Hot new arrivals to the Winelands you must see

The new year has heralded the arrival of several new wine experiences. Listed below are fresh attractions in Paarl, Franschhoek, Stellenbosch, Elgin and the Swartland.

Babylonstoren (Franschhoek) officially opened its Story of Wine museum in February. Constructed in a former maturation cellar, the showroom offers a world-class exhibition complete with Virtual Reality pods that simulate a flight through the winery and the bottling process. 

Audio guides are available in seven languages and give visitors the opportunity to learn about wine in a South African and global context. Displays include collections of corkscrews and wine bottles, including Babylonstoren’s first wine bottled in 2011. There’s also a focus on wine enjoyment that unpacks the concept of food pairing as well as aroma and flavour appreciation through, for example, an interactive sensory space. 

The experience was designed with input from several experts including renowned interior designer Etienne Hanekom. Entrance to all the facilities at Babylonstoren, including the new museum, is covered by the once-off gate-fee of R20/adult and R10/child under 12. Contact: 021 863 3852.

Stellenzicht (Stellenbosch) has constructed a contemporary wine tasting space on the farm. In addition to wine, pizza and platters are also served. The addition follows the relaunch of the brand, acquired in 2017 by German wine collector Baron Hans von Staff-Reitzenstein, and a range of eight wines overseen by winemaker L’Re Hughes. 

The designer wine “pod” offers indoor seating as well as on a deck with views of surrounding vineyards and mountains.  Along with wine, pizza and platters are also served. The venue is open available Wednesday to Friday, 10:00 to 18:00; and weekends from 09:00 to 17:00. Contact: 021 880 1103.

Vergenoegd Löw The Wine Estate (Stellenbosch) is undergoing a transformation. Its new restaurant, Geuwels by Bertus Basson, opened a few months ago. Its design reflects the opulent tone of the estate’s overhaul, with a menu that puts familiar South African components like suurvygieskoesisters and spekboom centre stage. 

The restaurant is open Wednesday to Sunday for breakfast and lunch. Picnics are also a new addition while a second, fine dining restaurant called Clara’s Barn will open in first week in March. Contact: 021 202 4373.

Nederburg (Paarl) recently became the new home of the Slow Market. The 13-year-old foodie event moved from Stellenbosch. Its trading hours are Saturdays and Sundays from 9:00 to 15:00. In addition to diverse food and wine refreshments, the market also has stalls of florists, clothing designers, jewellers and similar artisans. 

A new play area with jungle gyms, zip-lines, a treehouse, swings and more have also been added.

Marras wines (Swartland) opened its tasting room and restaurant on the main road connecting Riebeek Kasteel with Riebeek West, in December. Owned by Martin “Marras” Lamprecht, the premises showcases his wines made from grapes sourced from the Swartland and Piekenierskloof. 

In addition to wine, the menu offers platters, burgers, pizza and craft beer. The tasting room is open from Wednesday to Sunday. Contact: 082 491 1948.

Paul Clüver Family Wines (Elgin) appointed a new chef to its restaurant in September last year. Stacey Lee Chan. She was the first-ever South African to win gold at the Chaines des Rotisseurs Commis Rotisseurs and has had a multi-faceted career that included consulting, international judging in addition to cheffing. 

It is open Monday to Sunday, for breakfast and lunch, and dinner only on Fridays. Contact: 021 844 0607.

Laborie Estate (Paarl) has opened The Avenue, a collection of food and drink experiences linked by a shady walkway and aesthetic water-furrow. These include food stalls, a brew pub, a wine bar and the main attraction – Stoep bistro. 

Contemporary design is the hallmark of the space that offers views of the farm vineyards through floor to ceiling windows. Mist-diffusers help to keep both diners and a wall of indoor plants cool. A bike rack invites passing cyclists to pop in too. Contact: 021 807 3232.

The latest addition to wine entrepreneur Charles Back’s legacy is The Polo Pavilion by Back’s at Val de Vie residential estate (Paarl). The fine dining restaurant, with “plantation-style” décor, opened towards the end of last year and is part of a group that now comprises six destinations around Paarl and Stellenbosch. 

The Back’s chain was founded in 2017 as a partnership between Charles Back and Raphaël Chevalier-Bak. Contact: 087 821 1068. 

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