All in a day’s work at Vergelegen

Covid-19 hit South Africa’s wine, hospitality and tourism sectors hard – to say the least. But despite many ghastly challenges, Vergelegen, 322 years old this year, is heading in only one direction – forward. During an unveiling of the estate’s future plans, one thing was crystal clear: managing director, Wayne Coetzer, is a man with a plan.

Backed by a motivated and passionate team, Vergelegen is in peak condition. According to Wayne, the estate is making great strides in its wine, environment and hospitality offerings.

Vergelegen managing director, Wayne Coetzer. Pictures supplied

First of its kind

In 2021, André van Rensburg, long-established estate winemaker, created Vergelegen’s very first Rosé. In the bottle, a rose-gold coloured wine with a long and dewy aftertaste. Named after Florence, Lady Phillips, owner of the estate from 1917-1941, Florence Rosé is both elegant and sophisticated. André will be retiring this year after 25 years at the realm of Vergelegen’s cellar.

Florence Rosé has sold out, but there’s plenty more to choose from. Visit Vergelegen’s online shop for more information.

Summer pop-up

Pop-up restaurant, River Café, proved a popular choice for visitors to the Cape Winelands in search of a natural setting accompanied by fresh, local ingredients. Still open for summer, River Café is housed in an elegantly decorated glass marquee on the banks of the Lourens River. Key dishes include fish and seafood such as whole-roasted trout, Saldanha Bay oysters, prawn cocktail, smoked Franschhoek trout and West Coast mussels.

Good to know: River Café is open for lunch on Wed-Sun (12:00-17:00 – kitchen closes at 15:30) and dinner on Fri-Sat (18:00-23:00 – kitchen closes at 20:00). Send an email to info@vergelegen.co.za, call +27 21 847 2111, or book online.

Watercourse rehabilitation

Vergelegen recently completed an extensive programme to rehabilitate eroded watercourses on five sites. This R12 million project required the removal, storage and replanting of 15,000 indigenous plants. Wins include the protection of rehabilitated wetlands and critically endangered Lourensford Alluvium Fynbos vegetation, and the elimination of possible sediment contamination of the Lourens River.

Beetle battles

Ever heard of the polyphagous shot hole borer beetle (PSHB)? These tiny creatures bore holes into tree trunks after introducing a fungus that weakens and often kills trees. Since the PSHB was discovered in South Africa in 2017, many a garden and forest fell prey to its devastation. At Vergelegen, an intensive three-year research project – with the help of Stellenbosch University – has produced valuable insights: researchers are better informed about the beetles’ seasonal distribution, chemical lures have been crucial in keeping beetle infestations at bay, and pesticide injections into selected trees have slowed down beetle infection rates.

A food garden for all

A food garden was launched in 2020, and in 2021, the first beneficiary was the Helderberg Hospital selflessly serving the community throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, the food garden has been expanded with the planting of numerous fruit trees. The garden is not only a source of food for Vergelegen’s chefs and farm residents, but also provides nutritious vegetables to a community night shelter in Somerset West. In total, four tons of produce from the estate’s food garden were distributed from November 2020 to March 2021.

And the winner is…

On the wine front, Vergelegen scooped two wins in this year’s Great Wine Capitals Best of Wine Tourism Awards – for its landscape and architecture, and sustainable wine tourism experiences. In September 2021, several members of Vergelegen’s farm staff were recognised in the Stellenbosch regional section of the Western Cape Prestige Agri Awards. The winners spanned the estate’s administration, cellar, vineyards, horticultural and maintenance departments, with Vergelegen also taking the win for Best Performing Estate. Former cellar supervisor, Gladys Jafta, now working in the wine tasting centre, was named both Forewoman of the Year and Agricultural Worker of the Year.

Cape Vintner Classification (CVC) Summer Soirée

Explore and discover distinguished CVC-accredited wines during a walkabout tasting of both current and specially selected older vintages from CVC member producers. Start the soirée with a complimentary glass of Vergelegen wine while admiring the estate’s breath-taking garden scenes. Mingle with renowned winemakers, and enjoy live jazz performances, gourmet cheeses and charcuterie boards.

When: Saturday 12 February 2022
Price: R395
Good to know: Doors open at 16:00 and strict Covid regulations apply. Limited tickets available. Click here to purchase tickets.

Food and celebrations

• Following the success of the 2021 winter pop-up Nguni Café and summer’s River Café, next in line is Cabernet Café. A menu of tasty casseroles and oxtail will be on offer hosted at a new location on the estate, complemented by cabernets and other estate wines.
• Vergelegen has taken the first steps towards establishing a dedicated wedding venue with the creation of a large dam, edged with decking. In due course, a wedding venue will be constructed.

Visit Vergelegen online for more information.