A hidden treasure called Jan Harmsgat Country House

Posted on 25 April 2019

More often than not, the most beautiful destinations are difficult to travel to. Some lie hidden beyond spectacular mountain passes and rough terrain. Others seem a million miles away, out of reach.

Swellendam is not exactly a hop and a skip away from Cape Town. It’s nearly three hours of commitment to being on the road. Roadworks make the journey a little more arduous right now, but it’s a necessary inconvenience to make the route to Swellendam and beyond safer and more comfortable.

For those, like us, who choose to make the effort and travel to this part of the Western Cape Province, the rewards are endless.

We were destined for Jan Harmsgat Country House, a quiet establishment in the Robertson Wine Valley, guarded by the towering Langeberg Mountains.

The farm was founded in 1723 by Johannes Harman Jansz Potgieter, and appears on the grant as Jan Harmansz Schat (treasure). Somehow, through the ages the farm became known as Jan Harmsgat. Honestly, it’s a relief that the name had such sensible origins, because I was beginning to wonder…

Jan Harmsgat is surrounded by the Langeberg Mountains.

We arrived on the darkest of nights, with only the stars to keep us company on the roads, but we woke up to a wonderland bathed in sunlight and dew, made beautiful by rows upon rows of pecan nut trees, manicured lawns and the chirping of what sounded like a million birds.

It seemed like the kind of day to just unwind with a Chardonnay at the pool, and so we did. There were plenty of picnic spots around the property to choose from, but it was obvious that the spots closer to the wine were the best. We heard that Jan Harmsgat’s Cabernet Sauvignon is a thing of beauty, and so we ordered that too, and we concur.

Sip Chardonnay by the poolside and unwind.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner is an elaborate affair at the resident restaurant, Just Amy. One of the many charms is that you never have to leave the grounds to get five-star cuisine. The breakfast menu is filled with decadent options like French toast with caramelized banana and bacon or eggs Benedict.

French toast, bacon and grilled banana goodness.

Lunch and dinner menus serve up what your heart desires, smaller meals for lunch and artistically-plated ones for a candlelit dinner. Wines match the atmosphere – only the best will do.

The original wine cellar and old slave quarters still remain, preserved as a reminder of the farm’s complicated past and more promising, prosperous future. The spectacular pomegranate and pecan nut plantations make this 680-hectare farm all the more special. It employs hundreds of workers seasonally and houses all its permanent staff on the property. Jan Harmsgat supplies the much-sought-after pecans and pomegranates to a number of retailers globally and across the province.

Enjoy a stroll through the pomegranate tree orchard.

What could be more pleasant than seeing black wildebeest, springbok, grey rheebuck and ostriches on a regular tour of the vineyards? The animals are indigenous to the area and come and go as they please, along with smaller creatures and birds aplenty.

Our Executive Suite was spacious and comfortable. With its luxurious black and white bathroom, wooden floors and large porch area, the suite is a nod to the country house’s origins – but with strong wifi signal. Armed with the DStv remote in hand, you’re not abandoning any of the creature comforts you’re used to at home.

The rooms have every home comfort.

But there was no need to escape from these serene surroundings. Quite the opposite; it was time to embrace all of it, from the stillness of valley, apart from the serenading birds, to the sincerity of Jan Harmsgat’s offering as a charming spot off the rebuilt and beaten track, to find yourself once again.

It is a wonderful escape from Cape Town.


Contact: 087 012 5356
Address: R60 Swellendam, South Africa
Website: janharmsgat.com

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