Nestled in the luscious Drakenstein Valley and surrounded by the majestic Simonsberg, Du Toitskloof and Franschhoek Mountains, you’ll find Babylonstoren, one of the oldest Cape Dutch farms in existence and a real gem for those looking for a rustic wine-tasting experience or a peaceful getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city.
While Babylonstoren’s wines are relatively young (they created their first wine in 2012), the pioneer structures have been standing there since the farm’s founding in 1692 by Dutch settlers. The formal garden, a newer addition to the farm, was designed by French architect Patrice Taravella and is inspired by The Company’s Garden in Cape Town where, for centuries, weary travellers would stop to freshen up and enjoy fresh produce before continuing their journeys between Europe and Asia. It’s perfectly fitting then that today the farm replenishes anyone who drives through its historic gates.
We visited the farm on a dreary, grey day – but the vibrancy of the extensive eight-acre garden and the playfulness of the farm animals scuttling about really brightened the mood. With a glass of the farm’s bestseller, the utterly divine Mourvedre Rose, in hand, we took a stroll through the vintage cellar and the magnificent garden, the standout feature of the farm and home to over 300 species of either edible or medicinal plants. Freshly harvested fruit and veggies are laid out in impressive salads at the Greenhouse Restaurant or used in gourmet dishes for the Babel restaurant.
The names Babylonstoren and Babel come from the age-old tale of the Tower of Babel in Babylon. The farm was named after the little conical hill on the farm that reminded the old farmers of a ziggurat (an ancient type of temple) in Persia, similar to those they saw illustrated in biblical stories.
We ended our garden tour in the Greenhouse and tucked into a selection of delicious sandwiches and salads while sampling the Babylonstoren range of wines (R25 pp), and flagship wines Nebukadnesar and Chardonnay (R10 extra each) – the firm favourite of the group with its well-rounded and smooth finish.
If you are planning on staying the night, Babylonstoren offers authentic-looking Cape Dutch accommodation in the form of simple yet luxurious suites with access to the tranquil Garden Spa, gym and a restored reservoir swimming pool. With our tummies full of good food and wine, we all longed to stay inside the spa for a nap and full body massage.
I’ll definitely be back soon to try a treatment and to see the beauty of the garden in full bloom.