There have been numerous exciting new developments across South Africa’s winelands, with fresh occasions awaiting wine-lovers looking for new experiences.
What follows is but a small selection to kick-start your visit to the vineyards and wineries of the Cape and beyond this June.
Stellenbosch: An impressive selection at new emporium
Stellenbosch has been in the news lately for the immense growth in the number of its wine bars, urban tasting venues and retailers. Among these was a significant addition, an emporium offering an extensive collection of Stellenbosch wines for purchase from a premises and online, at cellar door prices.
The Simon Wine Emporium was opened in association with Stellenbosch Wine Routes and is affiliated to De Warenmarkt, on the corner of Ryneveld and Van Riebeeck Streets.
The online emporium stocks 145 top wines from 73 Stellenbosch Wine Routes member estates, across its five sub-routes. It also incorporates old vine wines administered by the Old Vine Project as well as rare, vintage wines unavailable elsewhere.
The Simon in its name is a nod to the town’s founding father, Simon van der Stel, while Stellenbosch’s winemaking tradition dates to the mid-17th century.
The Simon Wine Emporium at De Warenmarket is open Monday to Saturday, from 11:00 to 18:00, and Sundays, 11:00 to 15:00. For more information, visit www.simonwineemporium.co.za or contact Stellenbosch Wine Routes on 27 21 886 4310.
Plettenberg Bay: Milestone for Bitou Vineyards
After a number of years of renovation, Plettenberg Bay’s largest winery with 13,5ha under vine, has reached a major milestone – the opening of its restaurant and tasting room.
The farm rose to prominence with its polo fields, which were established in 2000. Nine years later, these were however planted to vines. Ireland-born Ron Leacy acquired Bitou in 2014 and set about expanding the vineyards and varieties. The first bottling of Bitou wines followed a year later.
Conversion of the old stable block into a winery was started in late 2019. Today, its wines are made by Anton Smal.
In April, Bitou celebrated another achievement – the opening of its restaurant on the site of a former tractor shed. The project was the work of local architect Roberto Boni and designer David Bown.
The venue can seat around 130 people indoors and, on a veranda, overlooking the vineyards. It has three lounge areas and a fireplace.
Heading the kitchen is ex-Boschendal chef Bianca Barnard, who has compiled a seasonally-inspired menu of sharing plates, with vegan and vegetarian options too. Among the highlights is ice-cream that uses Bitou wines as an ingredient.
The kitchen also prepares the charcuterie, cheese and bread platters available with wine tastings at the venue.
Bitou Vineyards is situated off the N2, northeast of Plettenberg Bay and less than 10 minutes from the town centre. Its restaurant is open Tuesday to Sunday from 11:00 to 18:00. For more information, visit www.bitouvineyards.co.za or call 27 44 004 0369.
Prince Albert: New winery for Fernskloof Wines
The Karoo town of Prince Albert may not commonly be associated with wine although it has a long vinous history. This story is reflected through Fernskloof Wines, which recently opened its cellar and tasting room on the town’s main road, at 20 Church Street.
The brand was founded in 2010 by Diederik le Grange. A graduate in viticulture and oenology at the University of Stellenbosch, he worked harvests in Australia, America, Uruguay, France, and New Zealand before returning to his roots.
His ancestors are linked to the French Huguenots, with one line settling outside Prince Albert in the years around 1820. A descendant, Joseph, born in 1841, was the first Le Grange to commercially plant vines, and establish a small winery, mainly used for distillation to make brandy.
While the original Angeliersbosch family farm has since been sold, Diederik has rekindled this history, now making his Fernskloof wines from vineyards around Prince Albert.
The winery and tasting room are open from 10:00 to 15:00 daily, with Sunday tasting by pre-appointment. For information, visit www.fernskloof.co.za, call 27 83 709 6462 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bot River: Farro restaurant at Gabrielskloof
The Gabriëlskloof Winery is a well-known for its wine, made by Peter-Allan Finlayson. Its location is also well-known to passers-by on the N2 between Botriver and Caledon. For those who’ve stopped, the reward has been the discovery of its restaurant, now in new hands.
Called Farro (the ancestor of Spelt grain), it is the establishment of husband-and-wife duo of Alex and Eloise Windebank. They initially launched the eatery in Johannesburg after moving from the UK, then created it as a pop-up in Cape Town’s Bree Street after relocating to the Mother City. In April, it settled permanently at the famous wine farm.
The owners describe their offering as “classic-meets-comfort” and a “refined, pared back approach to farm style dining”. The menu is seasonally led, with an a la carte selection.
Farro is open for breakfast and lunch from Monday to Sunday from 09:00 with last bookings at 15:00. To book, visit Dineplan at https://www.dineplan.com/resta....
For more information about Gabrielskloof, visit www.gabrielskloof.co.za or call tel: 27 28 284 9865.