A low-key (but deservedly on the map) wine farm out on the Joostenberg – one of the earliest farms laid out in the 17th century as evidenced by the original title deed on display, signed by Governor Simon van der Stel in 1692 – is Matjieskuil/Hawksmoor House. This working farm is supplemented by the facilities of guest house, winery and function venue. The very hospitable owners are hands on and give an innovative and entertaining wine-tasting experience of their offerings, which are very palatable and affordable. The history – old and new – is imparted as part of the experience and makes for a delightful day out, not an hour from Cape Town.
Wine-tasting outings are a wonderful way to find places one would never imagine existed, most being situated on little hillsides and in valleys in close proximity to the city and larger towns, but so unobtrusively as to be unnoticed as you fly by on a freeway or nearby arterial road. A few entail a bumpy ride down gravel roads, but nothing requiring a 4×4, and upon reaching these sudden oases in a landscape of dry vegetation and the oppressive heat of the Paarl winelands, the lush surroundings amply irrigated from underground water, one is transported backwards in time. White gables and Cape Dutch architecture, thatched roofs and duck ponds, spreading branches of old oaks and hectares of vines contribute as much to the attraction of the Cape wine routes as the pleasure of tasting the fruits of the labour. This farmhouse, dating back to 1712, retains much of its original character and charm, and the tasting and lunch took place at a long table in the centre, with the doors at front and back open to allow the faintest breeze. A view through the heat haze to Table Mountain reminded us where we were, and also that back in the day one would have been able to see the cannon fired from the slopes of Devil’s Peak to advise of ships arriving in the bay for trade. That would be the signal for the farmer to load up his ox wagon and start the long trek to Table Bay – a few days back then!
A quick tour of the venue revealed a place to be put on the list for any special occasions. Accommodation is available in the original meticulously restored farmhouse where wine tastings and lunches are served and is ideal for an intimate country weekend in historical surroundings. Additional well-appointed accommodation is in adjacent buildings, and the old wine cellar provides the perfect venue for special functions. Hawksmoor offers the opportunity to go back in time and truly be ‘lord of the manor’.
(Wine tastings by appointment firstname.lastname@example.org)