With so many gorgeous wine estates to choose from on a visit to the Cape Winelands it can be hard to know which one to head to, which is why I’ve taken it upon myself to visit as many as is humanly possible and to share my experiences here – such selflessness, right!?
On first driving up the winding road to the crest of the hill I found myself confronted with an imposing block of a building that wasn’t quite what I had in mind for a picturesque wine estate… it was only once I stepped inside and joined a group tour of the unique cellar with winemaker Luke O’Cuinneagain that I discovered exactly what makes this building so special…
But my first stop was a rather unique destination within a destination – the incredible Glass Museum housed in the basement and home to the extensive private collection of glass acquired by Glenelly owner, May de Lencquesaing.
Before my visit I was quite unaware that such a treasure trove existed on South African soil – at the Glenelly Glass Museum over 2 000 years of glassmaking are on display and it makes for a fascinating education for adults and (well-behaved) children alike!
Inspired by May de Lancquesaing’s lifelong passion for glass this antique and contemporary collection is one of the largest privately owned in the world.
My kids found this collection of 480 pieces extraordinary. Beautiful blown glass from Murano sits alongside items of Roman antiquity – history come alive and each telling a story. The display cabinets are beautifully illuminated to allow the glass art to take centre stage. My favourite were the Art Nouveau and Art Deco pieces, but be sure to pay a visit yourself to discover which items speak to you.
Following our tour of the museum we headed further into the basement to discover the heart of Glenelly – the state-of-the-art winery and an incredible feat of engineering
Winemaker Luke O’Cuinneagain shared more about what makes Glenelly wines unique – they are created as naturally as possible with minimal intervention, wild yeast fermentation and no acidification.
And then it was time to sample the fruit of the vines…
After a brief sampling in the cellar, we headed back up to the top floor of the modern winery, where the tasting room overlooks the Simonsberg Mountain, to discover the delights of Glenelly wine.
In the main tasting area, a contemporary bar made using granite from the estate invites the guests to sit and taste while savouring the view and a series of tasting experiences and food pairings enable visitors to discover the award-winning wines of the Glass Collection, Estate Reserve and Lady May wines.
The Glass Collection is a range of premium single varietal wines that celebrates May de Lencquesaing’s lifelong passion for glass collecting.
The Estate Reserve are the signature wines of the estate and include a red blend using the highest quality grapes and a beautifully complex oaked Chardonnay.
The Lady May is Glenelly’s flagship wine sourced from a single block of Cabernet Sauvignon and completed with a dash of other traditional Bordeaux grapes.
Since 2007 she has devoted her time to the development of Glenelly. Re-opening the estate in late 2016 after extensive renovations to reveal a world-class winelands destination.
According to May, “wines are made to pair with food, so introducing a culinary experience at Glenelly was a logical step on our journey”.
The final stop on our tour of Glenelly estate was lunch on the terrace of Vine Bistro where French chef Christophe Dehosse delivered dish after dish of deliciousness.
The bistro is warm and elegant with a fire place for the winter and a long terrace under a pergola for the summer.
The menu is small and changes regularly, with 5 to 6 options for each course. Menu favourites include a blend of Cape and French flavours… Cape line fish ceviche with tomato salsa and sea lettuce; Salad of marinated goats’ cheese, root vegetable crisps and basil pesto; Line-caught gurnard, ratatouille, pommes dauphine and fennel with cumin sauce; Cape Wagyu flat iron steak, fondant potatoes, grilled baby marrow and a shallot sauce; Braised pork cheeks, roast root vegetables and a thyme jus; Springbok loin, celeriac mousseline, broad bean and a red wine sauce; Canelé, roast pineapple and rooibos & honey ice cream; Strawberry parfait, meringue and strawberry & mint salad.
Address: Lelie Street, Idas Valley, Stellenbosch 7600
Opening hours: Wednesday to Saturday: 10h00 until 17h00 · Sundays: 10h00 until 15h00 · Closed: Mondays and Tuesdays
Tel: 021 809 6440
Opening Hours: Tuesday and Wednesday 10h00 until 18h00 · Thursday to Saturday until 19h00 and Sunday until 15h00
Tel: 021 809 6446
The Vine Bistro
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday: 12h00 until 15h00 · Thursday to Saturday: 18h30 until 22h00
Tel: 021 809 6444