A Cape Winery That Has It All
Blaauwklippen is situated on the slopes of the Stellenbosch Mountain, not far from the town of Stellenbosch, and is one of the oldest wine farms in South Africa. It was founded in 1682 by Gerrit Jansz Visser, which makes it 331 years old this year. The first vineyards were planted in 1688. Another interesting historic snippet is that Cecil John Rhodes became the owner of Blaauwklippen in 1899…but only for one day! “Blaauwklippen” means “blue stones” and is named after the blue granite outcrops on the estate.
In 1971 the Stellenbosch Wine Route was founded and Blaauwklippen was one of the first members. In our opinion, Blaauwklippen is one of the Cape wineries that pretty much has it all, as there are enough activities to keep the whole family happy. It’s in a gorgeous setting just off the road a bit, with expansive lawns, plenty of trees, and views up to the mountains. The first building that catches your eye after parking is the Wine Center—a white Cape Dutch-style building shaded by huge wild fig trees. Here you can taste and buy any/all of the superb Blaauwklippen wines, plus other wine-related products and some special “Weinwurst” (wine sausage). The estate has many wine offerings, notably cabernet sauvignon, malbec, merlot and shiraz for reds and a lovely sauvignon blanc. It is also well known for its zinfandel—zinfandel was first planted here in 1977. They also produce a number of good brandies.
Next door is a small Carriage Museum in the old carriage house, with a collection of old carriages. Next to that is a large
pen/paddock with animals—many goats, a couple of alpacas, and a couple of ponies. Kids love watching the animals, especially the goats jumping up and down on their special platforms. Here too is a small kids’ playground, with swings and a jungle gym, always well used. Many families sit on the grass nearby enjoying a picnic, of food provided by the restaurant—the waiters bring out white cloths and then baskets of picnic food (make reservations 24 hours in advance). More on the restaurant below.
Blaauwklippen hosts a Family Market every Sunday from 10am-3pm, a really fun event with food stalls, craft stalls, fresh produce, children’s entertainment, including pony rides, and music. And of course, Blaauwklippen wines. People are encouraged to bring a blanket and relax under the trees.
At the moment Blaauwklippen is also hosting an African Sculpture collection, like a miniature Chapungu Sculpture Park. These are large stone sculptures from Zimbabwe that are designed to be displayed outdoors or in large indoor areas, such as foyers. There are a number of these eye-catching sculptures dotted around the grounds, so you can wander and admire (and buy, maybe?!).
The Barouche Restaurant (the name fits in with the carriage theme) is a very relaxed, family-friendly space with a large shaded outdoor terrace. Note: it’s also a free Wi-fi spot. We had lunch there one weekday and it’s perfect for sitting outside in sunny weather, at the tables with cheerful red and white umbrellas and awnings. The menu is innovative and the food is very good, based on fresh seasonal ingredients, all served on large white plates. Service is really friendly although a little slow, but it didn’t matter, as leisurely is the order of the day when in the winelands. To give an idea of the variety on the menu: our party sampled the avocado soup and gazpacho soup, which were very cleverly divided into two halves in one large bowl; salmon salad; oxtail-stuffed squid; butternut-filled ravioli; a cheese plate with a few fruits and preserves; and the 3-scoop sorbet with unusual flavors (melon, bitter orange, mango). All very tasty and perfect with a bottle of chilled Blaauwklippen sauvignon blanc, followed by coffee. There’s also a kids’ menu and the 3-year old with us loved the mac ‘n cheese and, of course, the scoops of regular icecream!
The restaurant is open daily 9am-5pm, except January 1st, and is closed Mondays and Tuesdays in winter. In summer, they have special Tapas Sundowners Wed-Fri, 4-7pm, and High Tea Mon-Fri, 2:30-5pm.
Two of our favorite Blaauwklippen wines are the Sauvignon Blanc (dry, crisp, hints of gooseberry and kiwi) and the Shiraz (very smooth and fruity with a hint of oak).
The estate is also a good setting for weddings, other special events like birthdays, or conferences.
Wine Tastings: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm (winter), 10am-6:30pm (summer), and 10am-4pm Sunday. Cellar tours are available by appointment only.
Find Blaauwklippen on R44 between Somerset West and Stellenbosch.
For more information go to www.blaauwklippen.com