If like me, you love a glass of wine almost as much as your husband or wife to be, South Africa’s Cape Winelands are an easy choice when it comes to planning your honeymoon. With its vine-striped valleys and white-walled Cape Dutch architecture, it has enough vineyards and restaurants to keep even the most seasoned wine-loving couple happy.
Just 40 minutes from Cape Town, this is the country’s wine capital and while you could (and absolutely should) spend days dotting between the top-class wineries, nothing feels quite as indulgent as staying on one – which is why we headed to luxury hotel and working vineyard Lanzerac Wine Estate in Stellenbosch to beat our post-wedding blues.
Dating back to 1692, Lanzerac Wine Estate is of the oldest and most luxurious estates in the area, combining all the pedigree you’d expect of a 326-year-old working winery with the sumptuous surrounds of a five-star hotel and spa. Perhaps most famously, it is also the birthplace of the first bottled Pinotage – a cross between a Pinot Noir and Hermitage and South Africa’s first unique, indigenous wine grape variety.
Tucked away in the foothills of theJonkershoek valley, you’re just a few kilometres outside of leafy Stellenbosch town, yet the estate feels like another world entirely. Driving down the oak-lined dappled driveway is like taking a step back in time.
With its Dutch gabled exterior stark white against a bright blue sky and dramatic mountain backdrop, this is one special corner of the Cape. Having been preserved for decades (and now designated as a Provincial Heritage site) the iconic Manor House and Werf buildings make up the centre of the estate, while a series of white-washed cottages make up the 53 rooms and suites.
Sadly, a fire in 2017 caused extensive damage to the property, causing it to close its doors for a year. While it may have been a tragedy, the new interiors are astounding – fusing the period grandeur of the previous property, with its rough stone walls and exposed beams with contemporary elements like the walls in the grand dining room. You can practically see the history as you step from one type of flooring to the next, across different generations.
The estate is expansive, and we get lost several times, but it’s a joy to uncover all the different corners. The fountains, the courtyard rose gardens shaded by ancient oaks – one of many pools flanked by white loungers and backed by plane trees.
The gardens are immaculate, enveloping you in blooms and different scents as you walk to your room. While the rest of the estate may be beautiful, it’s just a warm-up for the rooms – which are the real show stoppers here. No two are the same, with four different categories ranging from classic to a suite, but all offering huge ceilings, chandeliers and romantic bathtubs.
Our pool suite is really more like a house – with an entrance hall and study leading onto the bedroom and living room. To one side, a marble-clad bathroom with steamy rain shower and rolltop bath stand next to shuttered white french windows that pull back completely to reveal a garden full of pink roses. Even the toiletries are in keeping, with Merlot bath gel and Sauvignon Blanc shampoo which smell so good I stash a couple away to take home.
Sliding doors from the living room opens up onto the prettiest courtyard, with a white gazebo and private pool and loungers for two, with a view right onto the vines and mountains beyond. Breakfast is included in our stay, so naturally, we order it to the Gazebo, where we eat in contented silence as the morning mist burns off the slopes. The mini-bar is also included, which, given that it is stocked with plenty of the estate’s own wines, means we’re a little loathe to leave this haven of a hideaway.
Unless of course, it’s to check out the Lanzerac Estate Winery – of which a cellar tour and wine tasting come included in our stay. The cellar tour is informative – our guide Nyameka giving everyone from the more expert to beginners a chance to learn about both the wines and the historic estate, whose rich winemaking history can be traced back to the early 1900s, when the first Lanzerac wine was bottled from grapes harvested on the farm.
After the tour, we’re given a choice of 5 wines to taste on the terrace upstairs, accompanied by a huge platter of cured meats, cheeses and chutney from Lanzerac’s deli. One of our favourites is the Mrs English Chardonnay – named after one of the property’s most influential owners, Elizabeth ‘Kitty’ English, who bought the estate in 1920, changing its name to Lanzerac, rumoured to be after Charles Lanrezac – a French General, after whom the red blend Le Général is also named. Mrs English passed away in 1929, but not before transforming the estate into one of the most modern wineries in the Cape, laying the foundations for Stellenbosch’s world-renowned wines, which continues today under the leadership of Cellar Master Wynand Lategan and Viticulturist Danie Malherbe.
For dinner, the more formal setting of the Manor Kitchen offers multiple courses of classical, contemporary dishes – from pan-fried scallops to venison loin. But wanting to enjoy the mild weather, we opt for a seat under the stars on a pretty corner table on the terrace at Taphuis, one of the property’s most historic spots whose wood-panelled walls have been housing thirsty guests since the 1960s. The pub-style tapas menu champions home-grown ingredients from local suppliers, with options like Smoked Snoek Mousse with Cape gooseberry compote and the Braai Broodjie (a South African BBQ sandwich) with Huguenot cheese. After dinner, cocktails in the Craven Cigar lounge are the order of the day, reminiscent of an old-boys club with its roaring fireplace, stags horns and selection of whisky and cigars which keeps my husband particularly happy.
The next day, with the use of the spa facilities also included in our stay, we head down to for an afternoon pamper session. The whole spa is bliss – a wellness retreat in its own right, with a glass-ceilinged heated indoor pool which leads right out onto sunbeds facing the vines, where I channel Ab Fab while waiting for my other half, cocooned in a dressing gown and sunglasses. A calming palette of white walls and tropical plants, there is also a bubbling jacuzzi, full gym and therapy rooms where you can choose from a range of treatments from facials to pedicures. We opt for the AromaVine Pinotage Massage – which uses antioxidant blends containing pure grapeseed oil and natural botanicals to help relieve stress and muscle tension.
Despite Lanzerac’s hideaway feel, the restaurants and bars of the lively yet leafy university town of Stellenbosch are just 5 minutes away via complimentary transfer. Yet in truth, we barely leave the estate – with all we could seemingly want for right here on our doorstep.
Hopping over the fence at the bottom of our garden, we take a sunset walk through the vines, with a bottle of our favourite wine from our tasting. It’s a rare feat, but Lanzerac Wine Estate is a place where old meets new, not in a collision but in a complement – contemporary, five-star facilities coupled with an extraordinarily rich Cape heritage that leaves us hoping for another visit.
To book, visit Lanzerac www.lanzerac.co.za