In the early 1970s when I had just returned from the UK and cookery school, I cooked a meal at De Grendel for that political icon, Leader of the Opposition, Sir de Villiers and Lady Graaff for an important political dinner. It was all very formal and black tie. The great love of Sir Div’s life was his prize winning dairy herd – De Grendel Wines was a dream to be fulfilled in the future and in the hands of his son, the current owner, Sir David Graaff and grandson De Villiers.
Today things are more relaxed at the beautiful manor house of De Grendel which is one of Cape Town’s oldest farms and sits majestically elevated on the slopes of the Tygerberg surrounded by its vineyards on high sea facing slopes and has arguably one of the best wine land views of Table Mountain. De Villiers Graaff now lives there with his wife and four young children.
These Tygerberg slopes, which face the setting sun, offer cooling breezes off the fresh Atlantic Ocean only 7 kilometres away with its cold Benguela Current from Antarctica. The breezes ameliorate the heat of summer in the De Grendel Vineyards allowing for a longer hanging time for the bunches before they reach perfect ripeness. Longer hang time means better colour and flavour in De Grendel’s sublime wines.
The De Grendel Cellar
Cellarmaster Charles Hopkins has been at De Grendel since 2005, around the time the first wines were produced on the Estate. He is one of South Africa’s most highly regarded winemakers both in the country and abroad and a member of the Cape Winemakers Guild. Says Charles “When I got here I had some serious plans for De Grendel. It’s been a challenge and an adventure and I love both, so I’ve been having a lot of fun working with this efficient and well-trained team and we’ve exceeded the goals we set out to achieve which makes it all the more rewarding. Quality is not a goal, it’s a journey.” He adds that De Grendel has good soil and combined with all the other factors, poses exciting opportunities and cites that it is a ‘huge responsibility” working with the Graaff family and its current incumbent Sir David Graaff. Our goal is to produce some of the best wines in the country from the Durbanville area and I feel we have achieved this.”
Also at De Grendel from the first vintage is Elzette du Preez whose true passion is winemaking. Qualified at Elsenburg Agricultural College, Stellenbosch, Elzette has harvested in California, toured the major French wine regions, as well as Marlborough, New Zealand, focusing specifically on Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.
De Grendel Wines
The estate’s medal and trophy cabinet fairly rattles with awards, both local and international. The estate produces a superb Sauvignon Blanc and a selected vineyard Sauvignon called Koetshuis. The De Grendel Pinot Gris, made more in the French than the Italian style is one of my favourite from the Cape winelands.
The Op die Hoog Chardonnay is a benchmark for this variety, grown on a high cool family vineyard in the Witzenberg, a wine appellation newly created for this wine. The De Grendel Pinot Noir while essentially made from Pinot Noir from De Grendel, uses grapes from the Witzenberg. There is a double brace of reds, with a fabulous Bordeaux blend called Rubaiyat, a Shiraz, a Merlot and a subtle smooth Pinot Noir.
In summer, or indeed out of summer, the De Grendel Rosé, a blend of Pinotage and Cabernet Sauvignon will be the chosen drink with salads and delicate summery foods.
De Grendel has a relationship with Habits Fashion Boutique, well known Cape Town fashion guru Jenny le Roux’s emporium. Great wine and fabulous fashion are natural partners. CLICK HERE here for more Habits information.
The De Grendel Restaurant
A glass-walled kitchen with wrap-around views of the city, Table Mountain and the De Grendel Vineyards is the domain of De Grendel’s dashing hunter-gatherer chef Ian Bergh and his kitchen brigade.
“Here at De Grendel it is all about beautiful, simple, tasty food. My style of cooking is making the kind of food we all love to eat, uncomplicated and all about the ingredients,” says Ian. No slave to fad and food fashions, chef Ian Bergh is an original locavore with a great respect for the seasons and their bounty. His kitchen on this historic working farm is a gathering place for farm produce: from freshly-made yoghurt to honey; Jerusalem artichokes from the kitchen garden and guinea fowl to pasture-raised beef and lamb.
His hands-on training and experience are rooted in classical cuisine, having worked with Franck Dangereux at La Colombe as his sous chef. He credits Franck as the most formative culinary influence. Today Ian pairs his technical skills and inventive nature with a flair for food that’s as imaginative as it is comforting. He further honed his skills at Kurland, Five Flies and Pure at Hout Bay Manor.
Knowing his way around the nooks and crannies of the Cape culinary scene, he nurtures his relationship with local suppliers and food artisans. He is also an expert butcher (lamb shoulder is his favourite meat cut) with a special interest in artisanal sausage-making.
With the Atlantic Ocean in view, it comes as no surprise that some of Ian’s favourite ingredients include the often overlooked SASSI friendly angelfish, mullet and gurnard.
Ian and restaurateur Jonathan Davies, co-founder of De Grendel Restaurant, have built a solid reputation for seriously good food since opening in May 2012, receiving rave reviews from critics and diners alike.
Aside from the more formal eating experience in the Restaurant, Ian offeres delicious cheese and charcuterie platters are offered on the verandah for wine tasters.
The De Grendel Restaurant, which is closed on Mondays, is open from Tuesday to Saturday for Lunch from 12:00 to 14:30 and for dinner from 19:00 to 21:30. Sunday lunches are served from 12:00 to 14:30.
The De Grendel Tasting Room
Open for tastings and sales every day except Christmas and New Years day
Monday to Friday from 09h00 to 17h00, Saturdays and Sundays from 10h00 to 16h00.
Do look out for the beautiful Nguni Cattle and the enchanting goats and springbok on your way up to the tasting room. Also don’t miss the antique cannons!
Click here for more information about De Grendel Wines.
Winegrowing area: Durbanville
Owner: Sir David Graaff
Winemaker: Charles Hopkins with Elzette du Preez
M14, near Panorama
P.O. Box 15282 Panorama 7506
Western Cape, South Africa
Telephone +27 21 558 6280