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wineryfarview

Hidden Valley Winery from up on the hill walk

vineyards

Some of Hidden valley’s vineyards

olives

Some of the olive trees

On our last trip to South Africa we were lucky enough to visit a number of wineries we’d never been to before (see Idiom Winery here https://viviennemackie.wordpress.com/2019/04/01/idiom-lunch-with-a-stunning-view/).

Hidden Valley was another one. We’d driven past the entrance many times before on our way up to the end of the road at Uva Mira Winery, but never got around to stopping. Thank goodness our sister-in-law, who lives in the area, decided this was a good lunch place, as it’s another gem, in a stunning location.

wineryfromdeck

Winery buildings from The Deck

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The lake

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Path along the lake to The Deck

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The Deck from the path

This winery is high up on the Stellenbosch Helderberg, just below Uva Mira Winery. After driving up the steep entrance road, you park and then can choose to either walk up the ramp to the large modern tasting room and the fancy Overture Restaurant (reservations and many $$ required!), or take the path along the edge of a small lake, surrounded by lovely indigenous gardens, to The Deck. We chose the latter.

The Deck, a casual eating place, is a floating deck on the lake. The view up to the mountains and the vineyards is spectacular, and it’s an unusual experience to eat and enjoy a bottle of wine while rocking ever so slightly on the water. We had a burger and wine—seems like a strange combination but it worked.

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Us on The Deck

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The Deck and lake from hill walk

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Classic Fragment (Face)

Along the path we passed two large bronze outdoor sculptures; one a face (called Classic Fragment) that has become the icon of Hidden Valley and is now on most of the wine labels; the other is called Ramona, an attractive young female figure. These pieces are only some of the “hidden” gems that one can find around the farm. The same bronze face, just smaller, greets visitors as they walk up the ramp to the tasting room. We also found a gorgeous big cat in a slivery metal (we think a Cape leopard, but there was no identifying plaque) near a parking lot above Overture Restaurant.

 

 

ramona

Ramona

label

Wine label (stuck in my travel notebook)

faceV

I pose with a smaller Classic Fragment

You can take a walk on a circular loop from The Deck up the hill behind, winding through the fynbos, past some of the estate’s vineyards and olive groves, getting a great overview of the estate and across to the mountains. Rod did it while I sat with our sisters-in-law and just enjoyed being on the deck.

In 2015, banker Riaan Stassen (who has been involved with wine for many years) became the new owner of Hidden Valley and oversaw numerous new projects and upgrades. The cellar is still surrounded by vineyards, olive groves, almond orchards, and gorgeous fynbos gardens, but there is now a sculpture studio run by sculptor local Willie Botha

leopard

What we think is a Cape leopard

(1958-), and some luxury accommodation next to the Overture Restaurant.

To get to Hidden Valley, take the R44 towards Stellenbosch. At Mooiberg Farm, turn right into Annandale Road, which is quite narrow. It splits after a little bit, so follow the road up, past Guardian Peak, towards Uva Mira. An even narrower road turns off that, and winds upwards.

 

 

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entrance

name

vines

Some of their vines

Idiom and Da Capo Vineyards on Knorhoek Estate, Knorhoek Road, Sir Loury’s Pass (also spelled Lowry’s).

This is one of the wine estates in the western Cape that we have not visited before and it makes us realize how much more there is to explore. A family member who lives in nearby Somerset West knew it and suggested we go there for lunch. We’re very happy that we did, as it’s a lovely place.

The Da Capo Vineyards recently opened (in 2016) a charming new wine tasting center and restaurant high on the Helderberg, with truly jaw-dropping views. It took three years to complete and co-owner Roberto Bottega (a son) hopes it will help promote their wine brand to the next level. Italian grape varieties make up many of their wines as their heritage is Italian, and the menu is largely Italian-themed to complement this.

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The restaurant and wine tasting bar are on the upper level, when we see the building from the front lawn

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We pass a duck farm on the way up the hill

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View down to the sea

There’s a tasting bar and restaurant, which is open for lunch and special events. You drive into the small town of Sir Loury’s Pass and look for the sign for Idiom, the fairly steep road leading up the hill on the left. It’s a bumpy drive past horses, ducks and sheep. Then you reach the parking lots, walk up to the buildings of Idiom and… WOW! The view is stunning and unexpected after the drive up—mountains, valley, rolling hills, vines, trees, large rocks, pretty gardens.

The huge modern building is really well placed, overlooking the valley and the mountains and down to the sea (False Bay). When you first arrive at the entrance from the parking lot you don’t realize that it’s actually on two levels, as it’s built on a slope. The tasting room and restaurant are on the top level, but we only realized that when we saw the that it’s built out over the slope. It’s surrounded by luscious green lawns, a small garden with indigenous plants, and lots of big rocks. On the edge of the lawn is a wonderful statue of a naked man with arms stretched above his head, as though he’s calling on the gods or praising the view or ? (more on that later).

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Entrance to Idiom

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Steps lead down to the gardens and large front lawn

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The statue is perfectly placed

lunchYou sit upstairs and if you’re lucky (or have booked, which is recommended as it’s become very popular) you’ll get a window table on one of the two sides looking out, or on the outdoor terraced area. We didn’t, but it was still fine. The large room is open and light with huge windows, tables nicely set, and interesting art pieces dotted around.

 

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One of the art pieces

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And another, in the tasting bar

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Antipasto plate

We (four people) had an antipasto plate, which arrived with a basket of delicious homemade bread, and shared two pizzas: one had ostrich carpaccio and prickly pear chutney, called Cape pizza; the other had zucchini, feta and white anchovy, called Sicilia pizza. I’m not normally a pizza fan, but these really were very good and the ostrich one had those South African inspired toppings. We had a bottle of their Bianco wine (made with Pinot Grigio grapes), which was pleasant, and bought a Viognier to take home, which was very good. Our waitress was very friendly and helpful, as were the other wait staff that we spoke to.

 

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Ostrich carpaccio pizza

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Sicilia pizza

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View out of Idiom. Note the interesting figures

Bit of background

We asked our waitress why the name “Idiom” and she told us it meant “new beginning”. That didn’t seem right to us, so we checked on  the Idiom website.

Da Capo (the name of the vineyards) means “from the beginning” or “from the Cape” in Italian, referring to the fact that the vineyards were laid out and planted on the farm for the first time in 1999. It was started by Alberto Bottega and his family. Alberto was born in Italy and moved with his family to Cape town in 1950 as a boy. He had a career in scientific research and finance but fulfilled his retirement dream of wine farming when he moved back to the Cape in 1998. Da Capo vineyards now has one of the largest selections of Italian varietals in South Africa that reflect the Bottega family’s heritage. The 18 different varietals are harvested at the farm at optimal ripeness, then sorted by hand, offering a direct comparison between the famous wines of Bordeaux and the Rhone, Tuscany and Piedmont, but from Cape terroir.

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More of their vines—looks like a rocky vineyard!

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Our lunch wine

They are now also selling perfumes, and leather goods—an idea inspired by daughter Silvana Bottega, who has experience in the luxury sector.

http://idiom.co.za

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View to the Helderberg Mountains

View to the Helderberg Mountains

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASouth Africa: Lourensford Wine Estate, nicknamed “Jewel of the Cape Winelands”

Open daily

http://www.lourensford.co.za

Founded in 1700, this lovely estate lies in the fertile bowl of the Helderberg Mountains on the outskirts of the town of Somerset West (but is listed under the Stellenbosch wine route). It was once part of Adriaan van der Stel’s Vergelegen Estate nearby, so it’s steeped in history and heritage but has also espoused ultra-modern wine technology.

It’s another lovely estate with extensive, beautifully-tended gardens, all with the backdrop of mountains. So gorgeously “Cape”—in fact, I’ve almost never seen other wine areas anywhere else in the world that look quite as lovely as this. Some are more dramatic (Switzerland), others vaster (France). Maybe it’s the combination of setting and the Cape-Dutch architecture—green nature and white buildings. Whatever it is, it’s beautiful and a great place to relax, soak in the outdoors, and enjoy world-class wines.

The old slave bell, from the days of the Cape Dutch traders

The old slave bell, from the days of the Cape Dutch traders

The Coffee Roasting Company

The Coffee Roasting Company

Lourensford is a very large estate that offers a lot for the visitor. There’s the Tasting Room with a mini cellar tour, plus the Millhouse Restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating, a shop, a pottery shop, an art gallery and a coffee roasting company, which is a whole other tasting experience. Plus, there are trails and walks through the vines and up into the foothills—in addition to rambling the Estate’s own gardens and emerald green lawns. They also cater for events—our nephew got married here and said the Estate people were pleasant to deal with.

Well worth a visit and we suggest you allocate many hours, as each part of the visit is very leisurely—don’t try to be in a rush.

They take their coffee tasting seriously!

They take their coffee tasting seriously!

coffeesign

Our multi-generational group enjoying coffee

Our multi-generational group enjoying coffee

Besides wine tasting, and eating in the restaurant (see an upcoming post), you should definitely visit the Coffee Roasting Company, open daily 9-5. They roast on site, giving the room that warm, smokey aroma of ground coffee. It sells coffee to go as well as being a small café, with some pastries, and a few gift items, like teas, coffees, chocolates, preserves, a few souvenirs, and lovely series of kids’ books called “In the Land of Kachoo”, about African animals. Many local people come here just for the coffee, to buy bags of coffee specially roasted to go, or to sip and savor coffee in the sun under a vine trellis or other fruit trees. That’s what we did late March, and it was a lovely outing for our multi-generational group.

The Art Gallery close to the Coffee Roasting Company is called Aleit & Is Art (the Aleit Hospitality Group makes a local beer on the premises—ABRU—which they sell at the Lourensford Market on Sundays).

The headless statue you see here is #3 (see below)

The headless statue you see here is #3 (see below)

Horse

Horse

In March the Gallery was hosting a special exhibition of outdoor sculptures, set up on the immaculate lawns. After enjoying our coffee we had fun walking around in the sun, identifying what the large outdoor figures were. They were all for sale, so maybe by now some lucky person can enjoy them at home or in another setting. The US $ and South Africa Rand exchange rate is roughly US$1=R11

Horse: “Let Loose”, by Florian Junge, R290,000 (roughly a bit less than $2900)

#1

#1

Number 1: “Indigenous”, by Marieke Prinsloo, cement, R76,900

#2

#2

Number 2: “Going and Staying”, by Pieter Robbetze, resin, R17,000

Number 3: I have called you by name, by Marieke Prinsloo, resin, R47,900

#4

#4

Number 4: “Elevation”, by Andre Stead, resin, R54,000

#4

#4

#5

#5

Number 5: “I want to be free”, by Uwe Pfaff, powder coated steel, R18,000

#5

#5

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