An intimate getaway at Kunjani

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KUNJANI is a Zulu word which means “hello, how are you?” and from this greeting which leads to friendships, comes the name of Kunjani Wines in Stellenbosch. At this farm, in the Bottelary Hills sub-route, husband and wife owners Paul Barth and Pia Watermeyer, welcome their guests with warm hospitality.

Their hands-on management of their property means one or both of them will be there to greet and welcome you most of the time (new staff appointments will soon give them a little breathing space and time off); it’s a personal touch which is so valuable in building long lasting relationships.

The tasting room and restaurant are housed in a modern building in which designer Haldane Martin’s touch is distinctly visible, and not just in his iconic Songololo couch. Colours accents are rich and bold, and the feel is African without being bush-lodge-kitsch. Here, you can sample six wines for R60 followed or preceded by a lunch, or breakfast.

Pia told me they are fortunate to have the luxury of not releasing their wines immediately, which means the 2018 Sauvignon Blanc, with tropical notes, has settled nicely. The 2018 Chenin, with stone fruits, baked pear and apple, and a dash of lavender, is similarly good.

The third wine is the Stolen Chicken Rosé, or Pia-Noir, which comes with a poignant story. It’s named for Pia’s late son, James, and the chickens which he claimed he found, not stole. They were named Penelope and Knightrider, one white, the other black. The wine is a Rosé because pink was James’s favourite colour, which you’ll see repeated elsewhere too, like the ceramic tableware.

The other three wines in the standard tasting are reds: Merlot 2017, Shiraz 2015 (Michelangelo gold medal winner), and Cabernet Sauvignon 2017, which shows excellent potential. You’d do well to add an extra R10 and taste the 2015 Kunjani Red Blend, a Bordeaux-style blend of Cab Franc, Merlot and Malbec. It has itself a gold medal from the Cabernet Franc Challenge, and is reasonably priced. Do yourself another favour and sign up for the loyalty club which offers discounts on wine, food and accommodation.

Photo by Bianca Coleman

I’m not going to delve too much into the menu because a new one launches on November 1. Look out for the sirloin crusted with biltong spices. Chef Lamek Mnisi was born in Mpumalanga, near Kruger, and raised by his strong and independent single mother. After matriculating and while working as a tracker in the national park, he heard about the Singita Community Enrichment Programme through the Singita School of Cooking. Lamek was selected from 200 candidates for a three-part interview which included having to cook something he loved – crunchies.

This humble recipe earned Lamek a place in the programme and 18 months later he qualified. A sample of those crunchies – an often overlooked traditional South African treat with as many versions are there are Oumas and Gogos – are placed in the villas for guests to enjoy with their morning coffee.

Close to the tasting room are the four villas which overlook the Shiraz block. Three are one-bedroomed, and the fourth is a double-storey which sleeps four. I was in Cabernet (the others are Shiraz, Merlot and Stolen Chicken, of course) which was delightful, with its open-plan lounge and kitchen, bedroom with en-suite shower, and a large stoep with a braai and big couch. What more does a woman need? Oh yes, a bottle of Kunjani Red Blend, which I’d popped in my handbag at the tasting room.

Even though you’re within sight of the main building, the accommodation is secluded enough that you are not disturbed at all. It’s all about the abundant birdlife, the vineyards, the sky and the clouds. In fact, it was only the next morning at breakfast (a flipping fantastic bacon, cheese, tomato and mushroom omelette by the way) that I learned I had neighbours in the other villas. Thank heavens I didn’t drink all that wine and play loud music.

When Pia invited me to spend an extra night, I don’t even know why I thought about it as long as I did before deciding. It was just that little bit extra time that gave me the relaxation I so badly needed, and hey – when you’re self employed and decide to come in to work late on Monday, what’s your boss going to say

Heck, she’s lucky I pitched up at all.

For more information about Kunjani Wines, click here.

FEATURED IMAGE BY BIANCA COLEMAN ©

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