In Their Words
History & Location
Talented husband and wife team Chris and Andrea Mullineux first established their award-winning Mullineux winery in 2007 at Roundstone Farm, their Swartland base, located just over an hours’ drive north of Franschhoek. In 2013 they partnered with Analjit Singh and started an additional boutique winery, Leeu Passant, in Franschhoek.
Wine Tasting at Leeu Estates, Franschhoek: open daily 10am-5pm, except Dec to Feb open until 6pm (pre-booking essential).
Wine Tasting at Roundstone Farm, Swartland: by appointment on Fridays only.
Please note a wide selection of restaurants and art galleries are available across the Leeu Collection of properties in Franschhoek, including several within walking distance of the Mullineux & Leeu Wine Studio at Leeu Estates. Please check https://leeucollection.com/SA for the latest opening hours.
Closed Good Friday, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. 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.
At our Wine Studio based at Leeu Estates, our knowledgeable staff will guide you through tasting the wines from both our Swartland and Franschhoek wineries, with elegant glassware and in a comfortable, relaxed space.
Should you be interested in visiting the Mullineux Winery in Swartland, please note wine tasting at Roundstone Farm is by appointment only, on Fridays. Please refer to: https://mlfwines.com/mullineux/about-us/roundstone-farm/.
Wine Tasting Prices
Guests can enjoy several tutored tasting options at The Wine Studio in Franschhoek, pre-booking is essential.
The Mullineux Signature Tasting includes a selection of wines from our Swartland winery. These handcrafted wines are produced from granite and shale-based Swartland soils, heavily focused on various expressions of Chenin and Syrah. Please note, should you be staying overnight at Leeu Estates, guests receive one free Signature Tasting, per person.
We also offer a Mullineux Single Terroir Tasting, including limited edition wines from the Swartland winery or a Leeu Passant Tasting, including a selection of Leeu Passant wines which are produced in Franschhoek but sourced from multiple South African winemaking regions.
Prices and inclusions vary, so please check www.mlfwines.com/leeupassant/wine-studio/ for the latest information.
Leeu Estates and the wider Leeu Collection within Franschhoek feature a number of award-winning restaurants including La Petite Colombe, Le Chêne, Protégé, Epice and The Conservatory. Due to COVID restrictions, not all restaurants are currently open, so we recommend referring to https://leeucollection.com/SA for the latest information.
Tours & Activities
We do not currently offer scheduled vineyard or cellar tours.
Leeu Estates also boasts its own Everard Read art gallery, one of the world’s most renowned and South Africa’s oldest and largest group of galleries. Established in 1913 in Johannesburg, the Everard Read galleries are specialists in contemporary art from South Africa and apart from the two galleries based in Franschhoek, they can be found in Johannesburg, Cape Town and London.
For anyone looking to indulge in some pampering, there is the Leeu Spa by Healing Earth.
Please refer to https://leeucollection.com/SA/leeu-estates for more information on facilities and opening hours.
Leeu Estates is the Leeu Collection’s flagship property, a 22 room exclusive hideaway and boutique winery ensconced in 100 pastoral hectares. The sumptuous interiors of the 19th Century Manor House are matched by the equally spectacular surrounding mountain panoramas. Facilities include two restaurants, a pool, steam room, gym, hair and nail salon.
Please refer to https://leeucollection.com/SA/leeu-estates for more information.
When Lucy Visited
Handcrafted. Exceptional quality. Intimate and serene. These words spring to mind when I think of the wonderful tasting experience at Leeu Passant in Franschhoek – set in the spectacular grounds of Leeu Estates. For serious wine lovers, a visit here should be high on your list to experience the best of what South African wine and winemaking has to offer.
So What Makes Leeu Passant Stand Out?
A flawless, personal and intimate wine tasting in one of the most pristine estates in South Africa, a visit to the Mullineux & Leeu Wine Studio was, for me, exceptionally special. I knew of The Leeu Collection of hotels from my previous life in the Travel Industry (The Leeu Collection own three luxury hotels in Franschhoek, including Leeu Estates where the Wine Studio is situated, among others), however it was the winemaking Mullineux family who I’ve come to really admire since my move to South Africa 18 months ago who really drew me to visit.
Winemaker Andrea Mullineux hails from the US and moved here to join her South African winemaking husband Chris, after they met and fell in love while working on a wine estate in France. They established their own winery in 2007 on a farm in the Swartland (just over an hours’ drive north of Franschhoek), and ever since have consistently wowed the wine world with their offerings under the Mullineux wine label. In 2013 they then partnered with the owner of The Leeu Collection, Analjit Singh, to also make wines under the Leeu Passant label in Franschhoek (which are reflective of vineyards and terroirs across the wider Cape, not just the Swartland).
The awards have been piling in since then, with Platters awarding them ‘Winery of the Year’ an unprecedented 4 times, plus in their 2022 edition, voted seven of their wines 5 stars and their Mullineux Old Vines White ‘White Blend of the Year’. High praise indeed!
Visitors to the boutique Wine Studio in Franschhoek can expect an elegant and welcoming space in which to explore and savour many of these award-winning wines. Be warned though, there are no dining facilities or kids’ jungle gyms here at the Wine Studio; this is a place where the wine proudly takes centre stage.
The Wine Studio Venue
As mentioned, the Wine Studio is situated within the grounds of the expansive and lush Leeu Estates in Franschhoek, also home to a 5 star luxury hotel, acclaimed restaurants, spa and art gallery. The Wine Studio operates independently and pre-booking your visit is essential, however it’s not uncommon for guests to wine taste and then walk to the hotel for lunch or dinner (the restaurants La Petite Colombe and Le Chene are also highly awarded).
As with the estate itself, The Wine Studio building was erected relatively recently, however architecturally it has been sympathetically designed to be in keeping with the iconic Cape Dutch style, evocative of the Manor Houses of the 17th and 18th centuries found here in the Cape. As you drive through the security gates (bring your ID), you’ll pass row upon row of vineyards and impeccably manicured gardens, before reaching the Wine Studio with its indoor and outdoor seating.
Outside there is a covered terrace with a handful of intimate tables for small groups, plus a section with one long table for pre-booked larger groups (max 12). I’ve visited a couple of times and whilst cold winter days induce the mass shedding of leaves, the benefit is that views towards the mountains are more abundant. During summer, the lush foliage envelopes you in the space which although obscuring some of the view, brings with it a peaceful charm.
Inside, eminent Spanish architect Tomeu Esteva has created a warm and elegant space within which to relax. Couples and small/medium sized groups are best suited due to the size of the Studio, with cosy tables, a decorative fireplace, chandeliers and views towards their maturation cellar, which is separated by glass.
What About The Wine Tasting?
There are 3 wine tasting options on offer at The Wine Studio: the Mullineux Signature Tasting (R120pp at the time of writing), the Mullineux Single Terroir Tasting (R360pp) or the Leeu Passant Tasting (300pp).
I opted for the Signature Tasting this time, which focuses solely on the Swartland wines produced for the Mullineux and Kloof Street labels. I’ve been fortunate enough to attend a dinner with Andrea and Chris Mullineux where they spoke passionately about the wildness of the Swartland and the 4 distinctive soil types found in the area. These soils bring a certain flinty quality to the wines at times, plus they also often use Old Bush Vines in their winemaking (35+ year old vines, offering low yields but intense flavours). Sadly I can’t comment on the Leeu Passant wines as I haven’t tried them yet, however they’re noted for being of exceptional quality, renowned for their diversity having being made from grapes selected from premium vineyards across the Cape. Something for next time!
Back to the Signature Tasting, this is a good place to start if you’re not familiar with the Mullineuxs. It includes two ‘Kloof Street’ wines (these are their affordable, accessible everyday wines which are also delicious), plus three wines from the flagship Swartland ‘Mullineux’ range, all served in beautiful Gabriel Glas stemware and by a genteel and knowledgeable host (we had Avuyile, or AV, who was fantastic).
For me what sets these wines apart is a consistently luxurious textured feel on the palate, vivid colours with a fresh acidity, delicate aromas and wonderfully long finishes – especially the whites. Smooth and so well balanced across the board. Their tasting descriptors are also totally on point – the Kloof Street Chenin really does taste of ‘sun ripened pears’, the stunning Mullineux Old Vines White (remember, that best White Blend in SA?) really does evoke notes of nectarine and cinnamon. And I don’t have enough words to describe the liquid gold that is their Chenin Straw Wine – a heady, rich sweet wine which is an explosion of honey and apricot I would kill for (and consistently mentioned in the same breath as Vin de Constance, one of the most revered sweet wines in SA’s history!).
The reds I have tasted bear more evidence on the palate of the flinty soils, with savoury notes and an unusual mineral dimension, which is reflective of that distinctive Swartland terroir. From their Kloof Street Rouge, styled after the everyday wines they enjoyed at the table in France, to their signature Mullineux Syrah, what I appreciate is that you’re on a journey with them and they certainly test your palate!
For wine lovers, Mullineux, Kloof Street and Leeu Passant wines are right up there amongst the best and savouring these award-winning wines surrounded by the beauty of Franschhoek is something totally special. The Wine Studio is ideal for couples, friends and small groups (max 12) where professional and discreet staff gently open your eyes to passionate, precision winemaking at its best.
Keep your eyes peeled on social media for ‘Winemakers Dinners’ with Chris and Andrea Mullineux. I attended one in Franschhoek and it was my most memorable evening of the year! Not only can you experience exquisite food and wine but you can also enter a winemaker’s world, hear their stories, feel their passion and understand the journey each wine has made from grape to glass. This makes wine tasting so much more special. Alternatively, why not visit the Mullineux’s farm in Swartland? It’s open on Fridays only and strictly by appointment.