Moody, pewter clouds swirl around the jagged mountain peaks. The sun is sinking, but the light is still bright enough to see the patchwork of green and stone rising up the mountainside. The Webersburg mountain face surrounds us like a crest of a wave, giving life to animals, plants, insects, fruit – and us.
Lockdown has been tough. With AJ being so ill with pneumonia and the ceaseless cycle of sitting at a computer, day after day; it started to become difficult to believe a beautiful world still existed outside our covid-free bubble. Enter: Webersburg, our very own version of Wheatfield Under Thunderclouds.
Mini Breaks at Webersburg
An eagle swoops above the vineyards as the evening breeze swishes through an old oak tree alongside the dam rippling under the same breeze. The excited shrieks of a toddler, running away from mother, pierces the evening air at twilight. The smell of braai and wisps of smoke puff past from the cottage below as the man of the house prepares dinner for his family.
We’re locked behind remote controlled security gates. Safety is a concern in South Africa, but we haven’t felt as safe and free in so long.
Thoughts of dinner interrupt our vineyard viewing. The self-catering cottage has modern amenities including a stove, microwave, fridge, toaster and braai (upon request). However, there are curfews in place and we’ve got dinner decisions to make before it gets too late. Stellenbosch, here we come.
Popping To Town
“There’s no Covid in Stellenbosch”. The restaurants are full. The bars are overflowing into the streets. It feels unsafe and we’re nervous. Calling the Hussar Grill from the car, we’re pleasantly surprised when the loved staple restaurant can accommodate us at our own table.
We splash out on a steak dinner with all the sides and sauces. Butternut, creamed spinach, deep-fried onion rings – the good, thick slab kind not the grated version, (which belongs nowhere but on a salad) and two ice-cold Coca Colas. Not eating my own cooking after so many months is such a joy! With a full tummy and a smile hidden behind our masks, we head back to the farm to settle in for the evening.
I’ve already learnt that the couches are deceptively comfortable. The wine in the fridge is available on an honesty bar tab and the TV has DSTV (which we couldn’t get to work – again! Clearly we have satellite gremlins!). But we don’t care. I have my Kindle, a beautiful art history coffee table book and a large king-sized bed. Weekend – you are welcome.
Mornings at Webersburg
The following morning I’m woken up by bright sunlight glaring through the bedroom curtains. I’m suddenly so thankful I’m not hungover. The winelands are a prominant wedding venue territory and having DJ’d for a few years, I know there are always a few sore heads in the house!
Suddenly, a knock on the door. Did I hear a knock on the door? *Knock knock knock* Oh my! I jump out of bed, scrambling for something decent and flat foot it to the sliding door. Breakfast is here!
The messenger greets me as warmly while handing me paper bags containing crisp grapes, a Darling yoghurt, bran flakes, cheese, a freshly baked croissant and the announcement that a warm breakfast awaits down the hill in the restaurant. COVID friendly, farm fresh and delicious.
Before AJ wakes up, I decide to go for a stroll. Exploring South Africa’s most beautiful and precious landscapes is an opportunity never to be missed, even if exercise isn’t the name of your game! Pulling on my old trainers, I step outside into the shiny day, slowing stepping downhill. Skirting the edge of the dam, I realise the property is fenced in. A welcome security feature albeit unexpected. Spinng around to head back up the hill, I find AJ at the front door admiring the views. “Breakfast is served my love! I’m going to keep walking down. I’ll meet you there!”
The road edges are lined with beautiful roses; vibrant coral reds, blood reds, mauve, white and pink. They adorn each cottage lounge delivering the simpliest of joys. The dusty brick road winds between the farm buildings and precious manor house, skirting along a golden field where a rafter of turkeys live. Surpringly – not Christmas lunch! But rather the owner’s pets, I come to learn.
Lush lawns and old oak trees open up as I reach the restaurant, banked upon a rustic dam in the foreground of the exquistite mountains.
Brunch is Served
It’s a birds’ paradise at Webersburg. Geese waddle around the lawns. Fish eagles cry across the valley. Jacky hangmen fly from wire to wire as Egyptian geese honk around the dam shoreline. Maintenance men sail out across the dam to keep the water healthy as chairs for wine tasting are placed under the 200-year-old oak trees.
I’m the quirky customer who brought along my own gluten-free toast. Sadly, taste no longer overrules the inconvenience, but the kitchen is more than happy to use my pre-toasted bread for the croquet madame I order from their breakfast menu. It was a tough call with so many absolute classics like a farm breakfast, waffles and Eggs Benedict, but the pulled pork wins me over. As we enjoy our breakfast, we watch nature at play through the large restaurant windows.
Wine Tasting at Webersburg
Before we head back to the cottage for a luxurious shower (we all know – not all showers are made equally!) we squeeze in a wine tasting with Florence, our jovial hostess. Webersburg produces delicious white, rose and red wines, which we taste while learning about the history of the farm and how the wines reflect the land. It’s an easy past time that may see the day disappear if you’re not careful.
The whites are on the green grass side for those who like a crisper wine. I’m a Chenin drinker so I was very impressed with the rosé, which could definitely be drunk all day! The Webersburg rosé is unexpected and delicious. The reds are also a range of delectable hues, scents and tastes, which explore through Florence’s expertise.
It’s time for us to say goodbye to Webersburg, but I refuse to let it go easily as I sit on the edge of the dam. I can feel my shoulders starting to burn as dragonflies zoom around and bees land on the short purple flowers around me. Swimming in the dam is allowed, but I discover this too late to exercise the freedom, a great regret – but good reason to return to the exquisite farm.
The sound of a working tractor chugging past, tweeting birds, the neighbour’s dog faintly barking in the background; the dimension of the vineyards against trees, against mountains, against blue skies, all pin me down. I don’t want to go. I want to stay here and keep pretending that the world is right again and the pandemic has dissolved.
But, at least, I’ve been reminded that beauty does still exist, that there is still wonder and magic in the world. Wearing a mask and keeping safe is worth it – just for these exquisite farm visits. The most important reminders of 2020: nature, family, freedom.
Find Webersburg on the Annandale road on the east side of Stellenbosch. It’s conveniently located around the bend from Hidden Valley, Ernie Else and Uva Mira. Each cottage is semi-detached so we recommend booking at the same time as friends and family to have a joint experience. (We didn’t have neighbours when we visited.)
Thank you to Webersburg for having us, we will definitely be back!
Have a question? Drop a note below or mail stay@gotthepassports!