Bodyboard down the Oliphants, sleep in a bedouin tent, hike a pristine trail
Mooi Bly wine estate is Paarl’s hidden gem
“Totsiens en Mooi Bly”
Often we speak about hidden gems we discover in and around Cape Town. In all honesty we have to admit that some of these gems are less hidden than others. But when we drove to Mooi Bly wine estate in Paarl, we knew we had stumbled upon a truly well-hidden gem.
The hidden factor could be attributed to finding your way to the place – which has been under construction for a year now, making the estate somewhat of a mission to find. Not a problem for guests of Mooi Bly, because ‘lady of the house’ Liesbeth Schouteden-Wouters will send them very detailed directions beforehand. This way all visitors arrive safe and sound after an hour’s drive from Cape Town. After that, the enjoyment can begin.
Stars in the sky
“Stars? We don’t do ratings in stars,” says Erik, wine-maker and Liesbeth’s husband. “There are plenty of those in the sky,” he says grinning. The Flemish couple immigrated to South Africa ten years ago with Liesbeth’s parents; and they now also have two sons Simon and Joppe.
After years of hard work in the family’s cheese store in Antwerp, they decided it was time for a change of scenery. After a week of orienting and visiting over 50 estates in the winelands, they fell in love with the estate on the slopes of the Du Toit Mountains, later to be called ‘Mooi Bly’.
From cheese-maker to wine-maker
The original idea was to set up a restaurant, which didn’t turn out the way it was hoped. The cellar was at the time making wines which were delivered straight to a cooperation, Erik decided perhaps it was time for him to start learning more about wine.
As a professional cheese-maker Erik obviously had some knowledge about the art of drinking wine, but he was far from being a wine-maker. After an intensive course Erik has been an official wine-maker for the last couple of years, bringing the collection of Mooi Bly’s range to six lovely wines. There are private tastings at the estate, but they can also be enjoyed while having dinner at Den Anker Restaurant in the V&A Waterfront, as well as in some local wine stores.
More than a wine estate
Mooi Bly is not ‘just a wine estate’. “We are a wine estate-slash animal shelter-slash horse farm,” Liesbeth laughs. Luckily it’s not just her and Erik who love horses, but the whole family is fond of the farm’s menagerie. There are six horses (three foals on the way!), seven dogs, six chickens and three goats all happily walking around the Mooi Bly estate.
Don’t expect over the top 5-star accommodation, unlimited free Wi-Fi in the room or excessive luxuries – there are none. Instead, expect a warm, authentic feeling of sleeping on a South African farm. Mooi Bly has six cottages, each one named after one of their wines. Each unit has a fully equipped kitchen, lounge/dining room, patio and braai (BBQ) facilities. And, all guests can enjoy the little 'Jacuzzi splash pool' and swimming pool, both filled with fresh mountain water.
The cottages can accommodate between two and six people each. Rates are between R220 and R420 per person per night, depending on length of stay, availability and numbers of guests in the cottage. Although most guests prefer self-catering, on request Liesbeth does prepare a farm breakfast to be enjoyed in the communal dining room.
Things to do in Paarl
Riding horses, playing golf and tasting wine – these are just three of some of Paarl’s fun things to do. Add off-road mountain biking, good restaurants and some exciting hiking trails, and you end up with an activity packed weekend in one of the less discovered spots in the Cape’s winelands. Somewhat less touristy than peers Franschhoek and Stellenbosch, and a bit more authentic, some might say.
If truth be told - and as much as we love some of these more regularly visited wine estates in the Franschhoek and Stellenbosch region, we personally also love to find these unique estates and accommodation in the winelands like Mooi Bly.
As much as people covet luxury during their holiday in Cape Town, the fact that Mooi Bly has so many visitors shows that some people prefer the more rural experience offered here. That, and the Belgian hospitality of course. We personally were more than delighted to discover our latest hidden gem and would come back any time. We left Liesbeth and Erik with those last famous Afrikaans words: “Totsiens en Mooi Bly!’
Check out our overview of wine farms and restaurants in the area.