In Their Words
Vergelegen History & Location
Located 30 minutes south of Stellenbosch close to the town of Somerset West, Vergelegen was founded on the 1 February 1700 by Governor Willem Adriaan van der Stel. It has since been under the ownership of some of the world’s great explorers and visionaries, each of whom in their own way have helped shape Vergelegen to what it is today: a world-class Estate.
The first vines were planted at Vergelegen in 1700 and vineyards also flourished under the Theunissen family’s tenure between 1798 and 1899. In the 20th Century, there were sporadic plantings by various owners, the last of which were removed in 1962. The soils of Vergelegen lay fallow until 1987 when the Estate was purchased by the Anglo American company and the current 117 hectare plantings include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Shiraz, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Sémillon.
With Vergelegen’s award-winning wines, history spanning over 300 years, heritage, exquisite gardens and cuisine to suit all tastes, it comes as no surprise that the Estate continues to be the choice of the discerning visitor seeking a total sensory experience. Wine tasting, heritage, environmental and cellar tours, seasonal restaurants and the luxury summer picnics in our Camphor Forest: these are only a few of a myriad of enjoyable activities at Vergelegen.
Please note entry to the Estate costs R10 per adult and R5 per pensioner/scholar.
Vergelegen Operating Hours
General Opening Times: open daily 8.30am-5pm (last entry 4pm).
Wine Tasting: open daily from 9am-4.30pm.
Stables Restaurant: open daily 8.30am-5pm (kitchen closes 3.30pm).
Seasonal River Café Pop Up: open Wed to Sun 12pm-5pm & Fri to Sat 6pm-11pm.
Summer Forest Picnics: available Nov to Apr, collection 12.15pm-1.30pm (closes 4.30pm).
Reservations essential for all dining experiences.
Vineyard & Cellar Tour: departs daily 11.30am.
Environmental Tour: departs daily 10am (weather dependent).
Heritage & Garden Tour: departs daily 9.30am (weather dependent).
Pre-booking essential for all tours.
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.
Vergelegen Wine Tasting
Our wide selection of award-winning wines include the flagship Vergelegen range, plus the Vineyard, Reserve Premium, MMV Brut and Straw Wine ranges. Be assured of a warm welcome at the Vergelegen Wine Tasting Centre, where our knowledgeable wine advisors will be happy to guide you through the wines. The Tasting Centre overlooks an extensive octagonal-shaped herb garden and guests have the option of tasting inside or outside on the patio.
Wine Tasting Prices
Vergelegen offer several tasting choices, plus additional more unusual variants can be sampled by the glass. Group Tastings for 8 guests or more are also available for R80pp, including 4 wines (pre-booking essential).
The Premium Range Tasting features 4 of our entry-level Premium wines for R40pp. The Reserve Range Tasting includes one of two selections of Vergelegen’s Reserve range, with includes 4 of our medium-to-full bodied red and white wines for R70pp. Our limited release Vineyard Range Tasting includes 3 full-bodied, site-specific wines for R90pp. Our Flagship Range Tasting includes 3 exceptional Bordeaux-style wines for R120pp.
The Estate features a number of dining options to cater to all tastes. Stables at Vergelegen is our popular family-friendly bistro, renowned for its great garden setting and mountain views. Our newest dining destination pop-up, The River Café, is a riverside dining experience in a glass marquee, sitting on the banks of the ancient Lourens River. Finally, white table cloth picnics are also available during the warmer summer months, in our magical Camphor Forest.
Menus & Pricing
The Stables offers classic yet modern bistro fayre. Breakfast may include Eggs Benedict, Sweet Potato Rosti or French Toast. Lunch sample items include Deep Fried Camembert, Springbok Carpacccio, Salads, Mussels, Chargrilled Meats, Wood-Fired Pizzas, Burgers and a range of desserts. A kids’ menu is also available. Main courses from R130pp. Pre-booking recommended.
At the seasonal River Café, sample items include Seared Salmon, Oysters, Chorizo & Calamari and Rib Eye Steak. Mains from R125 and a small selection of desserts are available. Pre-booking essential.
Vergelegen’s summer white tablecloth picnics are hosted in the beautifully shaded and tranquil Camphor Forest. Baskets include artisanal bread and chutneys, cured meats, quiche, salads, cheeses and a sweet treat. Priced from R330pp. A vegetarian, vegan and kids’ version is available (R125 per child). Pre-booking essential, Nov to Apr only.
Vergelegen Tours & Activities
There are several self-guided walks and organised tours available at Vergelegen. Please refer to Operating Hours for specific details of tour departure times.
No matter what time of the year you visit, there’s always something interesting to see at Vergelegen and visitors will have the opportunity to meander through our 18 unique gardens which have been meticulously restored to reflect the historic nature of the Estate. Please refer to www.vergelegen.co.za/gardens/ to obtain a glimpse of what is on offer.
Vergelegen operate a 1.5 hour behind the scenes Vineyard & Cellar tour. The includes a stop at specific vineyards, a visit to the gravitational flow cellar and underground barrel vault, with extensive 360 degree views of False Bay and the Hottentots-Holland Mountain range from the cellar roof. Priced from R75pp, pre-booking essential.
The 1.5 hour Environmental Tour showcases the culmination of 20 years of ongoing commitment to sustainability and rehabilitation. Visitors will be driven through the Estate’s botanical arboretum and biodiversity nature reserve, with possible sightings of free-range Nguni cattle and Bontebok. Priced from R350pp, pre-booking essential and weather permitting.
Our 1 hour Heritage & Garden Walking Tour introduces guests to the history of Vergelegen, which was declared a Provincial Heritage Site in 2019. Highlights include visiting the 200 year old Library, 300 year old Cape Dutch Homestead, majestic Camphor Tree Forest and magnificent themed gardens. Priced from R50pp, pre-booking essential and weather permitting.
When Lucy Visited
Vergelegen is a wonderfully lush and sprawling heritage estate, full of nooks and crannies which entice you to come back over and over again. The gardens are particularly spectacular in summer, with blooming colourful flowers and lazy picnic lunches available in the estate's atmospheric Camphor forest. A must visit, no matter your age!
So What Makes Vergelegen Stand Out?
There aren’t many wine farms which can lay claim to regularly hosting presidents and visiting dignitaries, however Vergelegen is one such estate – a testament to their historic importance and natural beauty.
With origins dating back over 300 years and home to a number of national monuments, Vergelegen oozes history at every turn, from heritage buildings and their eye opening museum to ancient verdant gardens and ruins, ripe for all ages to explore.
Today, Vergelegen is renowned for producing highly rated wines yet have also been clever in modernising where they need to. Expect elegant and seasonal dining options (the food is top notch), a welcoming tasting room and an abundance of outside space with ever changing views, best explored on foot or via one of their organised tours. This is nature and Cape Cultural Heritage at its best.
The Location & Layout of Vergelegen
Part of the Stellenbosch Wine Route, Vergelegen is actually much closer to the town of Somerset West and this particular area known as The Helderberg is dotted with several wine estates. Nearly all visitors drive here and it’s an easy 45 min hop from Cape Town or just under 30 mins from Stellenbosch. There is an entrance fee of R10 for adults or R5 for pensioners/school age children (pensioners are free of charge on Mondays). Unfortunately the estate does not permit dogs or bicycles, nor can you bring your own picnics.
The estate is esy to navigate on foot, both as it’s flat and they helpfully provide a detailed map which shows designated paths and points of interest. The main car park is adjacent to the wine tasting area and information centre, so you can pick one up here.
Vergelegen officially have 17 themed gardens to explore, in addition to their towering bamboo forest and historic Camphor tree forest (which hosts their summer picnics). The ‘Yellowwood Walk’ is lovely and leads you to a 320 year old Yellowwood Tree, plus it’s worth seeking out their ‘Old Oak’ planted around 1700 (reputedly SA’s oldest oak tree) and the ‘Royal Oak’, planted in 1928. Pathways are mainly gravel, brick or via raised deck walkways, which make walks possible year-round.
The interweaving gardens are so relaxing, it never feels busy and kids will love exploring, climbing trees and smelling the flowers. Do check Vergelegen’s website for details on when each garden blooms, as each month is different (www.vergelegen.co.za/gardens/).
You’ll also find several heritage buildings dotted around the estate, including the authentic Cape Dutch Homestead which you can wander through (no pictures allowed inside). This leads to a fascinating storyboard wall called the ‘Exhibition Corridor’, which takes a reflective pictorial look at the estate’s multi layered history. It’s actually an incredibly sobering read when you realise Vergelegen’s journey crosses landowners and slaves, winemakers and presidents. They offer a guided walking tour which includes a visit here, plus the 200 year old Library and gardens – refer to www.vergelegen.co.za/experiences/ to book.
What Dining Options Are There?
At the time of going to print, the fine dining Camphors Restaurant has recently closed, with a new offering coming soon. However they have opened a seasonal pop up restaurant in a different location: The River Cafe. Unfortunately I haven’t visited yet however I believe it’s a ‘glass marquee’ situated on the banks of the Lourens River, offering rustic lunches and dinner at the weekends. Sounds fab!
Vergelegen’s main restaurant is now The Stables, a family friendly bistro which offers a wide a la carte breakfast and lunch menu. There’s also a kids’ menu and Stables is within eyesight of the excellent kids’ adventure play area which features slides, ropes, bridges and a maze. You can also sit at socially distanced tables outside under the trees on fine days, which is lovely.
The food at Stables is more towards the premium end in terms of usual wine farm prices, but I think this is reflective of the quality, setting and service (which is excellent). Expect fresh, seasonal ingredients and quality produce in a really gorgeous setting surrounded by nature. All restaurants get busy so do book ahead at all times.
Vergelegen are also famous for their summer picnics in the lush Camphor forest, where you are allocated a private table and shared host. I’ve enjoyed a picnic here with friends but I’ve spotted couples and families too. The forest offers an idyllic shady canopy, whilst quality picnic items are served by attentive hosts on beautiful white tablecloths. Definitely an elegant picnic experience.
Wine Tasting at Vergelegen
The light and airy Wine Tasting room blends seamlessly into Vergelegen’s natural setting. Expect vaulted ceilings with exposed beams, oak furniture and a small bar and curio shop, with 6 or 7 tables and a fire. There’s also an outside covered terrace with plenty of tables overlooking the manicured gardens. I sat inside at the bar so I could chat to the staff who seemed very knowledgeable and welcoming. Families, couples or groups would feel at home here, summer or winter.
There are several tasting options available, starting from R40pp. Currently there are no food pairings or platters.
I was already a fan of their gorgeously zesty Premium Sauvignon Blanc and exquisite Chardonnay-based MMV bubbly Brut, so for my tasting I opted for their Flagship Range. This includes 3 premium Bordeaux-style full bodied red/white blends for R120. These flagship wines are more on the higher priced side (R400-R1500 per bottle) and in my mind, are best tasted by serious wine lovers! Why? Well, these full bodied reds are designed for extensive ageing. You open a 2018 vintage and it’s often still heavily oaked and slightly tannic, so it’s best to leave these to age in the bottle for several years to achieve that optimal taste. Wine aficionados would rejoice at this tasting, however if you prefer a more approachable style (i.e. wines that you can open and enjoy straight away), start with their entry level Premium Range, a great introduction to their wines and just R40 for 4. Overall, the wine at Vergelegen matches the estate: elegant and quality-driven.
If you’re interested in seeing Vergelegen’s vineyards and modern cellar, do take a look at their organised tour www.vergelegen.co.za/experiences/cellar-vineyard-tours/ which must be booked in advance.
A nature lover’s paradise, Vergelegen is a wonderful and tranquil day out for both adults and children alike, offering heritage buildings to explore, premium dining to savour and world-class gardens to marvel at. Whether you are a wine lover or not, due to its size it warrants a full day out to appreciate all that’s on offer and I highly recommend you take a look at their website in advance of your visit: www.vergelegen.co.za.
Top Tip #1: Firstly, if you’re unsure of how to pronounce Vergelegen, very broadly speaking try FUR-GHER-LAIR-GHUN. The ‘GH’ being the gutteral sound you make when you gargle salt water.
Top Tip #2: Don’t miss a visit to the historic Homestead and moving ‘Exhibition Wall’. Here you can understand the legacy and significance of the estate, from its humble beginnings in the 17th Century to its influence and impact on agriculture, slavery, wine, politics and South African society as we know it today.