travel leisure | lifestyle
Go tell it on the
mountain Villa in a valley allows guests to withdraw from daily trials
Have you seen the news? Sometimes it’s like the world is falling apart. And sometimes when the going gets tough, you need to get away. That’s how I felt on the drive to the Oldenburg Vineyards Homestead – through Stellenbosch highway construction, up the winding Helshoogte Pass, and over gravel roads that made me think we were lost and in need of a 4x4.
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Yes, we were off the beaten track, but our overnight stay would be far from rough. If anything, driving through a final gauntlet of trees, with never-ending vineyards
on one side and expansive lawns on the other, was like stumbling upon Downton Abbey in the heart of the Western Cape. Although it dates back over 200 years, this sixbedroom Cape Dutch property has all the modern amenities of a luxury villa. Indeed, the 600m2 doublestorey homestead was recently the location of a surprise party for 100 online influencers and special guests, who almost broke the internet with their #Stellenblog posts. But our overnight stay was a far quieter affair; the kind of experience I imagine would be ideal for C-suite executives in need of a corporate retreat. Just 10 guests,
Oldenburg Vineyards Tel: 021 885 1618 Email: [email protected]
oldenburgvineyards. com Website: www. oldenburgvineyards. com
two housekeepers, two chefs, a house manager and a butler who made sure our glasses were never dry.
Fruitful origins The afternoon began with lunch on the main terrace and bubbly by the pool, enjoying the sunshine. And although the homestead offers access to the owner’s private wine collection, we took a quick evening walk to the cellar door for a private wine-tasting of our own. It was here where sales and marketing manager Ina Basson told us the story of the estate. The property began as a fruit farm, with the main body
named Rondekop because of its prominent round hill. But after buying it at an auction in 1955, where many buyers didn’t show up because of miserable weather, Helmut Hohmann changed the name to Oldenburg in memory of his German hometown – and to mark the end of a painful water rights dispute that went all the way to the Supreme Court. The first vineyards were planted in the 1960s, with a combination of Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc doing well. But when Hohmann passed away in 1993, the estate went into a trust and the vineyards declined.
How to get there
Airlink connects Cape Town with Victoria Falls, Pietermaritzburg and Pretoria. Go to page 79 for full flight schedules www.flyairlink.com
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travel leisure | lifestyle
The Banghoek (‘scary corner’) Valley was so named because of the leopards who used to roam the area
Adrian Vanderspuy, whose maternal grandmother lived with Hohmann at Oldenburg, bought the farm in 2003 and replanted all 30 hectares. He believed the property had the potential for making premium wine, and he’s been proved right, given the collection’s long list of top awards.
Living the life
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Back at the homestead, while some warmed up over drinks in front of the fireplace and others huddled under blankets outside, our private chefs prepared a royal feast: fillet, quail and a crayfish braai. And then we sat down to dinner right there in the kitchen (destined to appear on a cooking show one day, surely) where it all came to life. Never mind that we’d been nibbling on gourmet canapés all day; there was still room for more. It was the same at breakfast the next morning.
“What would you like to eat?”the chef asked as I took my seat at the table.“I can make you a salmon omelette with some cream cheese and fresh dill. Or standard bacon and eggs. We also have homemade, artisanal muesli with fresh cranberries.” This is what Oprah must feel like, I thought. I might have even said it aloud. I reminded him of his promise to make me a crayfish omelette with the leftovers we couldn’t finish the night before. But much like the other guests, I also had a bit of everything, happy in the knowledge that the homestead included a private gym. Before we reluctantly took our leave, there was time for a walk through the steep vineyards, with plenty of stops to take pictures and catch our breath. We were only 10 minutes from Stellenbosch, but being in the Banghoek Valley (the name translates as ‘scary corner’ – the valley was so named because of the leopards who used to roam the area) was like being in a world far away, with a light mist in the distance and mountains on all sides. More than that, closing my eyes and feeling a breeze blowing a smile onto my face made me realise the power of stepping back for perspective. It’s much like Maya Angelou once wrote: “Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.” Text | Eugene Yiga Photography | Supplied