In our busy lives, we often forget the most important part of living: allowing ourselves time to relax and recuperate. In the Cape Winelands, we can honestly say that we found the perfect place to do just that.
Just two hours out of Cape Town, along one of the Western Cape’s most scenic routes lined with fynbos and mountains, the peaceful, beautiful Jan Harmsgat five-star country house and historic farm welcomes travellers with the soothing sounds of rustling trees and the smell of fresh garden herbs and wild flowers carried by the crisp Winelands air.
Once you catch sight of the classic Cape Dutch houses and arch dating back to 1723, you know you’ve arrived in the right place. First things first, check into your room. The JHG country house offers an exclusive selection of 10 unique rooms plus a honeymoon suite, each of which are carefully designed and decorated to make you relax from the second you arrive.
Thoughtful touches reassure you that you’re in good hands, from the flowers delicately laid out next to the bath, basin and toilet, to a personalised letter that welcomes you by name.
The comforting smell of thatch, soft carpeting and dimmed lights hanging from angled beams sets the mood for your visit as you slip into a state of leisure.
As soon as your bags are neatly delivered to your room, a picnic on the rollings lawns with blue skies peaking through the pecan trees awaits you.
The quaint yet luxurious Just Amy restaurant on the grounds serves the most marvellous picnic platters which are delivered to a checkered blanket laid out just for you.
Pair your lunch with one of the many exceptional JHG single block wines and finish off your meal with a nap on a cushioned deck chair in the shade and you have the perfect recipe for stress relief.
Once you’ve spent enough time lounging the afternoon away, it’s time to take to the mountains for a 4×4 vineyard adventure.
JHG’s wine expert takes guests on a breathtaking tour into the mountains along roads that connect the pomegranate orchards with JHG’s small-batch boutique vineyards. As you enjoy the ride, be sure to keep an eye out for the resident wildebeest that have lived on the farm for years.
Jan Harmsgat are not only producers of amazing wines that are wild fermented and vegan but also of the highest yield of pomegranates in the country, and they’ve just released a delightful pomegranate juice that contains more antioxidants than rooibos or green tea.
The orchards are impressive and we get to take a few nearly-ripe fruits that barely fit in our hands from the trees.
After you sample a few delightful grapes from the vine and try to wrap your head around how pomegranates can grow so big, prepare yourself for a wine tasting on the koppie where you have uninterrupted views of the Overberg mountain stretches, Swellendam and a splendid sunset under which you can swirl, sip and savour fantastic wine.
Once you’re even more relaxed and back down from the koppie, head down to the Just Amy restaurant to enjoy the special menu, which changes every six weeks and offers a wonderful three-course dinner.
The dining experience is second to none, with the unique historic building setting the mood for a romantic, relaxing evening, while the dimmed chandeliers radiate soft opulence.
The service is on-point, with waiters tending to your every need before you even realise you had one. The menu caters not just to meat-lovers but also those with vegetarian or vegan dietary requirements. We can highly recommend the frozen white chocolate mousse for dessert.
While enjoying your meal, you simply must pair it with any of the JHG wild fermented wines, or you’ll be missing out.
With your belly full, after your dinner you can either opt to head to bed for the night and enjoy the sheer comfort of one of the best beds you’ve ever slept on, or be adventurous and have an evening swim in the black-bottomed pool where the water is lukewarm.
After the sun goes down, a hot bath or shower is in order. Jan Harmsgat recycles all of its water so you don’t have to feel too guilty about stealing a luxuriant soak in the classic ball-and-claw tub. Rooms are provided with bath salts and soaps as well as warm robes to don once you’ve soaked away your worries and tucked yourself in for the night.
Mornings at the JHG farm are without a doubt a cut above the rest. For breakfast, guest can enjoy both cold and healthy options like seasonal fresh fruits with nuts from the garden paired with coffee or juice or hot options like classic bacon and eggs.
When your morning meal is done a walk on the grounds is just the thing to do to start your day off on the right foot. The estate offers sprawling lawns lined with olive and pecan trees, as well as an apple vine arch perfect for a candid photo moment.
No matter how long you stay, you’ll never leave Jan Harmsgat without a newly-found appreciation for Cape history and a sense of peace that seems to grow on the farm and leave with every guest, much like a fine bottle of wine or a freshly-picked pomegranate.
Contact: 087 057 4507
Address: R 60 Swellendam, South Africa
Pictures: Aimee Pace/Facebook/Jan Harmsgat