At its zenith? As Zevenwacht wines sparkle, the farm plans a new attraction and re-invigorates existing venues.
Let’s start with Zevenwacht wines: Not only has the the number of ranges expanded over the decades, but the quality has zoomed up to match. Winemaker Jacques Viljoen is talented, dedicated, yet relaxed, a proven combination as he crafts the easy-drinking 7even wines and the impressive Z collection which includes a highly-rated 2014 Gewurztraminer and the star of the show, the 2014 360 deg sauvignon blanc, a single vineyard winner that attracted gold at two prestigious international contests, the IWC 2015 and the 2016 Concours Mondial du sauvignon.
Then there is the Flagship range, half a dozen quality, enjoyable labels ranging in price from R70 to R89. The chenin is delicious, a great partner for autumn and outdoor fare while the 2014 chardonnay is a four-star classic. The 2015 sauvignon blanc presents fresh green and fruity flavours backed by a pleasing mineral core.
Two delightful wines make up the Tin Mine range – the White and the Red. Both are fine blends that offer exceptionally good value. The white, a firm favourite of mine, is a blend s 45% chardonnay with 31% chenin, 19% viognier, finished with roussanne. It’s lightly wooded, offering discernible minerality alongside fruit and freshness. The Tin Mine red 2013 is shiraz-led with a good dollop of grenache and 15% mourvèdre, a generous, approachable wine that embraces class, length and ageability.
Turning to the hospitality sector, visitors can choose from the comfort of the suites of the Country Inn, or settle for one of the Vineyard cottages. I enjoy the former, where you park your car within a metre of your front door, settle into a spacious air-conditioned room, then open the doors to the terrace. If it’s a clear day the views stretch from False bay to Table bay, with the panorama of the so-called northern suburbs far below.
For groups of visitors, the Chalet is a magnificent choice, a self-catering four-suite house high up on the Bottelary hillside, with panoramic views encompassing cityscape, wineland and mountain backdrop.
The best vista of all is kept for the Spa, a hilltop venue that will be re-opening in August under new operators and renamed Bakwena. There is a chance that these premises may, once again, be available for private function hire.
The charming, compact farmstead, with its 1800 gable, gazes over water ringed by trees, some of which are spectacular in autumn shades right now. This houses the restaurant, open every day for a la carte meals and a buffet breakfast. The farm is perhaps even more famous for its picnics, where diners have a choice of baskets filled with meaty or vegetarian picnic fare, or braai fare and a children’s basket.
An old farm building is being renovated and fitted out as a demo kitchen. Come November this rustic venue will open its doors to visitors for cooking demos in fine Gallic style. Master chef Sidney Bond and his wife Alison, a renowned pastry chef will present hands-on French cooking classes for a few months of the year, between their hectic schedule of hosting Britons, Americans and others to French and African cookery classes at their lovely home in the Loire valley. See www.lecalabash.com. And watch for further announcements!