the blistering heat by sitting inside the cool restaurant building as opposed to all the families clustered under the umbrellas while the kids enjoyed the water play area outside. (A sacrifice of view I know, but man, you wouldn’t believe how hot it was on the day!)

Pleasingly, the pizza was pretty damn good. (No wonder the restaurant was as busy as it seemed!)

So. Art, food, drink and a view – what more could one ask for?

Val Du Charron is a particularly beautiful space with a lot of history mixed in with plenty of modern touches, making for a very definite stop if you ever find yourself being a tourist (wine drinking or not) in the area!

Related Link: Val Du Charron Wine and Olive Estate | Piza e Vino

Vegetarian Burgers at Lourensford Market in Somerset West (2017-04-09) Markets | Photo Gallery 30 APR 2017

Last year we were away from home for at least one weekend every month. This year we’re doing it a little different, and rather going away for one big July holiday instead. However, all that this then means is that we now get to go on a LOT more local adventures every weekend instead!

(Plus, now with Chantelle no longer working at the guest house in favour of doing her own cake-related thing full-time again, there are plenty of great spots that the girls and I need to first show her around anyway!)

Not that the excellent Lourensford Market is one of those mind you. No, as we’ve already previously established, this particular Somerset West market held on the grounds of the venerable Lourensford Wine Estate is definitely one of her firm favourites when it comes to the farmer’s market scene.

On this particular day, the market as always was buzzing and busy, so the Lotter girls and I found a nice space on the soft grass banks around the water fountain, where we then took turns fetch and devouring all sorts of food whilst watching Emily and Jessica have a ball in rolling down the surrounding grass mounds.

For some or other reason, Chantelle chose to tuck in (and enjoy) this monstrosity that is apparently a bunless vegetable burger, while I far more sensibly stuck to some Mediterranean ostrich dish.

I didn’t particularly feel like taking lots of photos on the day, so I didn’t, snapping only a few quick ones so that you can get a feel for what the market was like on this particularly pleasant, sunny and windless Sunday afternoon:

I’ve said it before, and it is worth saying again – the Lourensford Market is definitely one of those markets worth going to, even if you’re only going for the incredible setting!

Also, in case you are keen and in the area, Lourensford Market also hosts twilight market events which are pretty cool and well worth coming out for if the weather holds up. The next two of these night markets are on the 5th and 19th of May respectively, so you may as well start planning already…

Related Links: Lourensford Market | Facebook | Lourensford Wine Estate