Vergelegen Wine Estate: A Guide to its Grounds and Gardens
We were enthralled by each mouthful, eliciting uhmms and ahhs of satisfaction – our heads bobbing in approval.
Vergelegen is an estate worthy of several visits.
It’s expansive grounds and gardens – there are 17 in total – could be covered within a day but to fully explore, and more importantly, to fully appreciate all that this esteemed estate has to offer, a few visits are in order.
I ventured to the estate for the first time on a balmy summer day at the start of February 2023. Driving down the impressive entrance with forests on either side, my excitement for lunch in the shadows of the Hottentots Holland mountain range grew. I parked and wandered through to the Visitor’s Centre, picking up a handy map (while not strictly needed, it’s helpful to have one as a guide to all that the estate offers and to help you find your way). I was pointed in the right direction, through the herb garden to Stables Restaurant where my party was meeting for lunch.
Dining at Vergelegen
There are three dining options that visitors to this historical estate can enjoy, each with a different budget, and style. There’s the signature Camphors at Vergelegen restaurant which offers a more refined meal option. Then there's the more relaxed, country picnic option in the shade of the centuries-old Camphor forest which is only available from November to April. The third family-friendly option is the one that my friends, a motley crew of rowdy ladies that I horse ride with, and I had booked. We were celebrating a relaxed birthday at the estate’s bistro-style and aptly named Stables restaurant.
Stables at Vergelegen
The more relaxed of the two restaurants at Vergelegen, Stables has a clear equestrian theme from the woodworked statue of a trotting horse to the numerous bridles, bits and saddles dotted around the L-shaped venue.
We greedily took it all in and several threats to steal the magnificent horse-themed artwork were made before we took our seats in the slightly more private wing of the L, tucked away from the main dining area. It was perfect for a semi-private celebration.
The main dining room spills out onto a shaded patio overlooking the East Garden’s beautiful flowers and children’s play area. The atmosphere was relaxed – a sublime blend of casual and sophistication that invites guests to linger longer, taking their time to fully enjoy themselves.
The menu at Stables at Vergelegen should suit even the fussiest of eaters with pizzas, burgers and casual but tantalizing fair. We started with some warm bread and soft butter while we mulled over the menu, all the while sipping on a delicious Vergelegen white wine. More than one of us was torn between two or three dishes. Quite a few people opted for the generously sized beef burger that came with chips and onion rings while I opted for the fried chicken open sandwich.
The food arrived quickly, presented beautifully, it looked almost too good to eat. Ravenous as we were, we didn’t wait long before tucking in. Silence descended on our usually boisterous group. We were enthralled by each mouthful, eliciting uhmms and ahhs of satisfaction – our heads bobbing in approval. We ended our meal on a sweet note, many choosing the generously sized deep fried ice cream, while I tried their heavenly crème brulée. A favourite dessert of mine, and one that I judge quite harshly. This one hit the mark and then some.
We languished in the afterglow of full bellies, and warm, happy hearts before paying the bill and heading into the gardens to explore.
Things to do at Vergelegen
With 17 individual gardens waiting to be explored, you could easily spend the entire day at Vergelegen. Having had a hearty lunch - and the weather being as hot as it was - we perused only a small section. Of the 17 gardens, we enjoyed the bamboo, herb, east and octagonal - which includes the David Austin rose - gardens. We ventured to the sunflowers, one of my favourite flowers, and spent a few minutes there, snapping photos and smiling, ear to ear.
Next time I visit, I'll be sure to plan time for the wetlands and yellowwood walk.
Vergelegen's historical Homestead features antiques and displays celebrating the estate's rich, 300-year history. While we didn't give the Homestead the due it deserves, we did fly through it after appreciating the beautify of its colourful Octagonal garden.
Along with refurbished rooms and informative displays, you'll also find the historical Camphors trees and an old slave bell. The entire Homestead, including its front and back garden area, call for further exploration at a more leisurely and respectful pace.
Wine Tasting at Vergelegen
We had a bottle of white with our lunch which was superb. And while we didn't opt for a wine tasting on the day that we visited, it's definitely in the cards for next time. Tastings of their entry level range start at R45 per person and goes up to R125 per person for their flagship range.
There are three official tours on offer at Vergelegen: a wine and cellar tour, a garden and heritage tour, and an environmental tour. I'd like to one day be able to say that I've done them all but for now, here's a snapshot of what you can expect.
Cellar and vineyard tour
The 90-minute, R75 per person cellar and vineyard tour guides you through the vineyards and the octagonal gravity flow cellar which rests hillside, above the estate gardens. You'll see the underground barrel vault and be treated to stunning views of False Bay, Hottentots Holland and Table Mountain in the distance.
Heritage and garden tour
The heritage and garden walking tour takes you through some of the estate's magnificent themed gardens as well as the 200-year old library and 300-year old Homestead. By the end of the hour-long, R50 tour, you'll have a new appreciation for the heritage and art dotted around the historical estate.
With so much nature around, you never know what you'll find. The 3,000 hectare estate is also home Nguni cattle, Bontebok and Eland which can only be seen on the environmental tour. The R350 and 90-minute tour takes you through the Vergelegen Nature Reserve where these wild animals can be found.