The Ridgelands farm is vacant. The moody sky is slinking over the valley as workers retreat for the weekend and the sounds of nature increase with the darkness. The stark trees are silhouetted against the dusk sky as the stones crunch underneath our tires as we turn into the forecourt. A sense of adventure, warmth and curiosity fill me; it feels like I’m back in England at a beautiful country manor. And I am, except it’s South Africa and this is Elgin Vintners.
Spring Weekends at Elgin Vintners
Elgin Vintners is a manor house now exclusively used for guests staying at the farm. Previously, the tasting room was located in the lounge, but an all new tasting room has been built down the garden path, keeping the venue exclusive to guests.
Before we could step inside, house manager Jolene warmly welcomed us in the forecourt. Entering the foyer, I was immediately transported back to my school days where hours were spent in hostels and homes with heavy set walls, wooden furniture, window shutters, high ceilings and sound contained rooms.
Having signed in, we moved through to the lounge where the flickering light of the fire warmed the chilly spring evening. I was hungry when we eyed a cheese board and bottle of wine that had so kindly been made up for us (usually available for the tasting room), guaranteeing our likelihood of staying in for the evening.
As Jolene left for the evening, we began to explore the house. Quietly and curiously I stepped into the farmhouse kitchen, hearing any tiny sound immediately get absorbed into the thick walls, large space and high ceilings. The narrow wooden stairwell that rises above the door shut down my curiosity. Nothing spooky for me today, thank you!
The large, old stove and counter-to-ceiling cabinets remind me of a precious German house in Luderitz, Goerke House, and I immediately feel at home. I wonder how long ago this house was built (1927) and all the delicious, wholesome farm food that would have been made over the years by the previous occupants.
It also means that the kitchen is fully kitted out. There are as many glasses, plates, bowls and chopping boards that one would need for a small gathering.
Honeymoon Bedroom Bliss
The manor house has 3 suites that each sleeps 2, with the Hahn family suite accommodating up to 4 guests. Named after the previous Elgin Orchards owners, Browne, Denniston and Syfret, we were spoilt and stayed in the large, honeymoon suite: Syfret.
The feeling of home fills me as I stand in the center of the large bedroom listening to the gentle babble of Sky news on the TV. There’s something about the sound of carpeted floors and high ceilings that take me back to my teenage home and fills me with comfort.
Built to a Sir Herbert Baker design (you can see various renditions in the foyer), the Victorian house is the perfect mix of old world charm and modern amenities. This includes the deep, thick His and Hers basins, rolling windows and clawfoot bath.
Knowing how cold the evenings get, the house includes a wall mounted heater in the bathroom – a new standard set, which I’d love to see more often. This is to ensure any bathing is kept as warm and inviting as possible. Be warned though – the bath is greedy and you’ll run out of hot water if you don’t jump in as soon as you run it! I tried to make a short bath a long experience and ended up on the slightly cold side due to running out of hot water. Poor AJ had a temperate shower. Oops!
Sunny Mornings in the Countryside
Having lain in bed watching Star Wars the night before while AJ wheeled out the braai for a drizzly cook off, I awoke the following morning to warm, deep blue skies. The vibrant glow of spring flowers lined the beautiful front lawn as the horses were let out into the fields to graze.
After a few steps on the damp lawn, my curiosity was prepared to sacrifice my slippers for an early morning walk. Down the uneven, stone paths, the Elgin Vintners garden is filled with hidden benches, ponds and nooks. Fresh air, the gentle scent of rain and lush plants is the perfect way to escape the city and feel submerged in the countryside.
Visitors to the manor house also have use of the large swimming pool, tennis courts and wine tasting is included at the new garden showroom.
Wine Tasting Down the Garden Path
As mentioned, Elgin Vintners now has a private tasting room separate from the manor house. This is to ensure maximum security and privacy for guests at the house and provides beautiful views across the Ridgeland vineyards for day visitors.
Dragging ourselves away from the manor house, we ended our mini break with a visit to the tasting room. We loved watching the colours change over the vineyards, birds and wildlife pottering through the fields as the clouds passed over the large glass windows.
While we were spoilt in not having to share the manor house, Elgin Vintners with its mountain valley views, short lawn, vibrant gardens and luxurious house is one of the best places we’ve stayed to date. It’s the perfect mix of English countryside with South African pride. The wine is absolutely delicious, Jolene’s service was fantastic and (most importantly) we felt safe and comfortable.
I’d love to return on another weekend and get a sense of how the dynamics of the house change when there are more guests. However, with the large amount of space available I’m sure it could only be more entertaining, not less.
Thank you to Elgin Vintners for inviting us to stay.
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