AT A GLANCE:
Position: No 34 & The Best Vineyard in Africa
Name of wine estate: Vergelegen Estate
Country: South Africa
Wine region: Stellenbosch
Standout points: Protected Cape heritage site, extensive wine tourism options
Winemaker: André van Rensburg
Wine style: Premium Bordeaux blends
Vergelegen Estate in Somerset West is a classic example of that special brand of sun-drenched luxury wine experience in which the Western Cape specialises, with an extensive heritage display, a beautifully preserved homestead, 17 gardens, three restaurants and an array of fascinating tours to keep you busy on your visit.
Founded by the first Governor of the Cape, a visionary yet controversial Dutchman called Adriaan van der Stel, in 1700, the estate has passed through many hands since those early days. Now owned by the Anglo-American mining company, it is viewed as one of the most valuable heritage sites in South Africa, with two-thirds of the estate now declared a Private Nature Reserve with the same level of government protection as the Kruger National Park.
The Bordeaux blends master
André van Rensburg, a legendary figure in South African wine circles, has been the winemaker here since 1997. He makes a wide range of wines from this territorially diverse 3,000ha estate but is an acknowledged master with Bordeaux varieties. Since 1992, he and his wines have benefited from the construction of an impressive, multi-levelled, sunken hilltop winery – opened by Baron Eric de Rothschild, owner of Château Lafite in Bordeaux. The design of the winery is unlike any previously built in South Africa and based on the principles of gentle handling and natural gravity flow.
Cape culture write large
Tastings guided by experienced staff can be enjoyed at the Tasting Centre overlooking the postcard-pretty octagonal-shaped herb garden (choose to taste outside on the patio if weather permits, which it almost certainly will). Cellar tours take place several times a day throughout the week. Vergelegen estate in Somerset West offers visitors an unrivalled opportunity to experience Western Cape culture – and wine!