A Visit to Spier Wine Farm Stellenbosch
In 1692 Governor Simon van der Stel inscribed his name on the first title deed for Spier farm in Stellenbosch. He awarded ownership to one Arnoud Janz, a German soldier serving the Dutch East India Company. This simple act marked the beginning of a story that has unfolded for over 300 years, taking Spier across the pages of the Cape Winelands’ history, from the dark days of slavery, to the heights of award-winning sustainability.
Spier has been a leader as a ‘destination’ wine estate for years – a one-stop-shop to experience the Cape’s wine culture. From the earliest days when it was integral in establishing the Stellenbosch wine route, to more recently offering visitors world-class restaurants, accommodation and entertainment.
However change is afoot at Spier. As Charles Darwin wrote “…in the long history of humankind those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed,” This speaks to the culture of Spier where this spirit is unmistakable. Spier’s current focus is its collaboration with perhaps its most important partner – the earth it is built on. Working in harmony with nature and finding the balance between a successful commercial enterprise and its environment. From the restoration of the original ‘plaas werf’ to Farmer Angus’s pasture reared cattle, hints of this change are already in progress.
A visit to Spier Wine Farm Stellenbosch sees moments of history, merged with modern-day innovations; together it makes for an experience not to be missed.
Follow the Eerste Rivier’s path as it flows through the farm and experience activities along the way that bring the story of the farm to life.
Eagle Encounters at Spier
The immense power and beauty of the birds of prey at this facility will overwhelm visitors. Over 200 birds that have been injured, abused or confiscated are brought in for care every year. They are rehabilitated and over 65% are released back into the wild. Those that have to be hand reared or have suffered grievous injury are nursed back to health and play an important educational role. See falcons, owls, kites and other majestic birds in action daily. Witness a hunting demo which shows their importance in a thriving eco-system and if you’re brave enough an up-close experience that is simply breathtaking.
Wine Tasting at Spier
The tasting room is a modern building overlooking the mirror-like Spier dam. A gentle breeze flows through the open front allowing visitors a cool respite on hotter days. Enjoy a charcuterie pairing, sampling wines with cured meats. Sample wines from the Spier Signature range, Spier Creative Block and 21 Gables and purchase at cellar door prices. Don’t miss the chocolate pairing – bites of divine artisanal chocolate from Chocolate Marionettes in Knysna followed by a sip of wine to enhance the subtle flavours.
Eight-to-Go Farm Deli at Spier
Wine tasting will definitely encourage an appetite. Just a few steps on from the wine tasting room visitors will find Eight Restaurant and Eight To Go Deli and picnic area. The infinitude of the Spier story is perhaps best represented by the name Eight – a symbol showing no end. It is representative of the farm’s long history and its direction towards sustainability, balance and harmony. The food is straight from the farm to the table, favouring ingredients grown on the farm. Try one of the seasonal salads, grass-fed, pasture-reared beef dishes, or afternoon tea of home-baked breads and cakes. On Thursday to Saturday evenings you can also enjoy a tapas and dinner menu in this café-style venue that offers indoor seating, as well as tables outdoors under natural shade.
Eight Restaurant at Spier
If you prefer to soak up the stunning views of the gardens, collect your pre-booked picnic from the deli. Before you head out, take a saunter through the deli where you can add extras like craft beers, cakes or biltong to your basket. Enjoy your picnic spread out on the lime green lawns under the shade of weeping willows. It will be tough not to lie back and to catch a few restful zzz’s on a lazy summer afternoon.
Nature Walks and Segway Tours at Spier
A post-lunch walk will invigorate and shake off any wine or lunch induced haziness. Wander through the indigenous Protea walk on the south bank of the Eerste river where the abundant flowering King Proteas are something to behold.
The hands who harvested the farm’s first grapes in 1700 could never have anticipated that the land they worked would one day be traversed by tourists on two wheels. This is a reality however, as guests can enjoy Segway tours through the vineyards. This 2-wheeled, electrically powered personal transporter gives guests a unique way to enjoy the vast vineyards and learn more about the farming activities.
The development of Spier is conveniently mapped out by the famous Cape Dutch gables seen around the farm. Each proclaims the year of its construction and in total 21 gables mark significant developments in the farms growth. Pop on the headphones of the Gables Audio Tour and take a step back in time 200 years or so, to 1836. See Spier through the eyes of fictionalised slave woman Sannie de Goede, as she guides you through the history of the farm
Arts and Crafts at Spier
For a more detailed history of the farm, join a Heritage Walk which meanders across the farm for approximately 1.5 hours. Step into the 1822 Manor House and South Africa’s oldest dated wine cellar along the way.
Art is almost as much a part of the fabric of Spier as the wine is. Pieces of contemporary art fill the hallways of the Manor house and hotel. Rotated frequently they provide exposure for the artist, showcasing local talent and filling the space with colour and energy. Some pieces can be purchased right off the walls and make a unique holiday memento.
For a more relaxed retail experience visit the Spier craft market. The market is part of the Spier Craft Development Programme, and helps disadvantaged community members by providing a platform to sell their products. This vibrant collection of gifts and keepsakes from over 90 producers will have you browsing for hours.
Stay at Spier
After spending the day navigating across the farm indulging in food, wine, activities and shopping, one will need a place to rest. The hotel at Spier offers guests comfortable and spacious village-style accommodation. Individually decorated rooms or suites with beautiful designer touches. A cluster of six rooms share a private courtyard and swimming pool and are surrounded by the lush gardens of the estate. There is a move towards making the hotel as green as possible, so energy efficient bar fridges and specialty showerheads are featured.
Doze on one of the outdoor daybeds to the sound of the river rushing by, or perhaps order something to sip or snack on from the wine bar and watch the sun set.
To learn more about Spier visit their website at www.spier.co.za