It can be tricky planning a getaway in the middle of the Cape winter season and for our family somewhere cosy with an indoor fireplace is a non-negotiable! Our winter getaway to Oude Denneboom in the Paarl winelands was an absolute winner and ticked all the boxes for a snug winter break.
From the minute we turned into the Oude Denneboom gates we knew we were in for a fantastic few days. The farm, which produces wine and olives, is in a beautiful location in the Voor-Paardeberg area of Paarl – easily reached from the N1 and less than an hour from Cape Town. We picked up our keys from the reception office – were you can also stock up on the estates’ olive oil, wines and other goodies, and even grab a cup of coffee – before meandering through the rows of vines and onto the private game reserve section of the farm where our cottage was waiting.
Owners Willem and Elizabeth have done a superb job of restoring two beautiful farm cottages – keeping the authenticity of the original cottages while adding luxurious and modern touches to create 4-star accommodation. Shepherd’s Cottage, where we were to stay, dates as far back as the 1800’s and sits alongside an old wagon track that once traversed the area en-route to Paardenberg.
Arriving on a cold and wet day we were thrilled to discover two very cosy and beautifully decorated bedrooms complete with luxurious linen and heating. Both bedrooms are en-suite with the master bedroom having a super spacious bathroom with huge shower and bath, and the twin bedroom having a smaller bathroom with a fabulous shower. Gorgeous quilts and loads of extra blankets were stacked in the cupboards should they be needed.
The open plan lounge and dining room is spacious with comfy leather couches and chairs arranged in front of the fireplace and a 6-seater dining room table. The kitchen was fully equipped with everything you need for a very comfortable self-catering stay – plenty of crockery and cutlery, wine glasses, pots and pans, coffee plunger – and even a dishwasher! Loads of lovely touches such as plenty of firewood, candles, interesting books on birds and wildlife and a Bluetooth sound system make you feel right at home.
After a little walkabout to explore our surroundings we got straight to making a roaring fire and settled down with our books, board games and a bottle of the highly acclaimed Oude Denneboom Black Harrier Shiraz. This was just the kind of getaway we had been hoping for - with only the sounds of the crackling fire and the rustling trees - it got very stormy later that night! After dinner there was loads of laughter as we played a few hilarious rounds of Balderdash and Uno - the perfect winter’s night!
The next day we set out to explore a little of the surrounding area and discovered that there is plenty to see and do, all within a 15 or 20-minute drive of Oude Denneboom. We popped in at the Spice Route and sampled some of the decadent single origin chocolates at De Villiers Chocolates, and despite the cold weather were persuaded by our girls to try some ice-cream at the DV Café. We had been looking forward to lunch at Under Oaks Pizzeria – but hadn’t realized that they were closed on Tuesdays in winter. We had a little look around the picturesque Under Oaks wine estate and will definitely be returning here on a summer’s day!
Fairview, Rheebokskloof, Nelsons Creek and many other wine estates are literally right on your doorstep. Or you can pop to Paarl, play a round of golf, hike Paarl Rock or take a drive to Wellington which is just 12km’s away. Basically, at Oude Denneboom you’re in an excellent position to explore all of Paarl and its surrounds. Or, you could just not leave the farm at all … Seeing as the day was turning drizzly and grey we choose to head back to our cottage to spend a cosy afternoon in front of the fire.
Shepherd’s Cottage and Stable Cottage are both located within an enclosed private game reserve on the farm where zebra, springbok, eland and blue wildebeest graze freely around the cottages. There is also an enormous diversity of small wildlife and birdlife – and between bird watching and the various game our girls were literally kept entertained for hours watching, walking and exploring. Guests are free to roam the farm, walk and bike amongst the vineyards or simply relax on the stoep of the cottage soaking up the mountain vistas.
For summer visitors there is a fantastic plunge pool on the front stoep and a sheltered braai area complete with seating for long summer evenings. We are absolutely visiting again in summer to make the most of that pool!
Within sight (but far enough away for complete privacy!) is Stable Cottage which is slightly smaller, but with a similar design and feel to Shepherd’s Cottage and also has its own plunge pool. For two families or a group of friends wanting a holiday away together, this would be the perfect set-up with loads of space and privacy.
There is more accommodation to choose from with the Vineyard Cottages and Vineyard Loft on a different section of the farm. These semi-detached cottages are newly renovated and more modern with gorgeous views of the vineyards and olive groves and a shared swimming pool. Each sleeps four guests in two bedrooms with an indoor fireplace and an outdoor braai area.
We were not leaving Paarl without visiting the alpaca’s at the Alpaca Loom Coffee Shop & Weaving Studio. This was somewhere our girls had been desperate to visit ever since hearing about it. After a rainy first day, we managed a visit on our second day and it was loads of fun. Visitors can purchase a tub of food and hand feed the alpaca’s … but be warned – they can be cheeky! And, taking a ‘selfie’ with an alpaca is more difficult than you might think! If you visit at 11am, 1pm or 3pm you can join an informative barn tour. We were happy to wander around and spent ages watching the babies – called crias – chasing each other, running in circles and generally being very amusing! You can also pop into the studio and watch the weavers at work, buy some alpaca wool products and enjoy a meal in the coffee shop. Well worth a visit!
We really had the most wonderful stay at Oude Denneboom and can highly recommend it. Not only is the accommodation excellent and the surroundings beautiful – but the staff and owners are genuinely helpful and friendly and go out of their way to make their guests feel welcome. We are already planning a return visit with some friends!