A cornucopia of Cape winelands luxury and hospitality.
In 1685, the Dutch East India Company granted Huguenot Jean le Long a vast swath of land, sandwiched between the winelands towns of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. Today, 335 years later, Boschendal boasts a cornucopia of attractions, from nourishing farm-to-table food, picnics under ancient oaks, and wine tasting in historic manor houses, to farm tours, resplendent gardens, luxury accommodations, and outdoor activities like hiking, horse-riding, and mountain biking. To do justice to them all in the written word would require a Tolstoy-length novel. But, alas, we don’t have that luxury. So, in abbreviation, let’s journey through Bos-en-dal, the land of “wood and valley”, to discover its myriad treasures.
From field to fork
The Cape carries a lofty, worldwide reputation for its wine. And scattered throughout its sublimely beautiful countryside are scores of wine estates, many of which are centuries old. But what sets Boschendal apart from many of its historic counterparts—where the greatest flurry of activity is restricted to harvest—is this estate’s sustained level of intense, year-round industry. For you see, Boschendal is not merely a wine estate. It is a complete farming ecosystem that produces almost every ingredient on its restaurants’ menus, from the micro-herbs in your garden salad to the succulent Angus beefsteak on your plate.
This brings me to one of the estate’s most alluring features: the Werf food garden. For anyone who loves cooking with fresh produce, there is scarcely a more enchanting place on Earth than this, where a kaleidoscopic array of herbs, vegetables, greens, and fruit burst forth from the rich, dark soils. Visitors are encouraged to wander around and admire the bounty before sitting down for a farm-to-fork feast in the Werf Restaurant (formal), the Boschendal Deli (informal), or a picnic on the emerald lawns.
Further a-field (literally), Boschendal maintains free-range populations of grass-fed cattle, chickens, forest-dwelling pigs, goats, and a trusty flock of ducks whose job it is to keep the gardens pest-free. And as you explore the atmospheric grounds of this historic estate, you can hear the distant, bucolic melodies of all these animals.
Ah, and now for the reason most people come to Boschendal (only to discover to their unbridled delight the variety of additional attractions) …wine. Now, most wineries release no more than a dozen wines. Boschendal, however, delivers such a staggering diversity, I wouldn’t know where to start and definitely wouldn’t know where to end: probably in the Werf food garden’s sluice if I were allowed to try them all.
Perhaps the best known and accessible of these wines are their collection of Méthode Cap Classique’s and the 1685 range of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz, and Shiraz Mourvèdre. However, I urge you to sample the estate’s showier wines, such as the Boschendal Nicolas (red blend), the Grande Syrah, and the Elgin Sauvignon Blanc. Paired with the beguiling ambience of the Manor House, the shaded lawns outside The Werf Restaurant, or the verdant surrounds of the Rhone Homestead, it is an experience marked by sheer perfection.
And for parents who want to enjoy their wine tasting in tranquillity, the Tree House Playground is the place to deposit the kids. Boschendal has also just launched an outdoor kids experience (for in-house guests) that takes them around the farm to learn about this natural, fertile valley’s ecosystem and meet the farm’s many four-legged (and web-footed) residents.
When you need to work off the wine…
For visitors, there are just as many activities at Boschendal that burn calories as those that involve the copious consumption of them. The farm and its surrounding fynbos and orchard-clad slopes are crisscrossed with a network of well-tended-to trails for walking, hiking, and mountain biking. There are even horse rides available that take guests through Boschendal’s jigsaw puzzle of truly spectacular landscapes, both farmed and indigenous. (600 Species of fynbos thrive here!)
On this subject: the WWF has awarded Boschendal Biodiversity Conservation Champion status for its efforts to preserve this precious indigenous flora. Additionally, through the estate’s many endeavours—from farming, winemaking, hospitality, and service—Boschendal provides permanent employment to hundreds of locals, many of whom have served and lived on the farm for several generations.
And if, after all the indulgence—the food, the wine, the endless meandering—you wish to lay your wine-steeped head on an 800-thread-count pillow, Boschendal offers a handsome suite of accommodations. There’s an array of luxuriously appointed hotel suites and restored farm cottages to choose from, as well as the Mountain Villa, Bertha’s Retreat, and, for a slightly more unique though no less luxurious experience, the tented camp. This boasts seven beautifully furnished and fully serviced tents located on the fynbos-carpeted slopes of the Simonsberg Mountain, overlooking the Cape winelands. Heaven!
Unending treasures to discover
Despite my best efforts, I have undoubtedly omitted one or several of Boschendal’s attractions. But, in fairness, one might visit this estate every day for a month and still discover new treasures to explore, experiences to be revelled in, and mouth-watering feasts to be devoured. Such is the rich and bountiful offering at this, one of the Cape’s oldest and most beautiful estates.
Boschendal has recently opened their brand new Farm Shop & Butchery. On display and for purchase is a selection of farm produce and artisan products from local suppliers, including home baked goods, décor and kitchenware, and wine.
Trading hours: Mon – Sat | 09:00 – 19:00 | Sun: 09:00 – 16:00
For more information, visit www.boschendal.com