A Leap into Summer

With elegantly refurbished accommodation and a host of new food and wine experiences, Laborie Heritage Wine Estate has become a must-visit destination in the Paarl Winelands.

It’s been more than 300 years since the historic werf at Laborie Heritage Wine Estate was first laid out, but a sensitive reinvention has established this historic Cape estate as one of the most exciting new destinations the Cape Winelands has to offer.

That infusion of new energy is perhaps most evident at Stoep, a restaurant that combines contemporary style and homely country hospitality. Here striking steel and glass walls create an all-weather indoor space while doors open wide to tables set in the deep shade of cork oaks. Even in the heat of summer, these are the best seats in the house, with views across the vineyards and the soothing soundtrack of leiwater flowing nearby.

It’s a relaxed space with a menu to match. Stoep focuses on elevated bistro-style cuisine, with generous portions and a menu catering for every palate. It begins with a selection of Nibbles and Small Plates and there’s a wonderful celebration of home-grown flavours on offer, from the chargrilled skaapstertjies to roosterkoek with creamed smoorsnoek. Larger bowls of homemade pasta run from spaghettoni to pasta shells, each served with a choice of sauces, but it’s in the mains that the kitchen shows its true colours. Classic country dishes are given a contemporary twist, and while the menu moves with the seasons, drawing heavily on local suppliers and seasonal produce, expect the likes of perfectly cooked pork belly with pickled cabbage kimchi, or beef fillet with a Shiraz-infused butter.

From Stoep a shaded avenue, lit with fairy lights come evening, leads diners towards Suzanne. Named for Suzanne Taillefert, a driving force behind the estate’s first foray into winemaking in the late 1600s, this all-day space has become a firm favourite with locals, who arrive in the morning for a coffee and catch-up or use it as a remote office for off-site meetings in elegant surrounds. A compact menu of small plates and wood-fired pizzas makes it just as popular for a light lunch with friends. As the sun dips behind Paarl Rock, coffee gives way to cocktails. Take a seat at the bar, or out on the terrace, and order up an Aperol Spritz – perhaps with a tapas or two – to toast the end of another glorious Winelands day. But don’t be surprised if you see locals hurrying by with shopping bags bulging.

At The Farm Grocer, you’ll find a delicious selection of fresh produce and handcrafted products from regional farmers, growers and artisans. The focus is on seasonal produce from the surrounding farmlands, whether it’s freshly picked vegetables or hand-harvested honey and olive oil offered on tap. The on-site butchery is run by the well-respected folks from The Boer & Butcher, while chefs from Stoep whip up the handmade pasta and pre-cooked meals in the freezer.

You’ll find all the flavour and care of a home-cooked dinner, without the hassle.

Throw in an enviable collection of wines from local and international cellars in the wine boutique and a fridge filled with global cheeses, and you’ll see just why The Farm Grocer has become the place in Paarl to do the weekly shop or stock up on gourmet treats for a special occasion.

In step with the ongoing rejuvenation of the estate is a reinvention of the farm’s accommodation. A sensitive refurbishment has infused the estate’s rooms and suites with a fresh aesthetic that appeals to a more contemporary sense of style while maintaining the integrity of the estate’s heritage architecture. And key to the appeal for local and international visitors is the diversity of accommodation on offer, from the opulent Villa suites to compact rooms in the original stable block, or the stylish Jonkershuis set alongside the vineyards. Here you’ll also find the gorgeous pool deck, with views across the vines to Paarl Mountain. It’s easily explored on the network of hiking, biking and running trails that lead right from the werf, with an on-site trails operator on hand to assist with maps, permits and rentals.

Whether you come for the food, wine or adventure, Laborie looks set to be the most exciting new (and old) address in the Cape Winelands this summer. V