BOSCHENDAL: HOW TO DO FIVE-STAR FARM GETAWAYS THE RIGHT WAY
Visitors to South Africa’s ‘New World’ winelands are regularly surprised to discover that the country’s winemaking history stretches back for nearly 350 years. The first wines were made here back in 1659 – and not long after that, one of the Cape’s landmark estates was first settled.
That was in 1685, when the French Huguenot Jean le Long laid the foundations of what would become modern-day Boschendal Farm. This venerable estate in the shadow of the Drakenstein and Simonsberg mountain ranges has long been known for its fine wines and fruit, but in the past five years has built a reputation as one of the leading luxury destinations in the winelands.
That is thanks to the consortium of new owners who, in 2012, brought a long-overdue injection of investment and energy to the historic property, revamping the accommodation, food and wine offering across the estate. Today the farm is a shining example of high-end agri-tourism.
At the heart of the offering is the historic Werf precinct, centred on the 200-year-old manor house. In the renovated farm buildings on either side, Executive Chef Christiaan Campbell offers a wide range of culinary experiences that have proven themselves a hit with both locals and tourists.
At the Farm Shop & Deli visitors are presented with a wide range of homemade produce from Boschendal and selected local producers, alongside a menu of deliciousbistro-style dishes. A few steps away the on-site butchery sells superb cured meats and fresh cuts, with an array of wine tasting experiences on offer. But the main gourmet attraction is across the grassy lawns at The Werf restaurant, where Campbell dishes up an ever-changing menu of fine-dining dishes inspired by both the seasons and the farm.
Campbell is a fierce proponent of farm-to-fork dining, and the estate presents his pantry with an enviable selection of fresh produce each day. The 2,000-hectare estate produces a wide variety of export-quality fruit, while the nine-hectare vegetable garden bordering the restaurant takes care of just about all the fresh produce needed by the kitchen.
“The vegetable garden certainly dictates the menu at the Werf Restaurant – it feeds our creativity in the kitchen”, says Campbell.
The farm also has its own herds of pasture-reared sheep and Black Angus cattle, with flocks of free-range chickens roaming the pastures. In winter nearby forests provide wild mushrooms for the menu, too.
While the food and wine offering is superb, the estate’s accommodation is also turning heads.
Perhaps key to that success is the sheer diversity of offerings. With their stylish farm aesthetic, the romantic Werf Cottages are ideal for couples and honeymooners, while the Orchard Cottages are a more affordable, family-friendly option, with spacious lawns and a large pool area. For small groups, the exclusive-use Rhodes Cottage is the perfect five-bedroom bolthole, designed by acclaimed Cape architect Sir Herbert Baker. A National Heritage Site, the house comes with private staff and plenty of seclusion.
In between afternoon siestas and gastronomic adventures there’s plenty to keep guests occupied on the estate. The farm runs up the flanks of the Simonsberg, where mountain bike and walking trails meander through indigenous Cape fynbos vegetation. Horse
riding, trout fishing and vineyard tours are available, along with a range of treatments in the Farm Spa.
With the winter months traditionally a quiet season for inbound tourists to the winelands, Boschendal has been proactive in appealing to locals. Enticing Capetonians out of their homes in the depths of a drizzly Cape winter is no mean feat, but the array of engaging weekend workshops is certainly a good start. Alongside special menus and farm-focused feasts, over the next few months Campbell and his culinary team will offer hands-on weekends, focusing on everything from natural fermentation to artisanal bread-making.
It’s a fine example of a historic estate adapting to a modern-day tourism landscape. Whether guests are stopping in for lunch or unpacking for a long weekend, Boschendal is certainly leading the way in five-star farm getaways.