When my mother in law called me, full of excitement and announced without pausing for a breath, that she wanted me to take her to see the duck parade at Vergenoegdt Wine Estate, I was somewhat relieved. Did this mean she had now moved on from months of insisting I take her on a mountain canopy tour? That’s not an ideal excursion with her dodgy hip or my fear of heights. The ducks sounded far safer and there would be wine involved, I was sold.
Easter weekend was the perfect time to get the family together and off we went to explore this Stellenbosch estate that has a cellarmaster with a passion for birds and conservation. A long gravel road leads to the duck ponds and the beautifully restored historic homesteads that form a square around the picturesque gardens. At one end you have the cellar where you can book a tour and tasting of some of their older vintages, and at the other end is the manor house where you’ll find the restaurant and wine tastings.
We were instantly greeted by staff who welcomed us and showed us to our table at the restaurant. I had pre-ordered their daily platters and the wine tasting, but there are plenty other activities one can book, from blending your own wines, teas, coffee and olive oils to picnicking in the gardens. The Easter weather was typically wet and windy so we were pleased to be seated in the cozy restaurant, but on a good day, I would love to return to experience a vineyard lunch under the oak trees.
The farm has just the one white wine, the Runner Duck Sauvignon Blanc. This is their easy drinking range and also includes a Runner Duck Red which we happily tucked into later on in the afternoon. The Estate specializes in red wines and we sampled older vintages of their Merlot, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and the Estate Blend. Vergenoegd also grow the Portuguese varietals Touriga Nacional and Tinta Barocca which are used as part of the blend for the Runner Duck Red but are best known as Port varietals and are used in a 50/50 blend for their Old Cape Colony Cape Vintage.
Our platters were the perfect accompaniment to the tasting and the spread included fresh bread, hummus, cheese, chorizo, onion marmalade and black olives along with a herb butter and olive oil. Chef Ryan Shell was very attentive, visiting our table on several occasions as did management and despite being under pressure from a busy Easter weekend, were very willing to make our experience a good one.
The highlight of the day came at 3:30 pm when the farms working ducks returned from a hard day’s work in the vineyards, eating all the unwanted slugs and pests.The duck parade takes place daily at 9:45 am and 3:30 pm daily. They came charging out of the gates, all 700 of them quacking as they made their daily procession back home for the evening. I think I was just as excited as all the children who had gathered to see the running duck parade, this really is a wonderful experience and perfect for kids and mothers-in-law too.
To find out more on the latest and greatest wine farms check out Kim’s blog: www.boutiquewinerytours.com
When Monday – Saturday 9 am – 5 pm
Where Vergenoegd Wine Estate, R310 Baden Powell Drive, Faure, Stellenbosch
Cost Winetastings R35 for 5 wines, Restaurant according to menu
Contact +27 21 843 3248, [email protected], www.vergenoegd.co.za
Photography courtesy Kim Rabe