Babylonstoren seems like a recent addition to the Cape winelands, but the farm actually dates back to 1692 and is one of the area’s oldest fruit farms.
It’s developed into something of a destination over the last decade or so, thanks to a revitalisation under former magazine editor Karen Roos.
Under less thoughtful curatorship, it could easily have become a caricature of itself, with the addition of a hotel, two restaurants, heavily-Instagrammed gardens, spa and retail options. Fortunately, the additions to the historic fruit and wine offering have only served to enhance the experience, with more than a touch of style bringing the property into the 21st century.
While many of the original buildings – including the circa 1777 Manor House and the older wheat store, cellar, fowl house, dovecote, bell tower and gates – remain, there are plenty of modern steel and glass additions that somehow blend into the existing structures. The overall impression is one of thick, whitewashed stone walls, with ornate gables and thatched roofs – but if you look carefully, you’ll find plenty of modern touches too.
One such slick addition is the Tasting Room. An earthy building with a high-pitched ceiling is the entry point, but a walk up an accessible ramp, past displays detailing the farm’s history leads to the glass box which houses the tasting area. The stylish space is decorated in fresh greens and warm woods and dominated by a central bar area, lined with symmetrical displays of tasting glasses and the estate’s wines.
Service is efficient and knowledgeable, with guests given plenty of opportunity to actually enjoy the pours of the estate’s various wines, rather than being rushed through the experience. The Standard Tasting costs R60 and includes 6 wines from the Babylonstoren range, with tastings of the flagship Chardonnay, Nebukadnesar blend and Sprankel MCC (bubbly) attracting additional fees of R20, R30 and R40, respectively. There’s also an Express Tasting of the Chenin Blanc, Mourvedre Rosé and Babel Red for R30. Sharing Platters for Two are available for order, to back the tasting – or extend it.
The wines are certainly unique – particularly the Mourvedre Rosé – and the flagships are weighty. Their popularity and potential are on the rise, to the extent that the cellar struggles to keep up with demand – and certain wines may not be available for tasting during your visit.
The Tasting Room is open daily, from 10:00 to 17:00 in winter and 10:00 to 18:00 in summer.
Set aside some proper time to explore all that Babylonstoren has to offer. It’s definitely worth booking lunch at Babel or The Greenhouse and taking a wander through the incredibly manicured gardens, after.
R10 entry fee to access the farm.
Klapmuts Simondium Road,
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