Set aside a full day to experience the joys of Glenelly


GLENELLY in Stellenbosch is an estate I’ve had the good fortune to visit several times, so when it appeared on my recent September itinerary I didn’t mind at all. What I wasn’t expecting, was for it to take up almost my entire day – in a good way, naturally.

There are three aspects to your visit to Glenelly: a meal in the bistro, a wine tasting, and a visit to the glass museum. Of course you don’t have to do all of it, but as a combo package it’s well worth it. Having been before, I wasn’t expecting to spend much time in the glass museum but as it turned out, I became utterly engrossed and eventually had to drag myself away so as to have lunch and taste wine before all the staff wanted to go home.

The story about owner of Glenelly, Lady May de Lencquesaing, and the farm itself, is one of which I never grow tired of hearing. You can learn more here. Lady May has a passion for glass, and has one of the largest privately owned collections in the world. The display at Glenelly changes, and according to the museum manger Shirna Lindoor, Madame pops in from time to time and moves things around as well so it’s not that much of a surprise that much of it felt new and different since my last visit.

It’s a marvellous collection, ranging from historic pieces to modern art, and the sheer range of what can be done with glass is astonishing. I’ve not had the pleasure of meeting Madame in person (only some of her grandchildren) but I’ve often heard what she says about the connection between glass and wine: “Sharing with us her love of glass, she spoke of the common connection between wine and glass being the soil… Whilst glass is made from sand and can be transformed into beautiful art, the same can be said of great wine which originates from often the poorest of soils. Referring to the great glassmaking masters as old friends, it was clear that strong, abiding relationships have played a central role in her life,” wrote Wade Bales.

After the museum, which is sort of in the basement but looks into the multi-level winery which is built on a slope (you’ll have to go there to see what I’m on about), I went back upstairs to The Vine Bistro for lunch. Chef patron Christophe Dehosse puts together a small ever-changing menu with ingredients for the adventurous. I’m one of those so I had the pan fried pork trotter galette with pickled vegetables, celery salad and sauce gribiche (more or less a tartar sauce) for starters, followed by lightly cured hake (which can be substituted when there’s other fish available) with spring vegetables, maxime potatoes (a delicate fried potato crisp which added texture), and wilted spinach with lemon and olive oil emulsion.

Then it was time to level up (literally, up another flight of stairs) to the tasting room where I appear to have a regular table, which is rather nice. Bronwen Adams remembered me from before as well, and was keen to bring me all the wines to sample. Alas, I had to dial him down a notch as I was driving, but a couple of Chardonnays followed by Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, and the 2014 Lady May, Glenelly’s flagship red, did not go amiss.

A bit of good news is that if you can’t make it to the estate but wish to purchase some of the fine wines, you can make up as little as a mixed case of six to qualify for free delivery in and around Cape Town. More is better. That’s jolly sporting of them. In case you missed the link above, click here for more info.


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