In Their Words
Rust en Vrede History & Location
Halfway between the towns of Stellenbosch and Somerset West, surrounded by mountains and tucked into the Helderberg foothills, Rust en Vrede truly lives up to its name, ‘rest and peace’. Well protected from the elements and cooling influences of the nearby ocean, we have authentic Stellenbosch terroir, ideally suited to full bodied reds. We only want to produce the highest quality possible, which is why our focus is solely on Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.
Rust en Vrede was officially granted by the Governor of the Cape, Simon van der Stel, on March 12th, 1694. The Cape Dutch buildings on the property date back to 1780 and today, all have National Monument status. These buildings are still used on a daily basis, with the original winery now the Rust en Vrede Restaurant and the Manor House and Jonkershuis still housing the resident Engelbrecht family.
Jannie and Ellen Engelbrecht acquired Rust en Vrede in 1977 and immediately embarked on a full restoration of the Estate. First they restored and equipped the original winery and in 1978 the first vintage of the modern era was produced. An extensive vineyard re-planting also took place, focusing on Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot. Over the years our wines have gone from strength to strength and today are made under the custodianship of Jean Engelbrecht.
Rust en Vrede Operating Hours
Wine Tasting: open Mon to Sat 9am-5pm & Sun 10am-4pm.
Tasting Room Winemaker’s Lunch: available daily 12pm-3pm (first come, first served).
Rust en Vrede Restaurant: open Tue to Sat 6.30pm-11pm (bookings essential).
Cellar Tour: available on request.
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.
Rust en Vrede Wine Tasting
Shielded from the powerful South-Easterly wind by the Helderberg and Stellenbosch mountains – and protected from the South-Westerly wind off the Atlantic by the foothills of the Helderberg – Rust en Vrede is a warmer microcosm in the Helderberg area, which is why we specialise in reds, particularly Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. These varieties lend themselves to full bodied wines with powerful structure and excellent aging potential.
Rust en Vrede’s full range of wines are available for tasting at our Tasting Room in the cellar. Tastings are guided by our friendly and knowledgeable staff, who can also take you on informal tours of our underground cellar.
Many guests also choose to combine their wine tasting with our renowned winemaker’s lunch. Served in the Tasting Room or under our oak trees, the WInemaker’s Lunch includes a simple set menu of either steak or salmon accompanied by a glass of wine. Priced at R280pp on a first come, first served basis. Please refer to www.rustenvrede.com/menus/.
Wine Tasting Prices
Wine tasting options change depending on availability, however usually our 3 wines Estate Tasting costs R60pp, our 4 wines Single Vineyard Tasting costs R130pp or you can taste 6 wines within the Rust en Vrede range for R150pp.
Rust en Vrede Restaurants
The Rust en Vrede Restaurant is housed in the Estate’s original cellar, a historic monument which has been transformed into a sophisticated yet relaxing fine-dining dinner setting. We’ve done our best to preserve the unique charm of the building so that guests are transported back to simpler times, where good wine and food are central to the experience.
Please note our popular Winemaker’s Lunch is served in the Wine Tasting Room (or outside under our oak trees at lunch). Refer to the Wine Tasting section above for more informaiton and prices.
Menus & Pricing
Rust en Vrede Restaurant offers a set six course menu with wine pairing. For an example of the menu, please see the link below. Note that our menu changes frequently depending on availability of ingredients, therefore the menu you see here may vary from what is available on the day of your visit. Please refer to www.rustenvrede.com/menus/.
Rust en Vrede Tours & Activities
Rust en Vrede offer an informal cellar tour on request. Please enquire upon arrival.
When Lucy Visited
I absolutely adore Rust en Vrede! If you’re a lover of fine red wines, captivating heritage estates and great food, look no further. Charming, understated, family owned and simply world-class.
So What Makes Rust en Vrede Stand Out?
Firstly, Rust en Vrede SOLELY focus on red wine – primarily 6 variations or blends featuring Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. They also have a little bit of Merlot for their flagship Estate blend, however this wine farm experience is ideally for red wine lovers. If that doesn’t sound like your cup of tea don’t fret, you can also order a glass of exceptional Steen (Chenin Blanc) or Hooiwijn (sweet straw wine), which is produced under their sister label ‘Donkiesbaai’. If this idea of red wine heaven DOES sound like you, boy are you in for a treat! Some of the best Syrah and Cabernet I have had in my life.
Rust en Vrede is also a wonderful example of an impeccably preserved family owned heritage estate, with many of the old buildings dating back to the late 18th Century. Beautiful to look at yes, however inside they have also gone to great lengths to sympathetically modernise the interiors. For example, the original old cellar from 1785 which overlooks the lawns is now a fine dining restaurant, with plush deep seating designed for intimate candlelit dinners, a stylish open kitchen with a metallic copper finish and oversized statement lighting.
The attention to detail at Rust en Vrede is apparent at every turn. Staff are immaculately dressed and attentive, the ‘winemakers lunch’ was casual but outstanding, the serene lawns are pristine and the wine oozes quality. This is not a flashy estate by any means, but one which takes their guests, wine and hospitality offering very seriously.
Location & Setting of Rust en Vrede
Situated between Somerset West and Stellenbosch in an area known as the Helderberg, Rust en Vrede is surrounded by mountains and vineyards around 45 mins’ drive from Cape Town. Due to its unique location between the Stellenbosch and Helderberg Mountains, it boasts its own micro climate, with relatively low rainfall and abundant sunshine. This significantly contributes to the terroir of the estate and is why Rust en Vrede is so ideal for growing and producing Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon.
To reach the estate you’ll need a car, and once through the shared security gate (bring ID), it’s around a 1km drive to the parking area. Note, several other wine estates are also nearby if you like to ‘wine hop’ (such as Guardian Peak which is also owned by the same Engelbrecht family, plus Ernie Els, Peter Falke, Haskell and others). There’s ample parking and the estate is relatively compact and flat.
The current Tasting Room & Cellar was built in the 1980s however it seamlessly blends in, with lots of wooden cladding outside and in summer, an abundance of colourful Hydrangeas to welcome you. Inside there is a stylish bar and spacious mezzanine level, with plenty of seating overlooking the stainless steel fermentation tanks. Think ‘sleek industrial urban vibe meets French bistro’. I loved it!
For hot summer days or wet days, there’s also a basement cellar which is open to the bar area, set up with tables for tastings and winemaker’s lunches. Sometimes cellars can be rather dreary but not here – Rust en Vrede have a handy cooling system in place to regulate the temperature which when coupled with the white linen tables and stylish drop lighting made for quite a welcoming and cosy space. You can also peek into the barrel cellar next door, which makes you feel so much more connected to the winemaking experience.
Outside the Tasting Room, there are two large patios with tables under the old oak trees. There is nowhere better on a warm summer’s day! The lower level overlooks the lawns however do note in summer, the thick trees do obscure the view of the mountains. Still absolutely lovely though and very intimate.
Next to the Tasting Room is Rust en Vrede Restaurant, housed now in what was the old cellar, built in 1785. This sits adjacent to The Manor House (built 1795) and Jonkershuis (1780). You can’t go in the latter two as they’re occupied by the proprietors, the Engelbrecht family, however it’s still lovely to walk around and admire the whitewashed buildings and pretty views.
The Rust en Vrede Restaurant
Opened in 2007, Rust en Vrede Restaurant was included in the Top 100 Restaurants of the World a couple of years after opening and I can see why! I didn’t eat here this time however had a quick look around – the space was utterly charming and romantic. As the old 18th Century cellar, expect thick stone walls, exposed wooden beams, with pristine buffed cutlery and shining empty wine glasses sitting on spotless white table linen, just waiting for the arrival of that evening’s guests.
At the time of writing, the restaurant is open on some evenings only, serving a 6 course set menu for around R790pp. Optional wine pairing R590pp. I had a look at that day’s menu (which was printed on beautiful thick paper with a wax seal) and it looked suitably elegant and seasonal. One for a special occasion and I loved how the kitchen was open so you could see the chefs at work. This time however, I enjoyed the more casual “winemaker’s lunch” served in the Tasting Room & Cellar. Read on for details and pictures.
Wine Tasting at Rust en Vrede
Let me just set the scene here by saying Rust en Vrede boast many accolades – including producing the first South African wine to be named in Wine Spectator’s ‘Top 100 Wines of the World’, back in the year 2000. They’ve gone on to be named several times more over the years in this same category, which just shows the level of quality and craftmanship you can experience here.
Wine tasting is first come, first served (including if you’re ordering the winemaker’s lunch) but there’s plenty of space. There are 3 main tasting options: the 3 Estate Wines for R60pp, the Single Vineyard Tasting including 4 wines for R130pp or you can taste all 6 of their wines for R150pp. Note Rust en Vrede do have a wine club which offers free tastings for members. Alternatively you can also order by the glass, order a Donkiesbaai Steen Chenin Blanc or coffee if you prefer. Note, there are no options for kids (nor any facilities) except water. This is all about exceptional wine!
I was hosted on this occasion so was treated to all 6 wines however I really would recommend the full tasting. Whilst it is R150pp, you get to sample the entire range of 6 estate wines, including options costing from R320 a bottle right up to R1600! Several of the wines are from very select parcels of the estate (The Single Vineyard options) and are made in very small quantities, aged for a long time and then sometimes held in the bottle for a number of years – hence the price tag.
So what sets Rust en Vrede’s wines apart? Firstly the exceptional quality of the grapes – a ‘pure expression’ of their terroir. The fruit really sings and the touch of the winemaking team and the way they gently make the wine really shines through. Often full bodied reds can be overly tannic or ‘poky’, but not here. Imagine drinking wine like silk, with a rich concentration of fruit on the nose and palate, followed through with fine velvety tannins which just melt in your mouth (and are not overpowering at all, due to the winemaker’s restrained use of new French oak) – coupled with a smooth and elegant lingering finish. Wow. The 2017 Single Vineyard Syrah literally took my breath away – absolute perfection in a glass. These are wines I swear even non-red lovers would appreciate as they have an almost feminine and soft style, yet are complex and enticing at the same time.
I complemented my tasting with the R280pp ‘Winemaker’s Lunch’ – which is a choice of salmon, sirloin of pepper-crusted fillet. I opted for the fillet which was enormous and came with absolutely perfectly fluffy yet crispy chips and a fresh salad. Note, no ketchup on offer here as Rust en Vrede say it ruins the taste of the wine, and you know what, I can totally see that. Every food offering here has been expertly curated and designed to complement the wine and it didn’t matter, the subtle seasoning on the chips was perfection and the fillet (which they age here on site) cut like butter. Who needs ketchup?
A wine estate for grown ups who adore quality red wine and food in a picture perfect setting, Rust en Vrede is everything you could wish for in a wine estate and more. I wanted to repeat my afternoon all over again as soon as it was over! Come for a lazy lunch under the oak trees set amongst beautiful heritage buildings, or treat yourself to an exquisite dinner. An experience to savour for many years to come.
Do take a look at Rust en Vrede’s wine club and rotating special offers. When I visited, they were offering a case of their flagship Estate 2018 wine with a discount, plus it included two free winemaker’s lunches! They won’t always have these sorts of offers but it’s worth asking what the options are – my host Marcus was excellent, very knowledgeable and professional and I chatted to a few of the staff and got the same impression.