The Stellenbosch winelands near Cape Town are one of my favourite places in the world. I’ll never tire of the magnificent mountain scenery, gorgeous vineyards, beautiful Cape Dutch architecture, the friendly locals and their big smiles. Hence, it’s always a treat to return to this stunning part of the world – and I count myself very fortunate that I get to visit every year. On my recent visit, I decided to spend a weekend in Stellenbosch before heading to Cape Town to attend a travel trade fair. Lanzerac Wine Estate Hotel & Spa offered to host me for the weekend and I didn’t need to think twice! I’d been to Lanzerac before, albeit for a lunch and wine-tasting, and absolutely loved it! Situated in Jonkershoek Valley, just outside Stellenbosch town, Lanzerac is one of the oldest, most luxurious wine estates and hotels in the Stellenbosch winelands.
My stay at Lanzerac Wine EstateLanzerac can trace its roots back to 1692, making it one of the oldest wineries in South Africa. It’s also the home of the first bottled Pinotage, one of my favourite wine grapes (a cross between a Pinot Noir and Hermitage, or Cinsaut). Lying splendidly in the Jonkershoek Valley, a few kilometers outside the historic town of Stellenbosch (map), Lanzerac is surrounded by dramatic mountains (often against the backdrop of a bright blue sky) and row upon row of vines which extend to the lower slopes of the mountains.
A long, tree-lined driveway leads to the heart of the estate, which is made up of the historic Manor House and Werf buildings, with their characteristic Cape Dutch gables. Clustered around these iconic buildings are smaller buildings and cottages which house the cellars, wine-tasting rooms, meeting rooms, Spa and 53 rooms and suites.
Check-in was smooth and I was thrilled to hear that they’d upgraded me to a suite. I was accompanied to the suite, situated at the back of the estate. As we made our way there, we passed gorgeous gardens, manicured lawns, a beautiful pool and elegant whitewashed cottages.
I entered the suite (208) and I’m quite sure I gasped (audibly). The bellboy smiled and said this was his favourite room. He proudly showed me around, stopping briefly at the mini-bar (which is included in the room rate and is replenished daily) before leading me to the living area, the massive bedroom and ditto bathroom. He opened the sliding doors which opened out to a gazebo and a private pool with a view of the vineyard and the mountains. I was in awe! My first thought was: I wished my house looked like this! Scroll down to the bottom for a video of my suite and tour of Lanzerac Wine Estate.
I settled down in the gazebo with a glass of wine from the mini-bar and took in the view. On the lawn, little squirrels scampered around while Hadada ibis birds plucked at the grass. In the distance, beyond the vineyards, the mountains and bright blue sky formed an imposing, almost surreal, backdrop. It was so tranquil and breathtaking that I briefly lost all sense of time and place. This place was simply mesmerising!
A tragic fire and a stunning re-birth
In May 2017, Lanzerac Wine Estate suffered a destructive fire and was forced to close for 13 months. As my previous visit took place before the fire, I was intrigued by how the estate was reconstructed. I pulled myself out of my slumber and went on a stroll. The Manor House and Werf buildings were the worst hit during the fire so I made my way there. As I strolled around, I couldn’t help but feel great admiration for the tremendous job done in reconstructing these historic monuments. The whole place oozed elegance and old world charm, with visible references to the estate’s rich history. I especially love how the designers left parts of the old flooring and brickwork exposed.
A cellar tour, wine-tasting and a blissful lunch
The estate has various eateries and bars: the fine-dining Manor Kitchen, the Taphuis bar (where guests can also have meals), the Deli and the Craven Lounge, which has an impressive collection of spirits, wines and craft beers.
Included in the room rate are a tour of the cellar and a wine-tasting so I booked these right away. The tour started in the Deli and we were taken down to the cellar. Our cheery guide explained the wine-making process and the fascinating history of the estate.
After the tour, I found a table at the Deli’s sunny terrace and proceeded with the wine-tasting experience. There’s no question about it – Lanzerac wines are top-notch! The Pinotage is superb (I bought a bottle to bring home) but so are the Le Général red blend and Mrs. English Chardonnay. I extended my stay at the terrace by ordering a cheese and paté platter, and paired it with a wonderful Cabernet Sauvignon. Pure bliss!
Another indulgent day at Lanzerac
After a terrific night’s sleep, I sauntered down to the Manor Kitchen for breakfast and found a decadent spread of oysters, salmon, mackerel, cheeses, cold cuts, sparkling wines and more… in addition to hot dishes which could be ordered á la carte. I’m not much of a breakfast person but I sure indulged myself here!
In the afternoon, after several hours at the pool, I made my way to the Spa where I’d booked a two-hour body/face treatment. The Spa was stunning, with an indoor pool and gym, and a large deck overlooking the vineyard and boasting a view of the Jonkershoek mountains. The treatment was very relaxing – I especially loved the wine-themed products used, which were also in my bathroom – and my skin felt pretty incredible after the exfoliation and Pinotage oil massage.
I had dinner that evening at the Manor Kitchen. The menu featured dishes using local and seasonal ingredients. I tucked into the pan-fried scallops (which I paired with the Mrs. English Chardonnay) for my starter, and as a main course, I had the blackened sirloin of beef, paired with the Le Général red blend. The food and accompanying wines were simply superb!
The following day, the manager offered me a tour of the estate and I got to see other rooms and suites. What really amazed me is the fact that EVERY room and suite is different. The Cape Heritage style is predominant but every piece of furniture was individually-sourced for each room and suite. The layouts also differed – for instance, the suite next door to mine had a cozy lounge on a mezzanine floor while mine was the only suite with a gazebo.
Needless to say, I had a fabulous weekend at Lanzerac Wine Estate. If you’re visiting Stellenbosch, I recommend going to the estate for at least a wine-tasting/lunch. If you have a few days to spare, consider a stay at the Lanzerac Hotel & Spa for a blissful, indulgent experience.
Getting to Stellenbosch
Stellenbosch is located about a 40-minute drive from Cape Town (CBD) and about 30 minutes from Cape Town International Airport. Getting there is easy by taxi or Uber (approximately EUR 30/USD 35). I recommend hiring a car in order to explore the rest of the region at your leisure. Read about things to do and stunning drives in the region:
- Ten things to do in Cape Town
- Driving the Cape Winelands
- Driving the Cape Peninsula loop
- The marine life of the Western Cape
Note: a big thank you goes to Lanzerac Hotel & Spa for hosting me and for their terrific hospitality! As always, all views above are mine, and mine only.