Elegant Places

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Tulbagh Valley of Abundance

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There are so many lovely things to do on the Tulbagh Wine Route. It is a picture perfect town with many of the Cape Dutch buildings restored to their original structure. Only 2 hours away from Cape Town, it is the perfect weekend break.

We stayed at Oudekloof Luxury Guest Farm which is a restored Cape Dutch Farm House. Built in 1754, the farm is almost 300 years old. The Cape leopard has been spotted in the surrounding hills who roams freely and uninhibited. Inside the house there is a beautiful big kitchen, dining room and sitting room where you can sit in front of the fire with a glass of wine from the Tulbagh Wine Route.
The rooms are spacious and comfortable with gorgeous linen. The bathrooms are modern with a jet bath perfect for long bubbles baths for two. Some of the rooms have their own fireplaces, so enquire which you prefer. In the morning, a farmhouse breakfast was served by host Louise Vally, who made us feel most welcome.

The next morning we embarked on our day trip around the surrounding winelands. The weather in autumn is very temperate unlike the very hot summer months. It is the ideal time of year to visit this little town. The fields are green with the vines changing their colour palette to vibrant oranges and reds.

The first winery we went to was Rijk's Private Cellar & Country House. Such a tranquil setting, it is no surprise that it is such a popular wedding destination.
Next was Twee Jonge Gezellen - The House of Krone. They pick their grapes at night to keep all the bubbles in for maximum effect. In December they host a Summer Elegance party which you must be sure to put in your diary as the coolest 'Cap Classique' event of the season. 
Further on, is Saronsberg which is a modern winery and part of the portfolio in the lovely Quiver Tree publication. The art is a main feature of the winery both inside and outside. The high windows, impressive architecture and views are to be admired.
It is worth a visit to De Oude Drostdy especially to see the cellar below, with its narrow stairs and low doorways. In the tasting room there are spitoons made of brass that look like relics from the past. The Chinese vases brought by age-old ships from the far east are spectacular.
We then headed to historic Church Street, to Paddagang Restaurant & Wine House. We sat in the courtyard surrounded by peacocks. They seem to simply glide on the expansive lawns under the cool shade of the oak trees.

For desert we went to the Moniki chocolate shop who make Belgium and Dutch styled chocolates. Be sure to get yourself a 'letter' of your first name as done by Dutch children for Sinterklaas Eve parties. The Netherlands is the only place with a St. Nicholas chocolate initial letter tradition and hopefully it will become one in South Africa too. The Christmas in Winter Festival this year will transform Tulbagh into a winter wonderland. The winters in Tulbagh are known to have snow at the top of the Winterhoek Mountains which is a delight to local and international visitors.

Church Street is lined with Cape Dutch gables of all variations, each with its own unique style and taste. Reader's Restaurant in particular, in my opinion, is a very pretty building to visit which opened its doors for the first time to the public in June 1997. We ate there on the Saturday evening and the cuisine is outstanding by Carol Collins – Silwood trained Cordon Bleu Chef. The kudu fillet with Cape gooseberries was uniquely divine. The dishes are done with flair, love and attention to detail. The trio of ice-creams with unique tastes leaves your imagination wanting more.
On our way back to the comfort of Oudekloof, we encountered the Chapel at Montpellier, which is subtly lit up at night and truly makes the Tulbagh valley feel like a fairy tale.

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Note: For those in the art world; You can view some incredible art work from the likes of artist Jan Vermeiren 'Blue Ladies' at Monbijou.