Bodyboard down the Olifants, sleep in a bedouin tent, hike a pristine trail
Holden Manz Wine Estate
A mix of natural beauty, hospitality, great food and bloody good wine
“There’s monkey trouble again,” says Wayne Buckley. He looks east towards the orchards to where a symphony of squeaks can be heard. Wayne is the marketing manager of Holden Manz Wine Estate and he’s taking me on a tour this bright morning in Franschhoek. “Nothing to worry about,” says Wayne, seeing my quizzical look. “They just want attention.”
Well, the estate certainly has my attention. Starting off at the guesthouse, my eyes flit from paintings, to sculptures and ornaments. It’s an eclectic, modern collection, which has obviously been chosen with a studied eye. An eye that belongs to Migo Manz, the German half of Holden Manz (the British side is Gerard Holden). Here, white minimalist design ethoses meet the inspired art, and there are plenty of comfy couches to curl up on. There are four rooms, each elegantly kitted out with beautiful views. Included are buffet breakfasts as well as high tea, which can be enjoyed alfresco at long wooden tables.
Right next door to the guesthouse is the spa. Only Africology products are used; a 100 percent natural and locally made range. Also on offer is the full whack of treatments, and soon, a yoga studio as well as massage lessons.
Previously known as Klein Genot, the new owners have rebranded the estate with a logo of a screen-printed elephant. A nod to Franschhoek’s history: as it was once known as Oliphant’s Hoek: when wild elephants roamed.
When life gives you lemons
Our tour has taken us into the blossom-scented orchard; complete with buzzing bees, dappled light and yellow lemons. Wayne tells me they’re a popular estate for weddings, and that the bride and groom will walk through here to the bridge over Stony Brook river.
There are also stone picnic tables dotted along the river bank—favourites for couples tying the knot. The most popular though is the symbolic space where two rivers meet.
Just a two minute drive from here is the wine cellar and restaurant, Franschhoek Kitchen.
Bjorn to be wild
At just 24, Bjorn Dingemans is the head chef. He’s planted a vegetable and herb garden for the restaurant and his aim is to be completely sustainable with wild, organic produce.
From where we’re sitting on the restaurant’s balcony we can see the vines, and unusually, some tables have been set up in them.
I’m with the sales manager and tasting host Guy Kedian, who wants to do the wine-tasting with lunch. He has a refreshing approach to wine: “I don’t talk about wafts of toasty vanilla. Wine is like music. People want to have fun, not an education. I always remind myself that this is their leisure time.”
We’re chatting over glasses of the estate’s rosé; 100 percent cabernet sauvignon. It has a meaty grip and a silky finish, and is most certainly standing up to the earthy mushroom risotto in front of us. “This is swimming pool wine,” adds Guy. “The kind that makes you want to lounge in the sun all day.”
“Wine should create memories,” he continues. “Nobody will remember talk about east-facing vineyards, but if you give them a fun tasting, who knows, five years later they may see the same bottle, and be transported back to that day.”
We move onto lamb chops and cabernet sauvignon.Tender and light. Bjorn’s style is evident; the focus is on Italian food inspired by home-grown ingredients. Also, all of the estate’s wine is available at the restaurant as well as other Franschhoek wines.
Late morning stretches into late afternoon. We drink Holden Manz’s award-winning wines, tell jokes, and ponder the meaning of the universe—you know, all of the usual ingredients that make for a long convivial lunch.
To finish off we eat cheese and drink the estate’s port. It’s a magic match; and is equally enchanting with the gooey chocolate mousse we devour for dessert. As I drive away, I wonder about the monkeys; and if they too were pondering the meaning of the universe. Nah, they were most likely telling jokes too.
By Malu Lambert
*wine-tastings are free and the estate is also renowned for their parties: from fondue nights to mad Halloween shindigs.