Drew spent a weekend of luxury at the five-star Aaldering Vineyards & Wines and had an amazing time amongst vineyards and dams, enjoying the best of Stellenbosch. Make sure to book a weekend away at Aaldering.
I've always wondered why Capetonians would choose to go to Stellenbosch for a weekend breakaway. With Table Mountain still looming in the background I wondered if it would actually feel like a true break. Despite this thought, I was very excited to be going to visit the newly opened Aaldering Vineyards & Wines in the Devon Valley. Since opening in November 2013 it has risen to popular acclaim and I was excited to see what all the fuss was about.
An evening commitment meant we could only leave Cape Town after dark, around 8:30pm. Immediately I was grateful for the close proximity of Stellenbosch. A quick burst down the N2 meant we were beyond the city lights and entering the world famous winelands which we are lucky to have right on our back step. When we arrived at Aaldering we were greeted by the genuinely warm and welcoming William who would turn out to be our host for the weekend.
As he showed us our room - one of three on the estate - we were blown away by the luxury and attention to detail. This was not your average self-catering garden cottage on yet another wine farm. The Nespresso machine, complimentary wines and Wifi enabled iPad were just some of the highlights. Furthermore the fully kitted out bathroom complete with Charlotte Rhys hampers reinforced the luxury we were in for. To be honest, I tend to move more in self-catering circles and so my knowledge of 'five-star' hospitality is not extensive, but having said that I have had the odd encounter with a five-star establishment. Even with my limited experience I can tell the term 'five-star' is a sliding scale. Aaldering definitely finds itself firmly on the upper end of that scale.
We had arrived in the height of harvest season. Actually, I can't say if it was the height or not, but it sounds more dramatic to say so. It may have been only the start of the season. I actually don't know. But let's assume it was the height... As we awoke from our slumber we heard the rattle and hum of a working farm in motion. We wandered down to the main hosting area of the estate, overlooking a dam and the Devon Valley. Table Mountain was nowhere to be seen and I felt a lot further away than the mere 50km we were from Cape Town. Breakfast was a feast of Bulgarian yoghurt and honey, croissants and rolls, cold meat and cheese as well as a full cooked breakfast. As we were eating the estate winemaker, Dustin, came to greet us and offered to give us a tour of the winemaking process that was happening a few feet behind us in the cellar.
For the rest of the day we explored Stellenbosch, stopping by the slow food market and then enjoying a great cup of coffee at the Schoon De Companje coffee shop on Church Street in town. The rest of the afternoon was spent watching the cricket in our room, sipping Nespresso's, wandering the estate and greeting the resident cows in a nearby field. That evening we headed back into town to enjoy some quality burgers at Basic Bistro, again in Church Street, before watching the sun set over the hills and sipping the delicious and rare Pinotage Blanc that Aaldering produces.
Sunday arrived far too quickly for our liking. Unfortunately - although not surprisingly - new guests were arriving and we needed to leave by mid morning. We were secretly hoping to stay all afternoon and head back home as late as possible - but alas we couldn't. We made our way back down the N2 feeling relaxed and spoilt. Aaldering Wines had well and truly broken the stigma in my mind that you can't really experience a true get away from Cape Town if you head to Stellenbosch. We'll be back.
To find out more about Aaldering and to book a weekend away, click here.