Where to drink one of the world’s oldest cocktails + a recipe
Avontuur Estate Restaurant: Fast Horses, Fine Wine and Fabulous Food
You'll be on cloud wine...
Standing out from the crowd either takes a lot of effort or it’s achieved by an implicit je ne sais quoi. Successfully epitomising both is Avontuur Wine Estate in Stellenbosch. Despite finding itself competing in the increasingly competitive “Winelands destination” industry, the vineyard is inherently unique.
“We are an estate, which means we can only produce wine from what our terroir allows us to make. In that sense, no one else has what we have,” says Michael Taberer, who co-owns and manages the farm with his brother, Philip.
It seems as though the wines that resulted from these one-of-a kind conditions have struck a chord with consumers and critics alike. Avontuur’s creations, particularly their Luna de Miel Chardonnay and flagship Baccarat Bordeaux-style Blend, have been bestowed with over 150 awards over the years and continue to delight.
But it’s not just the reds and whites that distinguish Avontuur Wine Estate, which lies on the slopes of the Helderberg Mountain, as a must-visit Winelands destination. There’s the popular restaurant, self-guided farm walk which includes speciality wine tasting (R100/p) and, of course, the fact that it’s a thoroughbred stud farm. While a stable of roughly 100 elegant horses create a farm-like experience for visitors, for the Taberer family they mean serious business.
“I think we are probably more known for the horses than we are for our wines, to be honest,” says Philip, the younger Taberer brother.
Established by Michael and Philip’s late father, Tony, in the late 80s, the stud farm is home to two prized stallions, VAR and Oratorio. The Taberer family bought the former as a European sprint champion in 2006, and in 2008/09 he became the Champion First Season Sire of South Africa. When the latter, a stud recognised as one of the world’s best sires, was purchased in 2013 he was welcomed nationally as an exceptional addition to the South African breeding industry. Dark, gracious and imposing, the pair keep themselves busy by covering some of South Africa’s top mares for four months of the year, earning their keep by sending more champion racehorses into the world.
Furthermore, for those thinking that a winery-cum-stud farm is something of an incongruous concept, Philip points out that both activities involve a lot of history and passion.
“There is a lot of history and passion involved in both [winemaking and breeding horses]. They both take a while to develop. Breeding is a long waiting game. You breed a horse and wait for it to grow up in five years’ time, and then you eventually realise its potential. It is the same thing with wine; a good wine takes a lot of passion, maturing and effort to produce. And I suppose they are both luxury goods that lend themselves to a certain lifestyle,” he clarifies.
But despite their luxurious offerings, Avontuur doesn’t just beckon to the rich… or the nouveau riche.
“We are a farm first and foremost. We don’t want to be that place that is inaccessible and alienates people with over-the-top glamour. It must still feel like a farm, and we want people to come and visit us and enjoy everything the farm has to offer, even if that is just to take a stroll around the paddocks and vineyards,” explains Michael.
This welcoming atmosphere and hospitable attitude is evident from the moment you turn into the estate from the busy R44 highway. The vineyards and horse enclosures are immediately visible and easily accessible for a closer look, the restaurant and tasting room terrace are inviting and populated with smiling staff members. The magnificent Helderberg slopes in the background inspire a sense of tranquillity.
So with its commitment to facilitating an accessible Winelands experience sans most of the usual gimmicks, it comes as no surprise that the Avontuur Wine Estate is sitting pretty in the upper echelons of many bucket lists.
Tip: A wine tasting session costs R30/p for a choice of five wines, including its 10-year-old Estate Brandy and MCC Brut. What’s more, Avontuur also offers monthly speciality pairings (which change all the time), like biltong, chocolate, fudge and nougat combos, for R80/p. The tasting room is open daily from Monday to Friday from 8:30am to 4:30pm and Saturday and Sunday from 8:30am to 4:30pm.
The Bill: There is no entry fee for the estate, but a wine tasting of five wines will cost R30/p (the speciality pairings go for R80/p). The restaurant is popular and bookings are recommended especially over weekends. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call +27 (0) 21 855 4296 to book. In terms of meals, considering the quality, they are very reasonable. Breakfast (daily from 9am to 11am) options range from R100 to R120; lunch and dinner dishes cost in the region of R100 to R180 and desserts cost between R60 and R85.
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