What’s new at Vergenoegd Wine Estate
Vergenoegd Wine Estate has been a part of the Stellenbosch wine community for a long time – since 1696 to be exact. In its 320 years it has been both privately and family owned and 2015 marked a new era, as the estate was taken over by investment group Livia. As often happens, new ownership has seen new life breathed into the once quiet estate, and the offerings now range from food and wine, to unique blending experiences and the famed runner duck parade.
Part of the latest evolution has been in the kitchen, with head chef Ryan Shell (ex Haute Cabrière) who has brought new energy to the culinary offering. Over the course of February and March the estate offered harvest lunches, which celebrated the abundance of the harvest season with a family-style lunch. On the day we visited the weather decided not to play ball, but this didn’t put a dampener on the day at all. In fact, we think it made for a rather cosy day in instead. The harvest lunch, which usually served on the lawn, was instead moved inside the barrel cellar. The long table was cosily set up amongst wine barrels and was beautifully decorated in a harvest theme.
Ryan and his team did not disappoint, with boards of food being sent out from the kitchen from the get go. Generous platters were laid down, and the communal style of serving and eating helps break the ice with other diners. The whole experience is jovial, with a lavish spread that is positively mouth-watering.
We dined on fabulous homemade breads with a crisp Caesar salad to start. After this, mountains of food arrived, served rustic-style on wooden boards and in cast iron pans – chef Ryan and the kitchen team help serve the meal and interact with guests. Dishes included confit duck (no not the ducks from the parade!), juicy roast pork, short crust mushroom pie, oven-roasted butternut, potato dauphinoise, pickled fish and more. We tucked into everything with relish and just loved the laid back, friendly style of service.
For dessert, a freshly baked brownie was presented, along with a sublime orange curd and whipped cream. The best part of family-style dining, is that if you have the space, you can keep indulging to your hearts content – quite dangerous when it comes to a tray of brownies.
As if this wasn’t enough, the dessert course was followed by a final cheese course. Phyllo-wrapped soft cheeses had been oven baked and oozed their creamy centres when cut. These were enjoyed with a sweet onion jam.
As the harvest lunches have been unique for this time period, they will be replaced with a new winter offering, but this is no reason to be disappointed. Instead, look forward to an exciting new offering that will no doubt be just as delicious. Book a Family Table at R275 pp for a 3-course lunch menu (excl. wine). For larger groups (10-20 pax) there is the option of booking in the Barrel Cellar. It’s a family day out, so bring the kids – ages 10-15 R180 pp and little ones under 10 can enjoy the Duckling Delight at R125 pp including a surprise activity.
As the current weather seems to have sent winter marching off in the opposite direction, you can still opt to book a picnic at Vergenoegd. The baskets, put together by Ryan and his team, include a whole bunch of delectable goodies including breads, cheeses, meats and preserves. You can enjoy out in the gardens in front of the manor house.
If the weather isn’t being agreeable, Vergenoed offers four unique blending experiences that will keep you entertained. Get involved and blend your own brand of wine, coffee, tea and olive oil. Make for yourself, or as a gift – you can’t get more personalised than that!
Don’t leave the estate without seeing the runner duck parade; everyone from kids to pensioners will enjoy the spectacle. Depending on the time of year, there are between 700-900 Indian runner ducks that work on the farm to keep the vineyards free from bugs and pests, allowing the grapes to be grown with minimal intervention. The ducks live a charmed life foraging for bugs and snails and then modelling their good looks for all to see.
Vergenoed has seen a lot of changes in recent months, but as Nicole Arnold, Marketing Manager for the estate told us, much more is afoot. To keep up to date with what’s on the go, be sure to visit their website and follow on social media.