Ten things to do this summer

With the summer holidays and festive season upon us, the Cape Winelands opens her arms to offer much-needed rest and relaxation. To make the most of longer and warmer days, we bring you some of our all-time favourite spots for enjoying a drink with a view.

#1: Sophisticated charm

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Luxurious, serene, unpretentious and dreamy are but a few ways to describe Asara Wine Estate & Hotel, situated on Stellenbosch’s winding Polkadraai Road. Here, fine dining, high-quality wines representing a variety of cultivars, and breathtaking views set the scene for guests to ‘just be’, as the estate so eloquently puts it. At Asara’s sophisticated and stylish Sansibar awaits a selection of whiskies, cognacs, gins, cocktails (including non-alcoholic options) and, of course, wine. During the summer months, Sansibar’s inviting terrace fills up with locals and visitors from near and far to soak up the sun and experience the very essence of Asara: a little piece of Cape Winelands heaven. Acquired by the Rahmann family in 2001, the estate’s legacy dates back to 1691. “To mark the transition in 2001, we changed the name to Asara in honour of the North African gods of the earth, sun and sky – Astar, Asis, Asase – and to symbolise the balance and harmony of nature reflected in our wines.”

Good to know: Sansibar is open from Monday to Sunday between 11:00 and 22:00. For more information, call 021 888 8000 or send an email to reception@asara.co.za.

#2: Definitive luxury

Undoubtedly one of South Africa’s most elegant and prestigious wineries, Delaire Graff Estate encapsulates an oasis of wine, art, cuisine and natural splendour. Sitting atop Stellenbosch’s Helshoogte Pass, the estate’s Wine Lounge dazzles with spellbinding views across to the Simonsberg, fine decor, impressive architecture and notable art by Ndikhumbule Ngqinambi, Kendell Geers, Deborah Bell, William Kentridge, André Stead, Sydney Kumalo, Hank Willis Thomas, Nicolas Moreton and Fred Schimmel. Note to self: be sure to spot the original Vladimir Tretchikoff as you enter the estate’s reception hall. Says the man himself, Laurence Graff: “[At this] hidden paradise in Stellenbosch nestled between majestic mountains, I invite you to discover the many facets of Delaire Graff that bring me so much joy each time I visit.” Also explore Graff’s collection of fine jewellery and watches as well as luxurious linen clothing by Italian brand 100% Capri; shop for traditional and contemporary African art at Africa Nova; and view Laurence Graff’s personal collection of outdoor sculptures by Anton Smit, Lionel Smit and Dylan Lewis, among others.

Good to know: Sit down for a range of wine-tasting options from 10:00 to 17:00, Mondays to Saturdays, or 10:00 to 16:30 on Sundays. Tastings start at R75 per person. Call 021 885 8160 for more information.

#3: Starry, starry night

This summer, one of the Cape’s best-loved wine farms comes alive when Boschendal’s popular Friday Night Market, accompanied by live music entertainment, takes centre stage. Where better to mingle than at one of the Western Cape’s oldest wine farms, while enjoying some of the farm’s award-winning produce and surrounded by the beauty of the Winelands? Boschendal’s scenery never disappoints: think mountain views, rolling lawns and inviting gardens. Spend balmy summer evenings browsing the market’s stalls for fresh farm produce, tasty bites and handmade artisanal local products – all this under a canopy of stars. The market, set up across The Werf, is open every Friday from 17:00 to 20:30 and entrance is free. Did you know that Boschendal is dog-friendly? As Boschendal is a working farm with free-roaming animals, be sure to keep your four-footed companion on a lead at all times.

Good to know: Boschendal also offers exhilarating Friday night swims at York Dam, one of the farm’s natural dams. Swimmers meet at Gate 20 (Lanquedoc Gate) at 17:00 for the safety briefing before the swim starts at 17:30. R60 per person. Call 073 052 3770 for
more information.

#4: More than just gin

The interior of Plaisir Wine & Gin Lounge takes you on an eclectic sensory journey before you even taste the award-winning wines and The Tempest Gin from Plaisir Wine Estate. Located at 6 Bird Street in central Stellenbosch, the lounge invites guests to indulge their senses with a Plaisir Wine & Tapas Pairing that features some of the estate’s finest wines and locally produced tapas-style dishes. According to Plaisir’s Kobie Lochner, these pairings are constantly evolving to incorporate locally sourced produce. “Take advantage of this piece of mystery and culinary satisfaction. Think teriyaki meatballs with Plaisir Cabernet Sauvignon, chicken bites with Plaisir Chardonnay, and much more.” The Tempest Gin embodies the dramatic nature of the Cape of Storms and the abundance of the region’s rich floral kingdom. “Because it is the only seasonal fynbos-infused gin, it is produced in a small batch each season. The fynbos varies from one season to the next, so each season’s batch varies in texture, aroma and essence. These changes captured in the bottle are the reason for each season of The Tempest Gin being different and unique,” says Kobie.

Good to know: Do try Plaisir’s signature cocktail, The French 75, featuring The Tempest Gin, Plaisir Grand Brut and a splash of lemon. Plaisir Wine & Gin Lounge is open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 13:00 to 22:00. Call 066 049 9791 for more information.

#5: A Stellenbosch sunset

Guardian Peak’s recently launched summer menu by chef Willie Mostert keeps dining seasonal with a selection of light and bright dishes. With wine pairing in mind, crisp Sauvignon Blanc accompanies seafood, and a fruity Merlot with the restaurant’s steak salad promises a stellar combination. This summer, diners can sit down for lunch daily between 12:00 and 15:30 or dinner on Tuesdays to Saturdays between 18:00 and 22:00. Picture long summer evenings with family and friends, relaxing sundowners, delectable wines and scrumptious food while the African sun paints Stellenbosch’s mountains in red and pink hues. Wine tastings are available seven days a week from 9:00 to 17:00 and among the large variety of wines on offer are the full Guardian Peak range and brands from the Stellenbosch Collection, including Afrikaans, Cirrus, Donkiesbaai and Stellenbosch Reserve. Tastings are hosted on the deck or in the tasting room, with cheese platters available at R170.

Good to know: For dinner or lunch bookings, call 021 881 3899 or send an email to info@guardianpeak.com.

#6: Steeped in history

Nestled at the foot of the Tygerberg Hills with views spanning Table Mountain and the Atlantic Ocean, De Grendel Wines’ family lineage is as impressive as its landscape. First Baronet Sir David Pieter de Villiers Graaff, mayor of Cape Town, cabinet minister, high commissioner to the UK, delegate to the Treaty of Versailles and businessman, bought De Grendel in 1891 to stable his prized Arab horses. Today, De Grendel’s success rests in the hands of Fourth Baronet Sir De Villiers Graaff. From De Grendel’s Tasting Lounge and Stoep, a long, glass-encased veranda, guests can enjoy views of Table Mountain and the Mother City while sipping on some of the best wines in the Cape. De Grendel recently earned five stars in the 2022 Platter’s South African Wine Guide for four of its wines: De Grendel Elim Shiraz 2019, Op Die Berg Syrah 2019, Sir David Graaff 1st Baronet of Cape Town 2017 and De Grendel Rubaiyat 2018.

Good to know: Wine tasting is open from 09:00 to 17:00 on Mondays to Saturdays and 10:00 to 16:00 on Sundays and public holidays. Booking is essential; send an email to tasting@degrendel.co.za or call 021 558 6280.

#7: A new day at Waterkloof

When one (restaurant) door closes, another one opens… Not long after acclaimed South African chef Bertus Basson announced the end of Overture, he unveiled his latest venture. In October 2022, Bertus’s brand-new brainchild, Chorus, opened its doors at the picturesque Waterkloof Wine Estate, perched on the slopes of the Schapenberg overlooking False Bay. “When visiting Chorus, you’ll see some of the faces you came to know at Overture, with Shaun and Albert heading up the front of house with their team,” said Bertus. “Chorus will serve a seasonal four- and six-course menu and, naturally, the soufflé will make an appearance. Ours is simple, focused, seasonal cooking, the menu being dictated by ingredients. The wine list will celebrate Waterkloof wines, as well as wines from other South African producers.” Waterkloof’s gravitational cellar, tasting room and restaurant combine the art of sublime dining with awe-inspiring architecture.

Good to know: Chorus is open for lunch from Tuesdays to Sundays and for dinner from Thursdays to Saturdays.

#8: Life’s a picnic

Warwick Estate’s famous picnics have become synonymous with summer in the Winelands. Put together by executive chef Nick van Wyk, the lavish baskets may be sampled on Warwick’s picnic lawn or benches, or in one of several private pods. All picnic menu items are made and prepared at the estate. Complement your picnic basket with one of Warwick’s indulgent wines. Start with the celebratory First Lady MCC Brut Rosé and make it an occasion with some of their iconic wines such as the flagship Trilogy and Old Vine Chenin Blanc. In case you haven’t noticed, Warwick is all about family. It’s the perfect place for outdoor fun in the sun for kids of all ages.

Good to know: Order a double picnic basket at R595 or the single option at R320. For youngsters aged 10 and younger, the picnic menu costs R150. Vegan and vegetarian options available for both adults and children. Booking is essential.

#9: Heavenly gardens

Revamped in 2016, Vergelegen’s principal rose garden saw a horticultural undertaking of unimaginable proportions that required 1,200 tons of soil, 90 tons of peach pips and 40 tons of compost. The extensive collection of blooms, many specially chosen for their glorious scent as well as beautiful appearance, ranges from miniature roses to rambling climbers, heritage blooms and newly bred hybrids. The rose garden has been designed in Vergelegen’s trademark octagonal shape, with a colour palette that transitions from reds, oranges and yellows to white, and from purples, deep and light pinks to white. A central water feature sports a frolicking dolphin surrounded by roses. The smaller David Austin Rose Garden is planted with more than 300 fragrant roses. Make the most of your time at Vergelegen’s immaculate gardens with a glass of the estate’s Florence Rosé 2022 – a celebration of summer in a glass.

Good to know: Vergelegen’s horticultural paradise includes its Octagonal Garden, Reflection Garden, Sundial Garden, Bamboo Garden, East Garden, Agapanthus Garden, Camellia Garden of Excellence, Wetlands Garden, Fynbos Garden, Hydrangea Garden, Yellowwood Walk, Maple Garden, Oak Arboretum and Camphor Forest. A new arboretum is being planted, its entrance marked by two saplings grown from seeds of a 300-year-old ginkgo tree that survived the 1945 Hiroshima bombing in Japan. For daily garden tours, call 021 847 2122.

#10: Safari-style tasting

With panoramic views of Stellenbosch Kloof and mountains, Jordan Wine Estate specialises in classic wine varieties best suited to the region’s different soils and slopes. Owners Gary and Kathy Jordan spearhead winemaking on this now 164ha Stellenbosch property with one goal in mind: crafting fiercely individual wines that combine the New World’s fruity accessibility and the Old World’s classic elegance. At Jordan, wine tasting takes on an exciting twist with a 360˚ Vineyard Tasting Experience – enjoyed in an open safari-style game-viewing Land Rover. Cue spectacular scenery of False Bay, Table Bay and Table Mountain, coupled with an exploration of the flora of the Cape Winelands. The vineyard experience includes a tour of the estate’s terroir and geology, plus a cellar tour while tasting a selection of award-winning Jordan wines.

Good to know: The 360˚ Vineyard Tasting Experience can be booked at R625 per person (maximum 10 guests) and lasts one-and-a-half to two hours. Private Evening Wine Drives cost R6,000 per group (maximum eight guests) and last some two hours. Pre-booking is required.