As a family, one of our favourite things to do is to spend a day together discovering a new corner of the winelands… whether with friends or just the four of us.
On one of my recent visits to the area I made an exciting new discovery for a great family fun day destination – the gorgeous historical farm of Vergenoegd….
Hidden down a rather unassuming drive just off Baden Powell Drive and close to the N2, the oasis of Vergenoegd’s manor house and gardens was more than a pleasant surprise.
But there is far more to the farm than just a beautiful building and lovely landscaping. In fact there is a whole host of awesome experiences waiting to be had… from olive oil blending, to tea tasting and even a vintage wine tasting where you can sample wines older than yourself (well, if you were born after 1975!)
The morning started off with watching the waddling workforce head off to work… At 09:30am every morning the Indian Runner Ducks make their way (in numbers you can’t quite believe) across the lawns, past the Manor House and through to the vineyards where they spend the day consuming a startling amount of snails and bugs, playing their part in pest control and contributing to Vergenoegd’s WWF biodiversity certification. (If you happen to miss the morning “run”, at 15:30pm every day you can catch the flock making their way back from the vineyards, via the dam for a cleansing swim).
After this spectacular we took a short tour of the duck pens and “breeding room”, where Mr D (Denzel), the passionate duck farmer on Vergenoegd showed us the cycle of life unfolding – from fertilised egg, to tiny ducking and then slightly older duckling.
Then it was time to head inside the original historical Manor House, furnished in the old Cape Dutch style, to enjoy one of the unique blending and tasting experiences.
Different rooms inside the historical home play host to two interesting blending experiences where you can choose to blend your own wine using Vergenoegd Origin Wines or olive oil using various South African origin Olive Oils.
Known for it’s red wine, Vergenoegd offers 3 different ranges of wine which you can choose to taste across a range of varietals and vintages from 2006 to 2010 in a highly informative tasting with the option of a cellar tour.
Classic Range – A combination of terroir, history, tradition and passionate winemaking produce these distinctively elegant, yet well-structured and complex wines.
Runner Duck Range – Young and sexy, these playfully elegant wines should be enjoyed as often as possible in relaxed surroundings.
Vintage Range– One of the few farms on the Stellenbosch Wine Route where you can taste vintage wines, Vergenoegd offers some of the oldest wines on offer for tasting and purchase.
I chose to do the Olive Oil blending and it was a delicious, sensory experience presented in a unique science lab style!
At the end of each experience, your unique blend of olive oil or wine is packaged and personalized for you to take home (and even to re-order in the future, as every custom blend is stored in their library). Blending experiences start from R95 per person.
After all the excitement of a busy morning, a picnic in the shade of an old oak tree was hard to beat.
We chose a spot to settle and then picnic baskets of delicious artisanal food, created by chef Ryan Shell, arrived, bursting with some of the Cape’s best handmade and freshly picked farm-grown produce including hand made ciabatta, salmon pate, aubergine caviar, duck rillet, caprese salad and baked upside down blueberry & lemon cheesecake.
The picnic options are:
The Running Duck – A selection of seasonal produce that may include locally sourced cheese, nuts and meats plus your choice of Runner Duck Red or White in your basket and complimentary water. (Picnic for 2 = R450)
The Driving Duck – A selection of seasonal produce that may include locally sourced cheese, nuts and meats. Includes complimentary spring water but no wine. (Picnic for 2 = R395)
The Duckling Delight – a fun assortment of healthy snacks and treats and a choice of either fresh juice, or iced tea for kids. Choose one to come equipped with a kid-friendly surprise activity (such as icing and decorating biscuits) and encourage the kids to slow down for a few minutes… before they are off again exploring the grounds with their siblings, friends, or even new friends made on the day! (Picnic for 1 with surprise = R125; without surprise R75))
After a leisurely lunch under the trees it was time to head back indoors to enjoy one more unique blending experience – this time a choice of blending Coffees or Teas of African Origin which was unhurried and personal. Gorgeous aromas and tastes that evoked distant lands created one last memorable experience at this gorgeous wine estate. One we will be sure to visit again (and again)
Images: Kathryn Rossiter