Vergelegen, the 316-year-old Somerset West wine farm, lies within a cultural heritage area spanning 60 hectares. Owner Anglo American has restored the estate to its full glory, and opened it to the public seven days a week to showcase the best of South Africa.
Here are five reasons to visit the estate this Heritage Month:
1. Heritage homestead: The beautiful farmhouse is furnished with Cape Dutch, French and Anglo-Indian furniture, complemented by an Omari porcelain collection and paintings and bronzes from the SA National Gallery.
2. ANC meeting: The estate was the venue of the first ANC caucus meeting after its unbanning, attended in April 1990 by Nelson Mandela and colleagues such as Thabo Mbeki, Joe Nhlanhla and Aziz Pahad.
3. Literary legacy: The former wine cellar – 200 years old – houses over 4500 books that belonged to mining magnate and philanthropist Sir Lionel Phillips.
5. Traditional trees: Vergelegen has a fine specimen of South Africa’s national tree, an Outeniqua yellowwood, estimated to be 150-400 years old.
6. Garden glory: A total of 18 magnificent gardens stretch over 10 hectares. These include an International Camellia Garden of Excellence – one of only 39 such gardens in the world, and the only one in Africa.
Opening hours are Mondays to Sunday, 9am to 5pm (last entry 4pm). Entrance R10/adults and R5/pensioners and scholars.
Daily heritage and garden tours (one hour) depart from the wine tasting centre daily at 10am, at R20/person. For more information, call 021 847 2122; or visit www.vergelegen.co.za.