UNTIL someone buys me a wine farm of my own – or at the very least names a wine after me – I will accept every opportunity to spend time on wine farms. This can be to drink wine, and/or eat food, and/or to stay over. At L’Avenir – which is only a few kilometres from the Stellenbosch town centre – you can do all these things.
Guests at the Country Lodge receive a free wine tasting which can be enjoyed indoors in front of a fireplace or outside overlooking the dam. Various food pairings are available, with the elegant French-style wines. The flagship is the Pinotage, and the Rosés are exceptional. If you want to learn even more about what happens before the wine is in the bottle, there is an educational garden behind the tasting room.
The four-star lodge is right there, between the cellar and the vineyards. Room 1 at the end of the corridor has its own private outdoor area with a plunge pool. I wasn’t brave enough, even on a glorious sunny day – it’s still winter, people – but I got myself a bottle of chilled Brute Rosé bubbles and an ice bucket from the tasting room, which went down a treat while reading my book.
Those who know me, or follow me on Instagram, will know I have a thing for hotel slippers, or feet pillows. Yes, Anja – I’m looking at you! The normal room recce failed to turn these up to go with the luscious robes so off I went to reception. Sadly, there were no feet pillows available as they hadn’t arrived from “the company”. My second visit to reception was to enquire about face cloths. You need these if there is only liquid soap (go on, try washing your body this way without a flannel).
These were not provided because “people take them”. I don’t doubt this for a minute, but at least put a cake of soap in the bathroom (luckily I travel with my own, in case of this very eventuality). This morning I came across an article about a hotel group which printed “stolen from XYZ” on its little bottles of toiletries, as a joke (because we all know the cost is built into the room rate; looting the unattended housekeeping cart in the passage is not cool). Unfortunately, some thieves took offence. Further to that was the news that hotel groups will phase out miniature bottles in favour of large ones, to reduce plastic usage – and that I salute.
If you travel frequently you’ll already know about the dangers of the kettle, but something we overlook is the remote controls. Not L’Avenir. These are cleaned and hygienically packaged and placed on the bedside table.
The lodge has a comfortable lounge with a fireplace, and breakfast is served in the dining room or on the deck.If you’re feeling energetic, there are hiking and mountain bike trails, but if your activity has to include being able to hold a glass of wine at the same time, have a game of boules. It’s tres civilised. There’s a patchwork #notmycat too, but it keeps its distance.
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PHOTO CREDIT: BIANCA COLEMAN ©
While we were in Stellies, we went to the Fine Wine & Food Festival in the Town Hall. It was fabulous, and you can see some gorgeous photos here. Stellenbosch Wine Routes did a fabulous job, and also organised a new winter event this year, similar to the popular summer Stellenbosch Street Soireés, with all the elements of the traditional street fête but hosted indoors. The last Stadsaal Soireé is on August 14 (Town Hall), from 6pm till 8pm.
Some of Stellenbosch’s most popular wine brands like Jordan Wine Estate, Thelema Mountain Vineyards, Villiera Wine Estate, Lanzerac Wines, Simonsig Estate, Haskell Vineyards and L’Avenir Wine Estate will offer tastings of their wine, alongside delicious fare by Joostenberg Bistro/Deli, Turk Spirit, Neethlingshof Restaurant, Biltong & Brew among others. In keeping with the energy associated with these soireés, festival attendees can also look forward to music by The Kink.
Tickets will be sold exclusively at the door at R150 per person, which includes a glass and twelve wine tasting tokens. Food by local restaurants and vendors priced separately. For more information visit the Stellenbosch Stadsaal Soiree Facebook page or contact the Stellenbosch Wine Routes office on 021 886 4310.