Drinking in the glorious cape: The historic winelands of South Africa are perfect for art lovers
- South Africa's winelands are set between Franschhoek and Stellenbosch?
- But as well as red wine, art lovers are flocking to the South African region?
- Hotels are tapping into the trend, organising art tours of the city of Cape Town?
Vineyards in the shadow of the Drakensberg mountains in the Cape winelands?
I was woken at 6am by the trill of Cape weavers, busily building their nest. I put another log on the fire, and opened the window. Outside my cottage, a beautifully converted farmhand’s home, the sun was bathing Klein Drakensberg, the ‘Little Dragon’ mountains, in deep pink. The scene could not have been lovelier.
I was at Babylonstoren, a boutique hotel and winery in landscaped farmland surrounding eight acres of formal gardens. Set within the triangle of Paarl, Franschhoek and Stellenbosch, this was my introduction to the historic Cape Winelands.
I could happily have hunkered down for a week, exploring the estate, dining on chef Cornelle Minie’s eccentric, farm-fresh culinary delights (mushroom panna cotta with pancetta crisp..? Delicious!) and sipping their red wine.
Babylonstoren – ‘Tower of Babel’ – was named by the biblically minded Dutch after a rocky outcrop in the grounds. They created the farm in 1692, 13 years after Simon van der Stel, first Governor of the Cape, founded Stellenbosch, which still rejoices in 18th Century Cape Dutch architecture, with its thick whitewashed walls, as well as Georgian and Victorian buildings.
This was my next port of call, for lunch at the spectacular Delaire Graff Estate, its attention-grabbing design in stark contrast with the nonchalant elegance of Babylonstoren.?
But Delaire Graff is more than a mere magnet for lovers of fine dining and wines: the property of Laurence Graff, it is a showcase for the famous English jeweller’s collection of contemporary South African art. My trip was designed to explore these twin peaks of art and wine – good bedfellows in the Cape’s fancier hotels.
A mere 30 miles away, in Cape Town, I visited Ellerman House, an Edwardian mansion whose views over Bantry Bay are among the most beautiful in the area.?
But turn your gaze inward and you find a gallery of artworks collected by the hotel’s owner, Paul Harris, that chronicle South Africa’s social and cultural shifts over the past 150 years.?
The funky colourful houses in Cape Town.?Many hotels are tapping into the trend of contemporary art
Contemporary works extend into the futuristic Wine Gallery, where spiral fibreglass racks contain some 70,000 bottles of the best local vintages.
Many hotels are tapping into the trend, organising art tours of the city. And key to this is MOCAA, the Museum of Contemporary African Art, which recently opened its doors amid much fanfare.
Fashioned from a 1920s grain store, with great concrete silos creating a massive atrium at its heart, it represents a ground-breaking development for African art.
With 24 million visitors a year, the V&A Waterfront, where the museum stands, is one of the most popular tourist sites on the continent. The gleaming new MOCAA is sure to send those figures soaring.
GETTING THERE... ?
Kirker Holidays (kirker holidays.com) offers tailor-made holidays to South Africa from ￡2,180pp for seven nights’ B&B in Cape Town and Stellenbosch, with flights and transfers. For more information, go to southafrica.net.?
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