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Officially on the Franschhoek Wine Route in the Drakenstein Valley, the Babylonstoren Wine Estate is somewhat closer to Paarl, however, those in Franschhoek are unlikely to give up this must-visit estate in a hurry. Babylonstoren is an historic wine farm dating back to 1690 with a beautifully restored manor house and outbuildings that include an original slave bell. These buildings are privately owned and cannot be visited but the rest of the farm is a treat and attracts thousands of visitors annually.
First stop on the farm is a wine tasting under the trees while watching the donkeys, peacocks and other birds strutting the farmyard. The estate’s wine offerings are of superior quality and produced over generations by erudite wine makers.
Next, pop in to the scented room for a fragrance sensation. The perfumed products are manufactured on the farm.
The adjoining barn houses a refrigerated charcuterie and cheese station containing imported and local brands, along with a bakery and curio shop.
Finally you enter the gardens with a small glass display of ancient pottery discovered on the farm, ponds with waterblommetjies (edible water lilies) and rows of fruit trees with the occasionally giant pumpkin growing between the trees. The garden consists of 3.5ha of fruit and vegetables formally designed and divided into clusters. All produce is naturally grown and used for the onsite restaurants. Walking through the garden is relaxing and around every corner is a surprise, from an insect hotel to a prickly pear maze.
The 2 restaurants offer a garden-to-table food experience; the Babel restaurant menu is innovative, the meals cutting edge and designed around the garden plants in season, while the Green Room offers deli-style meals and sweet delights. The French conservatory at the Green Room is extremely popular with large groups. Expect to find piles of fruit for patrons to sample while waiting for their meal.
The onsite spa offers all forms of body treatments, including the ancient Turkish hamman treatment.
Interestingly, the previous owner of the farm has the original land grant for the property handed to his progenitor by the Dutch East India Company commander Simon van der Stel in 1690.