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Vergelegen Wine Estate in Somerset West

Listed under Wine Regions in Cape Town, South Africa.

  • Photo of Vergelegen Wine Estate in Somerset West
  • Photo of Vergelegen Wine Estate in Somerset West
  • Photo of Vergelegen Wine Estate in Somerset West
  • Photo of Vergelegen Wine Estate in Somerset West
  • Photo of Vergelegen Wine Estate in Somerset West
  • Photo of Vergelegen Wine Estate in Somerset West
Photo of Vergelegen Wine Estate in Somerset West
Photo by Donna Dawson
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Vergelegen Wine Estate in Somerset West where we enjoyed these beautiful gardens and afterwards a wine tasting. It was such a bright day here it was hard to see let alone take good pictures, but at least you have some idea of the joy and beauty that lies ahead as you stroll through these exquisite gardens.

Every varietal is grown here but Pinotage (cinsaut and Pinot noir) specifically. With red grape wines, the new world style wine is to be drunk asap and the old world wines can be aged. Vergelegen is the 8th largest producer of wine in the world. The word Vergelegen means a place far away. It is full of historic trees and gardens. Richard our guide delighted us with stories about the gardens…it was hard to leave. The restaurant used to be the horse stables. Vegetables are picked by the chefs daily for meals. Anglo American now owns the property and they are sparing no expense in its upkeep or facilities. They are very heavy into mining and agriculture. The walled garden used to be a fort we learned…now it is full of roses with such sweet fragrance, huge old trees and lovely cape coral trees at its entrance gate. The height of the wall was determined by how high a lion could jump. There are 200 year old camphor trees here, each worthy of standing in front of and admiration. The camellias here are also note worthy as this is a collection and garden of excellence. There are only 17 of these gardens in the world.

Behind the walled garden are camphors that are 312 years old and protected so that no one can walk on the soil. Wow, they were so regal and happy there. The camphor forest that we walked through was filled with the babies of these ‘Big 5’. Nature planted the 400 year old Podacarpus tree we are looking at with the hole in it. The oldest living oak tree in SA is planted here – 312 years old. The winery was established in the 1700’s and Anglo bought the property in 1987. It was divided into 4 distinct farms with Lourensford being one of them.

Since 1700 and to this day, Vergelegen (meaning "situated far away"), has been crafted by some of the world's great explorers and visionaries, who each in their own way have helped shape Vergelegen to what it is today: a world-class Estate. With its world renowned handcrafted wines, 310 year old history and heritage, exquisite gardens and refined cuisine, it comes as no surprise that Vergelegen continues to be the choice of the discerning visitor seeking a total sensory experience. For this reason, the Estate has borne witness to many visits of heads of state and celebrities from all over the world.

Vergelegen has been a gardener's paradise since the van der Stel era in the 1700's and today 17 exquisitely themed gardens are on display for visitors to enjoy.

Other than being a farmer, the founder of Vergelegen, Willem Adriaan van der Stel, was also a botanist, a forester and a horticulturist. He wrote "The African Gardeners' and Agriculturists Calendar' of which much is still relevant to this day. The oldest oak tree in South Africa, the ancient White Mulberry tree and of course the five camphor trees gracing the front of the Homestead all bear testimony to his great horticultural talent. After purchasing Vergelegen in 1987, Anglo American Farms Ltd restored the gardens and grounds in the Estate's historic core, based on the concept of retaining the best from all periods. The historic core, approximately 60 ha in extent, includes the Octagonal Garden, the surrounding gardens and lawns, oak parklands and oak plantation, camphor forest and open pastures. At no point is the garden visible in its entirety. Landscape architect, the late Ian Ford, developed a theme of generous and intimate garden areas, contrasting the simple with the bold, the formal of the gardens with the informal of grasses and woodlands. Resident horticulturist Richard Arm and his team continue to manicure these exquisite gardens and grounds, ensuring that each season brings new delights for visitors to the Estate. The octagonal design of the winery reflects that of the octagonal walled garden laid out by Willem Adriaan van der Stel in 1700. Of the four levels, only one level (harvest plaza and visitor level) is visible above the ground. The other three working levels (red wine fermentation platform, main tank floor with bottling room and the barrel cellar) lie buried 11 meters under the ground in a tower configuration that allows for gravitational flow and gentle handling.

Written by  Donna Dawson.

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