Hello Hazendal – A tale of a Russian in Stellenbosch

Hazendal’s flagship Avant-Garde Restaurant offers fine dining at its best, thanks to executive chef Michélle Theron’s artful platings of dishes inspired by traditional Russian recipes and South African culinary influences.

As a farm that borders a big city, Hazendal offers an uplifting outdoor meeting place for urban souls, its gently sloping werf lined by gracious Cape Dutch buildings that look out over the Bottelary vineyards and hills. The words ‘Anno 1781’ on the gable of Hazendal’s oldest building confirm the historical value of the farm, which had its humble beginnings in 1699 as the home of an early VOC official, Christoffel Hazenwinkel.

What sets Hazendal apart is that it is Russian owned and has been for 25 years. Its owner, international businessman, investor and philanthropist Dr Mark Voloshin, had long-standing ties with South Africa before he bought Hazendal in 1994. Today, he and his two daughters, Ina and Simone, and son-in-law, Shlomi, run the farm, having revamped and expanded its hospitality offering to make it an exceptional Winelands destination. 

Without doubt the most exotic Russian experience on the farm is the Russian Tea Garden, situated in a quiet corner of the werf. This fine traditional tea ceremony is served in the shade of oak trees and involves a grand offering of Russian bakes and specially imported black tea. Adorned with portraits and trinkets, the lavish tea stand displays authentic hand-painted Dulevo porcelain and shimmering brass samovars hung with baranki biscuits, which in the old country signified prosperity among the middle classes. The delicate serving of sweet and savoury (with vegetarian options on standby) includes fresh salmon-topped blini, a piroshok (beef-filled pastry) and a light summery Russian Olivier potato salad, balanced by delicious Russian sweet desserts guaranteed to please gourmet palates. 

Further Russian influence is evident in the Marvol Art Gallery housed in the farm’s historic Jonkershuis. Here rotating exhibitions of the owner’s private art collection are shown, along with works from upcoming and emerging Russian and African artists. Of note are rare religious icons from the Orthodox tradition and 150 artworks from Soviet Russia’s famed Grekov Studio (est. 1934), whose artists portrayed the Red Army at the battlefront and at home. For its artistic merit and historic role as propaganda, the studio has been hailed as one of the most important art movements to come out of Russia. 

This year Hazendal celebrated 320 years with a luxury coffee-table book that chronicles the history and highlights of the estate. Copies are available at the farm deli and showcase its development from wine farm to a multifaceted, world-class Winelands destination.

Apart from art, the farm offers an array of beautifully appointed venues, each unique in style and character. The revamped 19th-century wine cellar now houses the luxurious Wine Tasting Lounge, where Hazendal’s wines and MCC can be explored at leisure. In the adjacent Avant-Garde Restaurant, with its old-world grandeur, elaborately frescoed ceiling and glistening chandeliers, a fine-dining menu incorporating Russian and South African culinary influences keeps diners suitably enthralled.

But luxury and exclusivity are not the last words when visiting Hazendal. It’s also a family destination by design and offers a happy mix of activities that children can enjoy, like a ride in the MTB park or hours of play in the interactive Wonderdal play centre. They can also explore the boardwalks of the landscaped indigenous garden leading down to the natural wetlands below the werf. Vintage wagons are another attraction and as from next year, the farm will display eight vintage cars, among them a rare Rolls-Royce Phantom I dating to 1925; a limousine beloved by Queen Elizabeth; and the Riviera-style Rolls-Royce Corniche Convertible made even more glamorous by stars like David Bowie and Sir Paul McCartney.

Should these adventures cause hunger pangs, the stationary Wonder Truck food vendor sells well-priced takeaways like wraps, pita and falafel, pork bao and possibly the best bockwurst hot dogs in town.

For families and art lovers a walk in the gardens is rewarded with sculptures by award-winning South African artists. Look out for Strijdom van der Merwe’s outsized garden implements in the Harvest Garden and Guy du Toit’s trademark quirky hares – they pop up in the restrooms, too. Angus Taylor’s remarkable life-sized donkeys hewn from wire and stone are another highlight. Outside the deli a huge smiling babushka doll by acclaimed mosaic artist Jocelyn de Freitas beckons visitors inside its cosy Continental interior. Though prices compare favourably to any coffee shop in town, the menu delivers five-star breakfasts, light lunches, an array of Russian cakes and excellent barista coffee, making it a great place to meet in the Winelands. V

• Bottelary Road, Stellenbosch, 021 903 5034, www.hazendal.co.za



A highlight for children is the estate’s one-of-a-kind Wonderdal interactive edutainment centre, where children can learn through play. The centre takes a holistic approach to children’s education and play and combines advanced technology with creative space design to teach children about subjects from the natural science and life skills curriculum in an inter­active and fun format. Inside its colourful space, children enjoy a non-linear learning experience that ranges from reading in velvety cubicles to digital ‘cooking’ of healthy meals, to growing plants in a virtual garden or building electric circuit models. Or they cavort outside in the Wildlands playground, designed to develop gross motor skills, with a netted maze, a climbing wall and a big wobble balance sock as some of the activities. As for parents, they get to explore the estate and its many culinary offerings while trained estate staff, known as Wonderpals, keep a watchful eye.

Wine tasting lounge 

The elegant glass chamber above the bar in the Wine Tasting Lounge allows for private conversation and bespoke tasting sessions. Here the wines of Hazendal’s diverse Bottelary terroir can be explored while taking in the gracious atmosphere of the lounge below.


Russian tea ceremony 

The unique Russian Tea Ceremony is a loving reconstruction of the lavish tea parties enjoyed in Russia, now shared with visitors at the Cape. Lending authenticity are the brightly coloured, hand-painted Dulevo crockery imported from Russia and the exclusive Hazendal Tsar Tea Blend, specially sourced for the estate by tea merchant TWG. 

Babushka deli 

As a family gathering place, the Babushka Deli offers coffee shop fare and marvellous cakes and desserts, as well as high-end farm stall products and imported Russian souvenirs. Its cosy ambience is enhanced by dimly lit endpanels of painted glass that impart a subtle Russian and Continental feel. 

Avant-garde jazz evenings 

Once a month the Avant-Garde Restaurant transforms into an elegant jazz club, where lovers of jazz are treated to a wine tasting followed by tapas-styled zakuski plates to go with the show. Here, brother-trio the N2 Jazz Band lets off steam with guest singer Carmen Exclusive holding sway. Apart from local legends, the club has hosted international stars like saxophone sensation Chad Lefkowitz-Brown and Swedish guitarist Gustav Lundgren.   

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