The name itself means ‘far away’ – and, at the furthest reaches of Somerset West, it most certainly requires a significant drive out from the Cape Town CBD. What the trip does reward visitors with, though, is the opportunity to taste some of South Africa’s great wines, enjoy the exquisite gardens and (with advance booking) sample fare from the Camphors at Vergelegen restaurant – a regular contender for the title of the country’s best.
Since the estate is so sprawling, it’s a popular site for visits by those without even a passing interest in wine – dog walkers, flora aficionados, twitchers and concert-goers. As a result, entry is charged at R10 per car – something of an anathema in the Cape, but an understandable surcharge.
The estate also claimed the title of ‘Africa’s Top Winery’ in the 2019 World’s Best Vineyard awards, coming in at 34th overall amongst a crop of 1 500 wineries in 17 countries. And the experience certainly lives up to the hype, with a warm welcome at the Wine Tasting Centre the entry point to being led through the range of award-winning wines by the knowledgeable wine advisors. The foyer is dominated by large-scale artworks and the patio overlooks the estate’s circa-1700 octagonal garden, while the interior includes several plush seating options, scattered tables, or stools along a beautiful bar.
There are five tasting options – the Flagship Range (R100) which includes the storied GVB Red and White, and the signature ‘V’; a Bordeaux-driven tasting of four wines in the Reserve Range (R50); a mixed tasting of the Reserve Range (R50); the Vineyard Range tasting of 3 wines at R80; a Premium tasting of 4 wines for R30 and a single tasting of the estate’s Dessert Wine for R10. The estate’s output is focussed, meaning there isn’t a lot of variety – but there’s certainly something to be said for zeroing in on what you know, and doing it well. The wines regularly win international acclaim and the 2016 GVB White is widely regarded as one of the finest white wines of its vintage, in the world.
There’s also the option of a tour of the futuristic, multi-level gravity flow cellar, with bookings advised to avoid disappointment and attracting a fee of R50. While children are welcome in the Tasting Centre and the gardens, they won’t be able to join in on the cellar tour for health & safety reasons. The 70 stairs that allow access to the different levels also make it relatively inaccessible to visitors who may have mobility limitations.
if you’re visiting during Spring or Summer, pre-book a picnic and a bottle of wine and make the most of the beautiful gardens with a lunch in the heart of some of the Cape’s most spectacularly landscaped flora.
Off the M168,