AN easy hour’s drive from Cape Town, through the tunnel then left and left again and you’ll find yourself in Slanghoek Valley. If you go left-right, you’ll be heading to Rawsonville. It was difficult to tell on the day I went down that road for the first time, on account of it being full of low clouds and rain, but the R101 snakes (sorry) through a proper valley where you can see the mountains flanking you on both sides. It’s different from, say, Franschhoek, which is a much wider valley.
While I was daydreaming I missed the sign for Opstal and had to throw a quick U-turn. This farm was established in 1847 and is family owned and run. Current wine maker Attie Louw and his brother Zak are the seventh generation, and their Pa still lives in the house in which he was born, across the road from the restaurant and tasting room.
Attie has completed 10 harvests while in charge of Opstal Estate Winery. He’s known for all things Chenin and a string of Platter’s five-star accolades to prove it.
Opstal has three labels with Chenin blanc being the main focus. The ranges are the fun, easy-drinking and lifestyle Sixpence Range, the classic and food-friendly Estate Range, and the premium Heritage Range. The two wines Attie says he gets most excited about are the Carl Everson Chenin (900 bottles at a time, sold all over the world), and The Barber Chenin.
Carl Everson was Attie’s great-grandfather, the visionary who embraced the wine industry and saw a future in it for himself and his offspring. The Barber was Attie’s grandad who opened a barber’s shop in Worcester after World War I. He married Ansie Everson of Opstal farm and was instrumental in the expansion of Opstal, along with his father-in-law, Carl.
Opstal Stay, across the road from the tasting room and restaurant facilities, is the new accommodation option. It comprises five contemporary, tasteful and supremely comfortable freestanding units – two four-sleepers, three two-sleepers.
Each cottage is named after someone in Opstal’s history; mine was Lady Ansie. Ansie Louw, born Everson, was the grandmother of the now seventh generation of Louws on the farm.
The cottages are beautifully decorated – clean and unfussy, pleasingly neutral earthy shades and modern design features. I fell in love with the bedside lamps, the hot water bottle in its little polo neck jumper, and the cunning Dover stove which burns slow and hot and cut my normal wood consumption by more than half. There’s an outside shower, which was a fun and steamy thing to do under the stars.
Sliding doors open the entire house to the view of the vineyards and mountains in front, and at the back there is fynbos as far as the eye can see. Which is up the mountains that guard the opposite side of the valley. It smells exquisite, especially after the rain, and it’s quiet and peaceful – a balm for this city gal.
There’s a concrete tub which can be heated with a log fire, but be warned – it comes out of your free six-bag allocation. Choose wisely.
Breakfast the next morning was at the restaurant (open Wednesdays to Sundays), where PJ Lombard is the chef. I must have looked hungry because the plate of food was massive – and very delicious. Or maybe that’s just farm style. As part of Opstal’s sustainability drive, it supports nearby farms and local speciality producers where possible.
This extends into another Opstal offering: the Vars Box, which can be ordered online. It costs R550 and is filled with fabulous local produce, something different every month. “Peach jam from my mom’s kitchen, made with peaches from the farm,” says Attie, showing me the jar. Pale honey from down the road; Worcester sauce from, well, Worcester; coffee, wine cupcakes, mushrooms, kiwis and patats when they’re in season, free range egss, lemons… “It’s authentic affie plaas, and you’re trusing us to make the choice for you,” Attie adds.
There’ll be a special festive season edition in November. Some of the items can also be bought in the Opstal shop – look out for the heavenly rusks that are also stocked in the cottages for you to dunk in your morning coffee.
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FEATURED IMAGE BY BIANCA COLEMAN ©