In the undulating Polkadraai Hills, east of the town of Stellenbosch and in its eponymous Wine Appellation, lies a gem, The Asara Wine Estate and Hotel.
This award-winning wine estate. and its luxury hotel, has no Cape Dutch Houses, white walls or generations of family winemakers. It is a modern structure, with a cutting-edge winery, sitting on the banks of a man-made lake with a view over the Estate’s vineyards, and the mountains from Cape Hangklip across to Wellington. Sheer beauty on any given day.
Let me talk about the wine first on this one destination visit to the Stellenbosch Winelands. The vineyards are immaculately cared for by the team of Alan Cockcroft and William Bussell, aka Tokkie. They deal also with the surrounding fynbos keeping it pristine – the home of small antelope, caracal, Cape dwarf chameleons. There are owl boxes planted which provide breeding homes for the indigenous owls who take care of small rodents. Interestingly enough at times, owls will nest on the ground.
The Winemaking Team is under the guiding hand of Danielle le Roux CWM, who has Janette van Lille, with 9 harvest notches on her belt and Christiaan Nigrini, a 2015 graduate of Stellenbosch’s Viticultural Faculty at Elsenburg. The wines have repeatedly won awards on local and international wine expos, the Asara Chenin Blanc 2016 having been awarded the trophy for the Best New World White Wine at the Japan Wine Challenge. A well-educated Cellar Door team offer tastings in the Estate’s tasting Room which has a brilliant view of the barrel cellar – brilliant because of the huge glass chandeliers which hang there.
There are two ranges of wines on the Estate. The Speciality Range has the Flagship, the Avalon which is an Amarone style wine, The Bell Tower, a premium Bordeaux Style Blend, and the delicious Vine Dried Sauvignon Blanc.
The Vineyard Collection with a couple of exceptions is a range of single variety wines – even-handedly priced. The Award-Winning Chenin Blanc sits here as do the Cape Fusion, a Pinotage, Malbec and Shiraz blend – classical braai wine and other white and red wines.
The Reception Lounge has a great team of energetic young people who see to every whim and wish of the residents. Here you can also take tea and a variety of bakes and a light meal.
The Shop & Deli has a number of products of the Hotel Kitchen, a variety of home baked breads, macarons of every flavour and colour, biscuits [even for your dog] and chocolates, truffle and shard. There are a number of tables outside where guests relax and take coffee. The hotel serves knockout scones and the Bel Tower rings at 10h30 and 14h30 when the fresh scones arrive from the kitchen ovens, time your visit.
The hotel has three restaurants, which overlook the man-made lake. Raphael’s serves what must be one of the best buffet breakfasts in the winelands. Mise en Place is a fine Dining Restaurant, the kitchen team of which is headed up by the newly arrived Hugo Snyman who is making his mark on the menu. The Vinotheque here has an impressive wine collection.
For me, the most exciting restaurant is the Sansibar Gin Bar and Bistro. Central to the menu is a large red wood fired pizza oven in which a wide range of pizzas and main course dishes are prepared. Vegetarians are catered for with a couple of dishes and a superb Melanzane Parmigiana. The Gin selection is the largest in the country with over 275 local and imported gins, some small production craft gins and one or two of the old favourites. The wonderful team of mixologists can mix these up for you with a range of 13 tonics and present you with a large glass, blue in colour with fruit and umbrellas or something small, tinkly and sippy.
The accommodation consists of 41 bedrooms and suites all of which have been renovated in 2015 and 2016 have breath-taking view over the Estate’s vineyards, the mountains and offer every luxury to the hotel’s guests.
A visit to Asara, is a joy. Fabulous wines, lovely place, sublime wines, excellent food, and such warm and friendly people.
Visit the Asara Website – CLICK HERE