Vergelegen wine estate is one of the most historic estates in the Western Cape. It also has a magnificent manor house fronted by enormous camphor trees. This Somerset West wine estate has won numerous international awards for its quality wines.

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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.

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