A Weekend in the Winelands

For GRETELI DE SWARDT and her family, weekends are their time for slowing down and resetting. A recent visit to the Stellenbosch Winelands achieved that perfectly.

The anticipation of a weekend adventure was palpable as we drove out of the city on the Friday and left behind us the bustle of our everyday life. Ahead lay an increasingly pretty drive and, at its end, a serene haven in the form of Vredenheim Wine Farm, set among rolling hills and lush vineyards.

Communing with Nature

As we arrived we were greeted by the warm smiles of the Vredenheim team and I immediately felt a sense of calm.

The rustic charm of the farm combined with the promise of nature’s tranquillity set the stage for an unforgettable experience. Its highlight was, without a doubt, the feeding session with the big cats.

Watching our 10-month-old daughter’s eyes light up with wonder at the sight of lions, tigers and a majestic black leopard was pure magic. This is an encounter neither young nor old will ever forget; the raw beauty and power of these animals left an indelible mark on our hearts, deepening our appreciation for the natural world.

But that was just the beginning. Having witnessed the feeding session, we made our way to the game-viewing truck and embarked on a drive that revealed a new marvel of nature at every turn: zebras grazing peacefully, eland standing elegant and tall, and antelope ambling through the landscape.

It was a symphony of sights and sounds that resonated with the explorer in me and brought immense joy to our little one. Accompanying us on the vehicle were tourists from all over the world and between sightings we enjoyed learning about their countries while sipping the farm’s exquisite wine. What a highlight!

Our Vredenheim visit concluded with a delightful picnic provided by Hudson’s. We feasted on artisanal treats, their flavours enhanced by the fresh air and treasured company. Laughter and stories wove a tapestry of memories that will remain with us for a long time. The farm proved to be a perfect retreat from city life.

Eikendal’s Oasis

Our journey then led us to Eikendal, a landmark on the scenic R44 that, despite its proximity to the road, exudes a sense of seclusion. The friendly staff welcomed us with open arms, their warmth extending to thoughtful gestures like baby-proofing our room to ensure a comfortable and worry-free stay for my husband and me.

We took a stroll through the vineyards and made our way to the tasting room, eager to try Eikendal’s wines. What set this tasting apart was its child-friendly ambience, complete with milkshake pairings for our daughter – another thoughtful touch that added a layer of enjoyment to our experience and again made us feel welcome.

Anyone with children will know what a nightmare a wine tasting can be with youngsters in tow. Eikendal gave us the opportunity to taste without stress and made the afternoon a pleasant experience for all three of us. And the wines were outstanding!

As the day turned to dusk, we found ourselves drawn to the beautiful water feature near Cucina di Giovanni, where we savoured a romantic dinner by the dam.

The mood was nothing short of magical – soft lights dancing on the water, nature’s melody in the background and the aroma of delicious food. We were impressed by the service too; receiving your meal without a long wait is an important factor when you’re dining with young children!

There was even a play area to keep our daughter entertained, ensuring a memorable evening for the entire family.

Retiring to our room after a beautiful day, we were lulled to sleep by the gentle sounds of a rural night.

On a new day promising further exploration and relaxation, we enjoyed a coffee on our patio as we watched the sunrise casting the vineyards in a golden hue. After a buffet breakfast we wandered Eikendal’s grounds, soaking up the simple joy of an escape from the demands of daily life.

To venture further afield, we boarded a tractor-drawn trailer and while my husband and I learned more about the farm’s history and wines, our daughter was enthralled by the novel ride.

Our stay at Eikendal left us rejuvenated and inspired, promising a return in the near future. The peaceful ambience and genuine hospitality had won our hearts.

Picnic at Warwick’s Dam

To conclude our away-from-the-ordinary weekend, we made our way to Warwick to sample the delights of its picnic.

The setting next to a tranquil dam surpassed all expectations, and as we indulged in the gourmet feast – paired, of course, with exquisite wine from the farm – we felt so relaxed and contented that we lost all track of time.

Bonus points go to the venue for its child-friendly approach. There are water features for youngsters to play in, the dam is safely secured for parents’ peace of mind, and the menu offers options that kids will enjoy. The experience left us well rested and eager to share this gem with our friends.

As we made our way back home, our hearts were full and our minds well rested. The Winelands had woven their spell around us, leaving us enchanted and grateful for the memorable moments the weekend had given us. Thank you Stellenbosch! Until next time…