The locals’ guide to an ultimate Simonsberg getaway

Posted on 1 February 2018

Northern Stellenbosch is home to the Bottelary Hills Conservancy (founded in 1992), the Simonsberg Conservancy (founded in 2004) and the newer Banhoek Conservancy just south, created four years ago.

Thanks to the like-minded wine farmers around here, alien vegetation is being cleared and fynbos replanted, heralding the return of apex predators such as leopards as well as ‘some amazing diversity in the fynbos that is coming back’. Villiera was the first and biggest adopter of solar energy in the winelands, and many have followed.


The locals

Rose Jordaan of Bartinney, Quinton Miller of Boschendal; Reg Holder of Delheim; Tyrrel Myburg of Joostenberg; Cathy Brewer of Villiera and Simon Back of Backsberg.


What’s new?

Joostenberg opened its new tasting room in September, with live music events every month. The new Heritage Rose Garden at Boschendal is the largest in the Southern Hemisphere, boasting over 3000 different roses. ‘We hope it will be a great venue for picnics, tastings and high teas,’ says Quinton.


1. Find the best views

Hillcrest Berry Orchards (0218851629) has great views of Botmaskop ‘and lovely berry smoothies,’ says Rose. For 360-degree views, go to the Villiera Wildlife Sanctuary. From the middle of it, you can see the Bottelary Hills, the mountains of Paarl, Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Somerset West and Durbanville, and even Table Mountain.

Photo supplied by Villiera.


2. Dive into nature

Villiera Wildlife Sanctuary protects 220 hectares of indigenous flora and fauna. ‘During a wildlife drive, you see sustainability at work: the Owethu clinic, solar-powered cellar, Pebbles Project, the indigenous tree-planting project (100000 planted to date), vineyards and rainwater-harvesting system,’ says Cathy. R220 per adult, R110 per child (0218652002). Reg says he loves visiting Jonkershoek Nature Reserve (R40 entry fee, 0218661560): ‘Preferably on a mountain bike, followed by a coffee at the Postcard Café at Stark-Condé.’ 0218617703


3. Hike or bike

‘We’ve built hiking, trail-running and MTB paths through private land so that people can share our beautiful valley,’ says Rose, of the Banhoek Conservancy. A day permit (R50) allows you o explore over 70 kilometres of trails. 0833255840.

The Delheim-Muratie trails also offer amazing biking and spectacular views, especially from the Never Ending MTB Trail (0218884600). ‘Our sister property, Delvera, has the Dirtopia MTB and hiking trails,’ says Reg, ‘including the very popular full moon hike up Klapmutskop.’ R100 per person, picnic R80 per person. 0218844752

Photo supplied by Delheim.


4. Drink sundowner

‘Bartinney’s Tasting Shed is a great sunset spot,’ says Quinton. It has superb views of the valley and Simonsberg mountain, and live music with the food and wine on Friday nights. 0218851013

Bartinney’s Tasting Shed. Photo supplied.


5. Amble and eat

‘The Boschendal farm-to-table dining experience is out of this world, as you get to walk around the vegetable gardens,’ says Rose. 0218704207

The vegetable garden at Boschendal. Photo supplied.


6. Experience village life

‘Pniel offers curated historic tours around what is the oldest freed-slave town in South Africa,’ says Rose. Quinton adds that locals here sell ‘wonderful’ handmade crafts. 0218851500

The largest building in town, Pniel Congregational Church, is dwarfed by the Simonsberg behind it. Image by Teagan Cunniffe.


7. Eat here

• Rose highly recommends the ‘sensational’ Franco-Japanese fish starter at Tokara Restaurant (0218852550), Delaire Graff Restaurant’s ‘out-of-this-world’ fish and chips (0218858160), the delicious slow-cooked lamb at The Werf at Boschendal (0218704207) and ‘outstanding’ lamb burgers at Le Pommier (0218851269).
• Reg’s favourite dish at Delheim’s Garden Restaurant (0218884607) is the springbok loin made with a wine-infused rub including herbs such as buchu and cloves ‘which take the flavour to the next level’. The chef also has access to ‘edible delights foraged from our forest on the farm’.
Klein Joostenberg Bistro (0218844208) is known for its delicious, great-value, three-course Sunday lunches, as well as great coffee (including a ‘latte in a large bowl’).
The Table at De Meye (0726960530) serves lunches made with home-grown or locally sourced produce. ‘My favourite meal? Whatever the three-course of the day is! It’s always good,’ says Cathy.
• Simon likes the steak salad at Backsberg Restaurant (0218755952). ‘Our chef works with suppliers who operate sustainably, and this reflects in each of his dishes.’ Simon also enjoys venturing a little further afield to Noop (0218633925) in Paarl: ‘Their mushroom risotto is legendary.’

Delheim’s Garden Restaurant. Photo supplied.


Events to look out for

• Bartinney2Bartinney trail run in May plus Bartinney’s new Shadow Run (February 2018) that will follow the sun’s setting shadows from the farm down the mountain to the Stellenbosch Wine Festival.
• Backsberg is known for its summer picnic concerts and introduced Brandy & Blues Evenings this past winter – a lovely complement to Delheim’s famous Jazz & Cheese Fondues on Sundays in winter.
• At the Boschendal Farm Festival (March/April) people ‘enjoy delicious food, listen to talks and have picnics that turn into dinner,’ says Quinton. There is also a long table of 250 guests every Braai Day (September).


Also read:
13 wine stays worth dreaming about this summer
21 of the best pre-ordered picnics in the Cape Winelands
5 of the best summer harvest festivals in the Winelands


This story first appeared in November 2017 issue of Getaway magazine.

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