In Their Words
Hartenberg History & Location
Nestled in a valley on the slopes of the Bottelary Hills in Stellenbosch, Hartenberg is a historic family-owned wine estate offering beautifully crafted wines, delicious lunches featuring local seasonal produce, tours of our underground cellar and pristine walking trails through 60 hectares of conserved wetlands.
The first settlers to cultivate the Estate were recorded in 1692 when even then, the wine-bearing potential of the soil was recognised; land was cleared and 2000 vines planted. By 1718, there were 10,000 vines on the property. The farm subsequently passed through the hands of various owners over the years, including Mrs Hampf who bought the farm in 1928, extended the vineyards and planted many of the beautiful trees still seen around the farm.
In 1948, Hartenberg was bought by the late Dr Maurice Finlayson and discovering the true potential of the estate, soon began marketing wines under the label “Montagne”. Besides good wine, the Finlaysons also produced two sons, Peter and Walter, who were to become renowned South African winemakers. Eventually in 1987 Ken Mackenzie purchased Hartenberg and his daughters continue a programme of investment in the farm.
We are passionate about farming sustainably and our Estate is home to an abundance of indigenous plants and wildlife, including over 75 recorded bird species, duikers, steenbok and mongooses. Whether enjoying a wine tasting, lunch or family-friendly picnic outside, visitors are sure to be entranced.
** WHICH WINE FARM HARTENBERG DISCOUNT **
Until the 30 April 2022, all Which Wine Farm followers can receive a 10% discount on lunch, picnics & wine at the farm, or online in the Hartenberg wine shop. Simply quote the discount code ‘WWF10’ at checkout, or if making a food reservation via Dineplan, add this code into the ‘Special Requests’ box. All purchases must be made by the 30th April 2022.
Hartenberg Operating Hours
Wine Tasting: open daily, Mon to Fri 9am-5pm, Sat & Sun 9am-4pm (last tasting 1 hour prior).
Restaurant: open Wed to Sun for lunch 12pm-3pm (platters available Mon & Tue).
Summer Picnics: available Thu – Sun, collection between 12pm-2.30pm (pre-booking essential).
Cellar Tours: Mon to Fri, by prior appointment only.
Closed on Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and Good Friday. All times, prices and facilities listed are subject to change. We recommend checking latest details directly with the farm and pre-booking experiences wherever possible, to avoid disappointment.
Hartenberg Wine Tasting
All our wines are produced, bottled and packaged on the Estate and we are known for our red wines, particularly Shiraz. Our underground cellar, the largest privately-owner cellar in South Africa, affords us the perfect environment to age our wines for a few years before their release.
Our aim is to produce soft, rich, yet elegant wines that all have the ability to age and retain brightness of fruit – wines that are timeless, classic and fresh. This is achieved through combining decades of in-depth knowledge of our terroir with constant innovation and attention to detail.
Tastings are available in our Tasting Room. Our large picnic gardens and jungle gym offer plenty of space for children to play. Should you be a large group, please pre-book by emailing email@example.com.
Wine Tasting Prices
Our Premium Tasting includes 5 of our Premium range wines for R75pp (tasting fee waived on purchase) or our R250pp 5 wine Super Premium Tasting includes older estate wines and our flagship Gravel Hill Shiraz (tasting fee not waived on purchase). Cellar tours or Vinoteque Tastings can be arranged, by prior reservation only (Monday to Friday).
Please note a platter or lunch can be served in the Tasting Room or outside, see Restaurants below.
Lunches are served at tables in our courtyard garden and inside our Tasting Room, bookings are essential.
During the warmer summer months, picnics are served in our expansive gardens which also offer plenty of space for children to play safely. Please note due to COVID-19 regulations, we are unable to put out picnic blankets and cushions but guests are able to bring their own.
Menus & Pricing
Our small lunchtime menu includes a selection of seasonal dishes such as salads and burgers plus rotating blackboard specials and a kiddies box. Our Vintners Platter includes local charcuterie and cheeses – a vegan or vegetarian option is available on request. Platters from R200 and main courses from R120pp.
For summer picnics, expect items such as breads and dips, cheeses and charcuterie, plus some deli savoury and sweet treats. A vegetarian, vegan, no pork, halaal and kiddies box is also available on request. Priced from R300pp, pre-booking essential.
Hartenberg Tours & Activities
Cellar Tours are available on request, Monday to Friday if booked in advance. Please contact the Estate.
Hartenberg are passionate about farming sustainably and the Estate is home to an abundance of indigenous plants and wildlife. On entering the gates, visitors will often spot our goats, sheep, peacocks and Nguni cattle at a distance. Whether enjoying a wine tasting, lunch or picnic outside, visitors are often entranced by the little Four-Striped Grass Mice in the shrubbery or treated to the sound of African Fish Eagles as they hunt high above our wetlands.
When Lucy Visited
Serene Hartenberg harks back to days when life was slow, lunches were long and wine farms were all about tradition, family and simplicity. In summer you can sit under the trees for an intimate meal with friends, or enjoy a picnic on the shady lawns. In winter, a glass of full bodied red in the traditional Tasting Room by the roaring fire will keep you cosy. A classic and charming family-run wine farm, surrounded by nature and best suited to those that prefer a slower pace of life.
So What Makes Hartenberg Stand Out?
Firstly, it has to be the wines. With 8 different soil types on the estate, Hartenberg produce a wide range of premium wines and are rightly famous for their spectacular oaked reds. I was also pleasantly surprised though by several of their whites (their Riesling variations were superb!), so there is something to suit all palates.
The estate itself also stands out as being historic yet rustic, with its natural setting undisturbed. I found it reminiscent of an old rambling French wine estate, with well established flora and fauna, romantic nooks under vine-entwined gazebos and interesting heritage artefacts to admire. Charming, relaxed and unpretentious, yet still retaining an underlying air of refinement.
Finally, certainly during the warmer months, Hartenberg is ideal for different group sizes, as they have multiple areas open. For large groups, families and couples, there’s plenty of space on the lower lawns for summer picnics and celebrations, plus there’s a kids’ play area. For something more intimate, couples and small groups will love the outdoor lunch setting under the vine canopy next to the Tasting Room. During the wetter winter months when the lawns become more inaccessible, the traditional Tasting Room becomes the focus of the property. Overall, an estate with a timeless charm which would suit clients who prefer a more classic wine farm experience.
The Location & Set Up of Hartenberg
Situated in the ‘Bottelary Hills’ wine growing region in the far north west of Stellenbosch, Hartenberg feels a world away from the city, yet it’s just 50 mins from Cape Town’s CBD and 15 mins from Stellenbosch itself. You’ll need a car to visit as even from the gate, to reach the Tasting Room you traverse 2 kilometres of tarred farm road, surrounded by rolling vineyards, hills and wetlands. Of the estate’s 170 hectares, 65 are an extensive wetland, with a plethora of resident birdlife, antelope, mongoose, wild cats and lynx.
Passing a number of farm buildings enroute, once you reach the car park you’re greeted with the striking horseshoe shaped bell tower. Many heritage wine estates have these antique bells, which historically alerted the workers (and slaves, back in the 1700s/early 1800s) to the start of the working day. Thankfully wine estates these days instead have programmes of upliftment for their staff and workers, to educate and empower future generations. Hartenberg is no different. Check www.hartenbergestate.com/conservation-story/ to read about some of Hartenberg’s social and environmental commitments and endeavours. Back at the estate, as you wander around, further evidence of Hartenberg’s heritage status abound, with old artefacts scattered around the property, including old wine pumps and oak barrels.
The centre of the visitor experience is the traditional Tasting Room and adjacent courtyard garden, where lunches are served alfresco under the trees and vines on fine days, or inside on wet days. On the February day I visited it was incredibly hot, even in the shade, so if you prefer something cool ask for a table inside the Tasting Room, which offers a welcome respite from the heat. The interior is very simple at present but I understand they are making some changes to the Tasting Room over the coming months, so watch this space! In winter, they light the large fireplace and the large map of the farm which adorns the wall is interesting to admire.
Beneath the Tasting Room is the Hartenberg wine shop, selling various vintages and branded curios. This leads down past their Cellar to their expansive lawns, which has a large dedicated area for kids with a jungle gym, slide, sandpit and trampoline (it was empty on the day I visited as it was 33 degrees Celsius and far too hot to be on plastic slides). Bear in mind you can’t wine taste in this kids’ area and you can’t see it from the Tasting Room or picnic area, however there are some chairs set up for parents.
Moving to the main section of the lawns, these face the wetlands and some vineyards, with plenty of shady space for pre-booked summer picnics. These are usually available until the end of April and at the time of writing, Hartenberg ask that you bring your own blankets. I saw a mix of visitors from couples on the grass, to families sitting at more formal tables and a large birthday party in the slightly raised central picnic area. I didn’t get close enough to see the picnics themselves but I know they’re popular, with vegetarian, vegan, no pork, halaal and kiddies versions available. A very chilled afternoon.
I didn’t manage to explore the 2.4km ‘wetlands walking trail’ at the estate (it was too hot, it’s ideal for the cooler months), nor could I peek into the cellar as it’s closed at weekends, but just wandering around the main sections of this working farm makes for a peaceful and interesting afternoon. Ancient vine strewn doorways, some striking design features, trees bursting with colourful birdlife and I even spotted a magnificent Ankole bull in the distant reeds, with HUGE towering horns! Whilst you won’t see any Cape Dutch style buildings here at Hartenberg, there’s still a sense of history, for example the cellar door was inherited from the old 17th Century Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town.
I also enjoyed listening to my host explain about Hartenberg’s sustainable and organic practices. They have removed hundreds of alien trees from their wetlands which have allowed indigenous plants to thrive, thus increasing natural soil water levels (which helps with winemaking). With 5 accessible springs, Hartenberg have never had to connect to mains water in over 300 years and they recycle every single drop. All food waste also gets recycled into compost (including grape skins), they find natural solutions to pest problems and they use a drip irrigation system to get water deep into the vines, avoiding wastage. They even put (foul tasting) edible netting on the edges of some vineyards, so if a little steenbokkie (antelope) gets too close, they are gently discouraged without making them ill. A thoughtful conservation pioneer!
Wine Tasting at Hartenberg
All of Hartenberg’s wines are estate produced, with the exception of their Semillon which still comes from the immediate Bottelary region. Approximately 60 hectares are under vine and their wines are premium in quality, soft and elegant with well balanced fruits. Syrah/Shiraz thrives here and most of their reds are full bodied, ideal for extensive ageing.
I was hosted for my visit however wine tasting usually costs R75pp for 5 Premium Wines, or R250pp for 5 Super Premium. You can taste inside or out, plus you can order by the glass or bottle. The Super Premium tend to be wines made in very limited quantities, often from a single vineyard block and with grapes that are hand picked. Essentially, the best of the best. Hartenberg are also one of only 16 estates in South Africa growing Riesling, which they also use to periodically produce an unusual Riesling Noble Late Harvest.
I sampled their 2018 dry Riesling, 2018 Eleanor Chardonnay, 2020 Sauvignon Blanc, 2017 Estate Shiraz, 2016 Gravel Hill Syrah and 2019 Noble Late Harvest. With the crisp Riesling, my knowledgeable host Andrea offered me a sample in a dedicated premium ‘Riedel’ glass and one in normal glass, to see if I could make out any difference. Wow, absolutely I could on the nose – the Riedal glass made the aroma far more intense and pronounced and this crisp, ‘bone dry’ Riesling was so refreshing, with delicate notes of honey. The Sauvignon Blanc was heady with gooseberries, asparagus and lime on the palate, which is apparently typical of this area (a bit too green for me but that’s a personal preference). The tropical Eleanor oaked Chardonnay (named after previous matriarch owner Eleanor Finlayson, mother of famous SA winemakers Peter and David), was light and fresh, with sweet flavours of pineapple and nougat. Less buttery than some other oaked chardonnays, but textured and utterly delicious.
Over to the reds, their 2017 Shiraz displayed typical black pepper notes, bright fruit and as Andrea put it, ‘umami flavours on the palate’. The 2016 Gravel Hill Syrah was superb, with mellow spice and notes of cinnamon. Andrea recommended this to be aged for 10 years ideally before consuming to allow the tannins to mellow, but even at just 6 years old, this was my favourite wine of the day. I finished off with the Riesling Noble Late Harvest which was far less sweet than some of the other Chenin and Sauv Blanc-based Nobles I’ve tried. This paired perfectly with my sweet cheesecake dessert, with its gorgeous apricot nose and flavours of citrus and orange peel on the palate. Really different but lovely. All in all, a wine tasting which left me wanting more!
Dining at Hartenberg
If visiting for lunch, Hartenberg’s menu is relatively small, but has some popular choices. There’s the Vintner’s platter with a selection of meats and cheeses, or on the day I visited the options were a salmon salad with crispy capers, pan fried hake, the classic harten-burger, a veggie burger, sirloin steak and a couple of dessert options. No veggie or kids’ options that I could see, so I would either call them in advance to see if they can make a plan, or if visiting in summer, perhaps opt for a picnic as they can make veg, vegan or kids’ options. I believe they rotate their menu seasonally, so check the website for the latest details.
I had the smoked salmon salad and hubby had the steak with sweet potato fries. Both were tasty, my salad was fresh and light (loved the crispy capers!). The setting is really peaceful and romantic under the canopy of vines, albeit in the height of summer it can get very hot. The farm experiences a cool breeze in the late afternoon, so a tip would be to come for lunch later in the day to benefit from this. Most of the guests seemed to be couples or older family groups, and there was a serene, unhurried atmosphere with attentive staff.
An older style traditional estate in a peaceful natural setting, if you’re looking for a ‘bling and zing’ wine farm experience then historic Hartenberg is probably not the place for you. Here, family values and a heartfelt focus on nature, conservation and sustainability lead the way. The visitor experience is focused on providing a relaxing and intimate space for you to unwind, whilst sipping on premium elegant wines and uncomplicated seasonal food. I’ll be back in winter to see how cosy that Tasting Room fire is, with a glass of delicious Hartenberg Shiraz!
If visiting during the week, why not pre-book a free cellar tour? In addition to learning more about the estate’s organic and sustainable focus, they’ll show you the ancient door to the cellar which was inherited from the Castle of Good Hope which was built in the 17th Century.