VERGELEN WINE ESTATE
When Willem Adriaan succeeded his father, Simon van der Stel, as governor of the Cape in 1700, it didn’t take long before he claimed a modest 30,000 hectare piece of land for himself just as his father had done in his time at Constantia. It took three days by ox-wagon to reach Willem Adriaan’s farm on the slopes of the Hottentots Holland mountain range overlooking the Atlantic Ocean; hence its name ‘Vergelegen’, meaning ‘situated far away’. Six years after he started planting vines, Willem Adriaan had half a million vine stocks. He laid out fruit orchards and orange groves, planted camphor and oak trees, and established eighteen cattle stations with 1000 cattle and 1800 sheep. Willem Adriaan also built reservoirs and dug irrigation canals. He built himself a beautiful Cape Dutch homestead, added a corn mill and many other subsidiary buildings.
Today we visited the Vergelegen Estate which we learned means “situated far away,” where many visitors from all over the world such as Nelson Mandela, Queen Elizabeth II, and even Bill Clinton come to wine taste. Vergelegen is known for their successful wine production and their award winning gardens. When we first arrived to the beautiful estate we made our way to the wine tasting area. We sat in their chic wine tasting center and had divided the tasting of white and red wine. First we tried the white wine, which included their Sauvernet Blanc that had a great dry yet fruitful taste. My favorite was the award winning Chardonnay that had smooth dry taste with a buttery aftertaste. Along with those we were able to try two other red wines, which included a blend of reds and a stunning Shiraz. Many of us decided to buy wines as souvenirs and many of us ended up drinking them this night. Our group was fortunate enough to tour the Camellia garden and Manor House after the wine tasting. The Camellia Garden and many other gardens are from the vision of the founder Willem Adriaan van der Stel. The Manor House held an extensive collection of books that we had the privilege of exploring with the assistance of our guide. The best part was when we went to the music room that allowed our professor and his daughter to play music on a two hundred year old piano. This is definitely a memory that I will always remember and cherish because not only did we go to one of the most well known wine conservations, but I was able to enjoy this wonderful place with great friends and professors in South Africa.