Posts Tagged ‘wine estates in South Africa’



How’s that for a view!

Rustenberg—Gardens, a Labyrinth, and Wines

A Stunning Combo

Tranquil, beautiful, lush, green, pastoral are words that sprung to mind as we drove up, past pastures with cattle, small estate houses, and vineyards.

Rustenberg is a lovely wine estate in a really gorgeous setting up on a hill, overlooking vineyards, in the valley of the Simonsberg Mountains. It’s literally at the end of the road on one of the wine-route roads north out of Stellenbosch, but is well worth the drive.


Gorgeous Cape-Dutch architecture


Schoongezicht, the old Cape-Dutch homestead


Part of the gardens

What do we find?—lots of pretty, white gabled Cape-Dutch buildings; an impressive, modern tasting room; and lovely gardens ringed with huge oak trees. The gardens have small ponds, a gazebo, flower beds, and the jewel—a labyrinth.

Founded in 1682, the estate has a long history and heritage. The Barlow family has owned it since 1941, and various generations have been very involved in all aspects of wine making there. (The Barlow family had made a fortune with an engineering supplies company established in the early 1900s, also buying and selling woolen goods and Caterpillar machinery, among other things. The company expanded into neighboring southern African countries too. The family had also owned Vergelegen Estate in Somerset West from 1941-1987, so were very involved with wine estates).


pergola2The public Schoongezicht Garden, open every day, is next to the Cape Dutch homestead, Schoongezicht, which dates back to 1814. In 2001, Rozanne Barlow, wife of the current owner of Rustenberg Estate, decided to regenerate and restore the garden. She had walls constructed, and converted the 25-meter-long swimming pool into a lily pond, now home to many fish. The charming pergola, originally built by John X Merriman, is covered in climbing roses, clematis and other fragrant climbers. John X Merriman was a former owner of Rustenberg. He bought it in 1892 and helped to revitalize the estate and to promote tourism in this valley. One range of Rustenberg wines is called John X Merriman, in his honor.

The garden is essentially laid out in a formal style with four different areas linked by pathways, and because it’s so harmoniously done one doesn’t really realize that the garden is quite sizable—about a hectare. The garden is a plant-lover’s dream, best described as “English”, with roses, foxgloves, salvias, agapanthus, sedum, anemones, day lilies and many more. There is always something to catch the eye, no matter the season.


A labyrinth is now part of the gardens

The surrounding landscape of vineyards, green pastures and the majestic Simonsberg labyrinthclosermountain backdrop all help to make this garden a magical place.

The garden is open to the public during the week from 09h30 – 16h30 and on Saturdays and Sundays until 15h00.

There’s also a private garden, the Rustenberg Garden, which is open once a year to the public on Rustenberg Day.

Making these gardens even more magical is the labyrinth.




Outside the Tasting Room

As part of the garden make-over, Rozanne Barlow transformed the site where the old tennis court stood into an eleven-circuit Chartres-style labyrinth, laid out in half brick and river stone. Information boards explain the origin and symbolism of the French Chartres labyrinth. We walked a part of it and it is a contemplative experience. If we had more time (and no demanding kids!) it would be nice to try walking the whole thing.

After that it was fun to wander up to the tasting center to do wine tasting, which was great. The Tasting Room is in the old horse stables, which have been beautifully converted architecturally. We all thought it was a great wine-tasting experience. Our hostess lady was friendly and knowledgeable and we enjoyed chatting to her. The wines are world-class, from an excellent terroir—red clay-rich granite soils on a variety of slopes and elevations. No food is available here though.


Tasting great Rustenberg wines



An excellent rose wine

Wine tasting is R40 per person (waived if you buy some bottles). We did buy a bottle of Petit Verdot Rose (R75) to take back for dinner that night, and it was excellent. We also ordered some wines to be shipped back to USA, and you can also order them to be shipped to UK, I believe.

Wine Tasting and Sales open Mon-Fri 9-4:30, Sat 10-4 and Sunday 10-3. Every day, except Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and Good Friday.

Where is it?

Lelie Road, Idas Valley, just north-east of Stellenbosch


An unusual Rousanne wine



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Entrance to the cellar


Wine tasting

Tasting and Eating at Lourensford Wine Estate is a Gourmet Experience

You can’t go wrong here

As I mentioned in the previous post, this is a lovely wine estate in so many ways; it’s easy to get to, has gorgeous views of the mountains, lovely white Cape-Dutch buildings, excellent wines and wine tasting, a snack shop, a very nice restaurant, a coffee shop and a weekend market.


Lunch out on the patio


The River Garden wine at lunch

Last year we did the wine tasting at Lourensford and then had lunch at their Millhouse Kitchen Restaurant, when we could sit outside, as it was warm and sunny. This year, we didn’t do the wine tasting because we had young children with us, who were clamoring for lunch! The Millhouse Kitchen Restaurant was great again, but we sat inside, as it was June (their winter) and the wind was a bit chilly.

The estate offers Wine Tasting and Wine Sales daily (except Christmas Day and Easter Friday) 9am-5pm. Winery Tours are by appointment only. You can taste at a counter in the Tasting Room in the cellar building complex or sit on the thick green lawns outside in the shade, next to the small water fountains. We opted for outside, and the young man was very happy to carry out the wines to a picnic bench for our party of 4.


Enjoying wine tasting

I have to say that this was one of our most enjoyable wine tastings last year. For R40 per person, you can taste any 5 wines (that fee is waived with a wine purchase). We compared 2 sauvignon blancs, and tasted a viognier and 2 reds (a shiraz and a cab/merlot blend). The young guy was knowledgeable about the wines and the harvests and explained in detail, and the setting was/is superb. The wines are also excellent. He brought the wines out in the order we marked on our tasting sheets, changed glasses for the reds, and gave us two glasses to compare the sauvignon blancs. All very nice.



2RARunchThe Millhouse Kitchen is run by chef Bjorn Guido, whose aim is “to create a neighbourhood feel where his guests can relax and enjoy each other’s company in the beautiful setting of the Lourensford Wine Estate.” I’d say that he succeeds admirably, as the ambience and décor are great, and the servers are all so friendly and relaxed that you do feel at home. The menu is inspired by French and Italian rustic cooking, with an emphasis on fresh pasta, bread and wood-fired pizzas.

Last year for lunch, Rod had a biltong pizza, with biltong, brie and preserved figs, which he pronounced amazing. So this year, he and Kev were hoping for that again, but sadly it wasn’t on the menu!



2bigburger2platterWe tested the antipasti plank, the burger (huge) and a number of pizzas (all delicious). I had spinach, olives and sun-dried tomatoes pizza, and Joanna one with roasted butternut, but that one is not always on the menu, as it’s seasonal.

The house wines are the Lourensford River Garden range, which are very good too. A bottle of sauvignon blanc in the restaurant was R125 (at the exchange rate at the time, that was about US$8.50!). The same bottle to buy in the Tasting Room was R65 (about US$4.50!)2pizza

The Millhouse Restaurant is closed Mondays. Tues-Sat, Breakfast 8:30-10:30am; lunch 12 noon-3 pm; dinner 6:30pm-10pm. Sundays open 8:30-5pm (orders close at 3pm) A “light bites” menu is available for those in between hours.


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