Autumn may be a time of rest in the vineyards of the Western Cape winelands, but BOSJES Estate is brimming with new energy as it reveals the next phase in its evolution, with a new high design pantry style coffee shop and farm shop set amid imaginatively landscaped indigenous gardens.
Situated in the scenic Breede River valley, just over an hour’s drive from Cape Town, BOSJES has grown in stature and acclaim since opening in March 2017.
“This latest expansion really establishes BOSJES as a leading destination in the Cape winelands,” explains Carlen Vorster, CEO of Hospitality & Marketing. “And, even more importantly, the expanded outdoor areas allow us to welcome day-visitors over the weekends; a time when the estate was often closed for private functions.”
Creating imaginative outdoor spaces was key to the design of the new gardens, and “we’ve really focused the expansion to attract families looking to spend time together outdoors,” adds Vorster. “It really is a perfect fit with the BOSJES philosophy of making people more aware of the beauty of nature.”
Within the new garden guests can enjoy two new visitor offerings on the estate, the BOSJES Spens and the BOSJES Winkel.
The Winkel is BOSJES’ contemporary interpretation of a country store, curated by acclaimed interior designer Liam Mooney who has filled the space with a covetable collection of bespoke wares, local crafts and upcycled décor.
“The Winkel is a wonderful curation of old and new, artisanal and unique,” explains Mooney. “It was important that we supported local craftsmen and suppliers as much as possible.”
That includes hand-woven scarves from Barrydale Weavers, vintage wooden toys from a local craftsman, and a range of custom-made puzzles, colouring books and crocheted soft toys that celebrate the wildlife of BOSJES estate.
“We also believe in re-use and repurposing,” adds Mooney, who sought out local antique stores to supply beautiful vintage ceramics.
FRESH BAKES AND COUNTRY FLAVOURS
A short walk through the gardens brings visitors to the Spens, which blends the best elements of a café, coffee shop and well-stocked country pantry.
On the shelves discover seasonal preserves using fruit from the valley – think pickled garlic, fig and almond jam, and onion marmalade – while glass displays are filled with breads, pastries and pâtisserie from talented pastry chef Rafieq Jacobs.
But it’s on the menu from Head Chef Kim Cox that the Spens shows its true colours, with an array of delicious dishes that’ll take care of hunger pangs from breakfast right through to lazy afternoon picnics.
With a firm focus on seasonal eating, the Spens menu is flexible enough for most plates to be enjoyed indoors, where the playful décor and long banquettes by Liam Mooney may tempt on wintry days, or out in the shade of the lemon groves amid the gardens.
Breakfast focuses on classic plates – French toast and caramelised banana, through to Eggs Benedict on potato rosti – while the pre-ordered Farm Platter boxes and On The Move menu is designed for families looking to enjoy a picnic in the gardens. Here generous sandwiches and inventive salads offer healthy grab-and-go options, alongside a mouth-watering range of freshly baked farm pies and quiches. All outdoor dining packaging is biodegradable, and includes eco-friendly bamboo cutlery.
For diners settling in at the Spens – no reservations, so arrive early – Cox’s well-priced lunch menu takes inspiration from both the estate’s own gardens and the seasonal bounty of the Breede River valley.
Fresh flavour-packed starters run from mango-sesame chicken salad and salmon croquettes, to the signature Bosjes Caesar Salad. Mains are bolder in flavour and plating, with the likes of Karoo lamb shoulder with potato and pea salad, or a delicious pork porchetta with apple and celery relish. There’s plenty of plant-based inspiration on offer too, including herby quinoa and harissa-roasted cauliflower, and a Mediterranean vegetable bowl with spicy tomato sauce. If that wasn’t enough to keep Cox busy there’s a dedicated Kiddies’ menu on offer, while Flatbread Friday dishes up piping-hot flatbreads with inspired toppings.
“My focus has always been on food that’s simply fresh and full of flavour,” says Cox. “Whether it’s a beautiful salad with leaves fresh from the gardens, or a delicious Wagyu burger on a rich brioche bun, it’s about approachable uncomplicated cooking that over-delivers on value and flavour every time.”
EMBRACED BY THE LANDSCAPE
The Spens and Winkel blend effortlessly into the new gardens and broader landscape, a testament to the creative collaboration between architect Coetzee Steyn, of Steyn Studio, and Square One Landscape Architects.
Meyer & Associates Architects were appointed to assist Coetzee Steyn and Square One Landscape Architects with the execution of the project, as project architects and principal agent.
While the ethereal wings of the BOSJES Kapel, also designed by Steyn, remain the architectural highlight of BOSJES Estate, the innovative design of the Winkel and Spens is a subtle celebration of the region’s rich cultural history.
“The two carefully burrowed buildings, drawing inspiration from the ways of the San as well as the early Dutch settlers who first inhabited the valley; are all in keeping with BOSJES’ design philosophy” explains Steyn.
“We worked closely with Square One to not only position the built structures in the landscape as curiosities, but also as anchors around which the landscape was eventually designed. The seamless integration of the landscaping elements with the built structures was an essential design objective from the start of the project.”
The landscaped gardens are spread across three sloping terraces, connected by a curving pathway that provides universal access while creating a visual link between the woodland landscape, forested play areas, spacious lawns and conservation garden planted with endangered renosterveld.
“The concept for the gardens was around incorporating ecology into the cultural landscape,” explains Mark Saint Põl, director of Square One Landscape Architects. “How do we tell the tale of cultural heritage, and the tradition of living off the land, and turn that into something accessible and enjoyable.”
Across the site there are visual cues that remind visitors of the cultural heritage of the valley. A series of water furrows and channels speak to the ingenuity of farmers in taming this drought-prone wilderness. The fragrant citrus groves in front of the Winkel and Spens are a reminder of the region’s rich agricultural tradition. Circular sandpits for children reference South Africa’s traditional farm dams and reservoirs, while in the dedicated children’s play area equipment includes kid-friendly farming implements, sandpits and splash-pads.
“Using stone from the farm in dry-packed walls, and the narrative of farming implements to create play equipment, we wanted kids to engage with natural play using raw materials,” adds Saint Põl.
WOODLANDS WANDERING & ENDANGERED FYNBOS
An Insta-friendly highlight of the garden is the Boombrug, a treetop-walkway that meanders amongst the hundreds of trees planted to create the remarkable indigenous woodland. Alongside zip-lines and entertaining clamber-frames for kids, the Boombrug offers panoramic views of the Breede River valley.
“It’s also a platform for people to observe the forest canopy maturing. You can return again and again, and on each visit the forest will have changed,” adds Hugo van Niekerk, landscape architect at Square One.
The woodland merges subtly into beds planted with a wide array of indigenous grasses, succulents and bulbs, each carefully chosen to ensure a planting palette of seasonal interest that celebrates the colourful diversity of Cape flora.
Both the Spens and the Winkel are partially built into the hillside, the roofs overlaid with soil and planted with indigenous grasses and succulents to blend seamlessly into the landscape, leaving the panoramic mountains views untouched.
The built and natural environment merge effortlessly here too, with the curved trellises of oak – a subtle reference to traditional cattle kraals – serving as a visual focus that twists and guides visitors inwards. Over time, these extensive trellises will be further integrated into the garden, with more than a dozen species of climbing plants – from bougainvillea to honeysuckle, star jasmine to wisteria – adding seasonal colour, texture and aroma to these striking architectural creations.
It’s a perfect blend of culture and tradition, natural beauty and inspired design, and a continuation of the design philosophy that has established BOSJES Estate as one of the leading destinations in the Cape winelands.
The BOSJES Spens is open from Wednesdays through to Sundays between 08h30 and 16h00. Bookings are not taken.
The BOSJES Kombuis Restaurant is open for lunch from Wednesdays through to Sundays.
BOSJES Estate is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
For enquiries about the Die Skuur Guest House, Die Stalle Spa and also for special events visit www.bosjes.co.za.
Photography credit: Dave Southwood