Did you know?
Queen Elizabeth II and Nelson Mandela are among those who have visited Vergelegen Wine Estate
‘I saw this place with exceptional pleasure, since everything there was laid out wonderfully finely,' wrote Reverend Francois Valentijn in 1700.
Valentijn was commenting on Vergelegen, meaning ‘situated far away', after it had been acquired and developed by the son of Simon van der Stel, Willem Adriaan, who was then governor of the Cape.
The Cape Dutch house was so big and opulent that it incurred the wrath of the Free Burghers of the colony, leading to the recall of the governor to Holland in 1708.
What so impressed the priest about this Somerset West wine estate was that the uncultivated land had rapidly been transformed by extensive planting of vineyards, fruit orchards, and majestic Chinese camphor and oak trees.
Five of the camphor trees at the entrance to the manor house at Vergelegen wine estate have been documented as the oldest living trees on the sub-continent and were declared a national monument in 1942.
When purchased by Anglo American Farms in 1987, the mansion at this estate in the Somerset West winelands was extensively refurbished and decorated with early Cape furniture that told of its 300-year existence.
The magnificent gardens have also been restored. There are the heady perfumes from the Rose Garden, brilliant colours of the North Garden and scents of the Margaret Roberts Herb Garden.
Since 1994 the estate, as befits its reputation, has been visited by the likes of Queen Elizabeth II, Nelson Mandela and Hillary Clinton.
And then there are the wines. The flagship Bordeaux-style red has twice won the prestigious Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de la Lande trophy at the International Wine and Spirits Competition. The estate has also twice won the annual Best of Wine Tourism Award.
The estate also prides itself on its conservation initiatives including alien clearance, participating in a leopard monitoring project with the Cape Leopard Trust and breeding bontebok which were once at risk of extinction.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Vergelegen Wine Estate
Tel: +27 (0)21 847 1608
How to get here
The farm is in Lourensford Road on the outskirts of Somerset West which is just off the N2. Turn into Lourensford Road off the town's Main Road and drive for about 3,5km to the turnoff.
Best time to visit
Any time of year is good although winter can be rather wet.
Tours to do
The estate offers several fun events such as the Sunset Environmental Safari Tour, a Sunset Vineyard Tour and Adventurous Dining. Pre-booking essential.
Length of stay
A half to full day is perfect.
What to pack
Comfortable clothes and walking shoes. In summer, it can be very hot so dress accordingly. Winters are chilly and wet, so warm clothes and a raincoat are advisable.
Where to stay
Cape Town and Somerset West have numerous quality establishments from budget B&Bs to award-winning hotels.
What to eat
The Lady Phillips Restaurant, on the grounds of the Vergelegen Wine Estate, is excellent and they also offer picnic baskets to be enjoyed under the historic camphor trees.
There are regular special events at Vergelegen Wine Estate, so visit their website for regular updates.
The estate's wine, of course.