Did you know that the biggest tree in South Africa has just been recorded at Boschendal Estate? You may be thinking, that can’t possibly be true, but in terms of a calculation of girth, height and crown, it comes out on top. This is probably one of many things that you didn’t know about Boschendal, and uncovering this, and other secrets of the estate, is a fascinating exploration.
Boschendal celebrates its milestone 330th birthday this year; it is one of the oldest estates in the Cape and is positively saturated with history. If the grounds of Boschendal could talk they would narrate centuries of stories of bygone days – of Khoisan that roamed the grounds long before the Cape was colonised. Of French Huguenot Jean le Long, who gave the farm its name Bossendaal (forest and vale). There would be reflections of the de Villiers family who bought the farm in 1715 and erected the manor house. A shudder at the memory of the devastating phylloxera plague that wiped out vineyards, and a sigh of relief at the recollection of Cecil John Rhodes, who removed the vines and replaced them with fruit trees, which ultimately saved the farm, when so many others quavered under the threat.
Fast-forward to the present day and Boschendal continues on its journey of evolution as changes and improvements bring the farm into the 21st century. Recently bought by new owners – custodians who recognise the need to simultaneously preserve the farm’s historical roots, while also propelling it into a new, modern era. The methodology behind the approach is to ‘do well to do good’, and this is evident across the farm.
Boschendal offers activities that emphasise a farm-style existence and take visitors to the roots of the life in the valley. Wandering down the main, tree-lined lane one already feels transported – the old oaks that shade this central area are deeply rooted and although are bare at the moment, signs of spring buds are just starting to show. Once in full bloom they will be breathtaking.
Just to the left of this is the ‘kitchen garden’ – this is by no means a small patch of veggies, this is a vast, complex and meticulously designed garden that supplies The Werf restaurant and the onsite deli, and produce is also sold to the public. Walking through the gardens you may meet some of the free-range, egg-laying hens as they nibble on grubs in the nutrient rich soil.
Visitors have the choice of eating at The Werf, a strikingly designed restaurant that serves gourmet, country-style food, and is headed up by Executive Chef Christiaan Campbell. Alternatively, the beautifully revamped Farmshop & Deli, offers breakfast, light meals and sweet treats. The smell of freshly baked bread wafts down from the bakery just a few doors up; baked goods stock the shelves of the deli and appear on the menu as well.
Beautiful cuts of meat are also available in the deli fridges, which are from the artisan butchery onsite (neighbour to the bakery). Boschendal has a herd of Angus cattle that roam free and keep the grass of several of the adjacent farm fields neatly trimmed. The meat is hormone-free and ethically reared.
The wine tasting room is located next door; tables are placed under the oaks, kokedamas hang suspended from the trees, and the environment is laid back and unflustered. There are a number of wine and MCC tastings to try, which take visitors through the extensive range of wines on offer. The MCC tasting paired with chocolate is an indulgent treat that shouldn’t be missed.
While sipping on a glass of wine, guests may see two very important members of the Boschendal team strolling by – Mufasa, a Percheron and Mr Parker, a Clydesdale, are the farm’s resident horses. Boschendal offers a horse-drawn carriage wine tasting experience and Mufasa and Mr Parker do the honours. Boschendal’s (human) team of enthusiastic wine guides can also take you up to an incredible viewpoint that overlooks the valley and the farm. The sheer size of the property can be appreciated from this vantage point and it really is quite astounding.
For the more adventurous, there are plenty of activities to keep one busy. Avid mountain bikers will be thrilled to know of the new single track courses that have been designed onsite. With names like Hi Ho Silver and the Den of Porcupines they are sure to be entertaining. The farm provides shower facilities, so riders can enjoy a challenging early morning ride, followed by a cup of Tribe coffee and breakfast at the deli. There are plans for other events such as evening time trials and the Ride and Roast event, which is coming up for Heritage Day this September. There are also walking and hiking trails which explore the natural flora of the area. For a calmer activity, enjoy a wander through the Heritage rose garden that will be in full bloom glory towards November, or tour the Manor House, which has been restored to its original beauty.
To really explore the depth and breadth of what Boschendal offers will take more than a day, and to bring the experience full circle would be to stay over at the onsite accommodation. Original farmworker’s cottages have been renovated into modern, farm-style lodgings. Stylishly decorated, they offer the ideal spot from which to explore the valley whether traveling as a singleton, a couple or as a family.
Boschendal is undergoing a massive transformation, and what is very obvious is the passion of the people behind it. Some of the team members at the farm have worked there for many years, and cross more than one generation. This keeps the property firmly grounded, preserving its legacy, while the new owners bring to it a fresh outlook and modern-day philosophies.
There are many other exciting new activities that will be happening at the estate in the near future – a spa, more accommodation options, pop-up dining experiences, music concerts, a champagne bar and so much more. To keep up to speed with all the activities visit Boschendal’s website or follow them on Facebook or Twitter.