Celebrate the last days of winter discovering lesser-known gems in South Africa’s oldest wine region.
With a winemaking history stretching back to the 1700s, Stellenbosch boasts some of the Cape’s most renowned wine estates. But the region also has many new destinations just waiting to be discovered.
The foodie’s Stellenbosch
For an authentic French experience visit Domaine Coutelier, home to Quint and Floriane Cutler who exchanged a metropolitan lifestyle in France for one in the Cape Winelands. The family left Montmartre in 2011 and settled on a plateau overlooking Devon Valley. British-born Quint’s surname is “coutelier” in French, hence the name of their establishment. They offer three wine ranges: Reserve Coutelier, Coutelier and Festin. Besides their local production, they’re also in the process of establishing a business to import and market European wines.
In the Banhoek Valley lies Oldenburg Vineyards, where the Vanderspuy family produces French classics such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Merlot, Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc. Their tasting room tries to avoid everything associated with what they call “wine tourism hype”. Instead they offer “a peaceful and tranquil environment in which to enjoy a glass of our award-winning wines, backed by friendly and personal attention”. The tasting room was designed by Simon Beerstecher, the architect behind the restoration of Rustenburg, and the interior design was handled by Kelly Hoppen. The brief was to create a comfortable but elegant interior with furnishings sourced locally. A wine tasting at Oldenburg costs R90 a person and includes eight wines and complimentary food. Guests can also stay in the renovated original homestead.
On the R44 heading towards Klapmuts you find Deux Fréres, a boutique vineyard situated at Le Present on the foothills of the Simonsberg Mountain. It’s the culmination of the collective dreams and vision of Stephan and Retief du Toit. After conducting scientific analyses, they planted three different clones of Cabernet Sauvignon that form the backbone of their Liberté Bordeaux blend. They also planted Mourvèdre and Shiraz for their Rhône blend, Fraternité, Petit Verdot and Malbec, and in 2016 they released a Blanc de Noir.
Heading south on the R44, on the slopes of the Helderberg Mountain, you find Grangehurst Winery, a family business that started in 1992 with the conversion of the squash court into a wine cellar. Today Cape Winemakers Guild member Jeremy Walker produces several handcrafted red wines and a dry rosé. Jeremy describes winemaking at Grangehurst as “unhurried, traditional and handcrafted”. The tasting room is accessed from the Eikendal Road and offers beautiful views over the Cape Peninsula and False Bay. There are also self-catering guest cottages on the wine farm. The venue is open for tasting Monday to Friday and by prior arrangement on weekends. Grangehurst wines are also available through the winery’s wine club.
Kyburg Boutique Wines in Devon Valley produces 25 000 bottles annually. Owners Fred and Rosmarie Ruest named the wine farm after a medieval castle near Winterthur in Switzerland. They offer a wine tasting experience with five Kyburg wines, the Kyburg Merlot, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, 33 Latitude and Chenin Blanc, accompanied by biltong, nuts and olives. A portion of the tasting fee is donated to schools in Devon Valley. Be sure to follow the Diary of the Red Pick Up ’53 online at kyburgwine.com, a virtual delivery service all over South Africa by a restored red 1953 pick-up truck. The Barn can also be hired for small events.
At Usana Farming Estate on Klein Welmoed animals are just as important as people. If you buy a carton of the Wineshaw family’s eggs you’ll find a thank you and tribute to the hens who laid them inside. The hens are pasture-reared, which means they roam freely and feast on bugs and grass. They roost in egg mobiles that are moved every day. According to Usana’s website, their eggs have more vitamins A and E, beta carotene and omega-3 fatty acids and less cholesterol than battery-farmed eggs. The cattle graze solely on grass in a pattern based on that of the wildebeest in the Serengeti Plain in East Africa. The wildebeest only cross an area once a year, allowing the vegetation enough time to recover. On the wine side, they produce a Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Gris and barrel-fermented Chenin Blanc through a natural fermentation process.
Good restaurants are a stone’s throw away from literally anywhere in the valley. Cuvée at Simonsig offers breakfast with fresh, seasonal fare over weekends, lunch all week and dinner on Fridays and Saturdays. At Tokara you can enjoy the views over Helshoogte from the restaurant that’s 400 meters above sea level. Award-winning chef Richard Carstens is at the helm in the kitchen, while sommelier Jaap-Henk Koelewijn helps you choose the perfect wine to complement your dish. At Glenelly’s The Vine Bistro chef Christophe Dehosse offers French-inspired dishes such as braised pork cheeks and trout mousse which you can enjoy either indoors or outside under the pergola. The Vine Bistro is open Tuesday to Sunday for lunch and Thursday to Saturday for dinner. Other firm favourites that have withstood the test of time are Bertus Basson’s Overture at Hidden Valley Wines and Terroir at Kleine Zalze.
For a more informal foodie experience, take the family for a stroll around the various food markets in the area, from the Slow Market held every Saturday at Oude Libertas to the Root 44 Market held every weekend at Audacia and home to a popular parkrun on Saturdays. Vergenoegd also hosts a Saturday market with a breakfast run and visitors can enjoy the popular Duck Parade at 10:30 when the flock of 1 100 Indian runner ducks head into the vineyards to do pest control. With pony rides for kids, Blaawklippen’s Sunday market caters for everyone. For a market with a difference, follow #TwilightMarket on Facebook to be notified of the next Lourensford Twilight Market. l
The Cape winelands are a treasure trove of precious experiences and hidden gems. If only you knew a local to show you around! Our Insider’s Guide is like your long-lost best friend in each of the Cape’s 10 wine-producing regions. And you’ve been invited over.
Other adventures to try
- Mountain biking: Delheim, Jordan, Kaapzicht, Middelvlei, Overgaauw
- Hiking: Blaauwklippen, Avontuur, Hartenberg, Idiom, Spier, Thelema, Waterford
- Game drives: Vredenheim, Villiera
- Wine blending: Middelvlei, Vergenoegd, Stellenrust
1 A long lane of trees welcoming visitors to Simonsig 2 Cuvée at Simonsig is a popular meeting place for weekend breakfasts and splendid views. 3 & 4 You can count on Terroir, situated on Kleine Zalze, for fresh food served beautifully 5 French-Cape fare, served with the estate’s best, at The Vine Bistro, Glenelly 6 Stellenbosch Spier wine blending 7 Try your hand at expert blending, hosted by Vergenoeg 8 & 9 Outdoor adventure is synonymous with Delheim 10 The thatched-roof elegance of Oldenburg 11 The Overgaauw vineyards in winter 12 The Grangehurst driveway.
Photos courtesy of Simonsig, Overgaauw, Grangehurst Winery and Stellenbosch Wine Routes