A striking revamp has made Glenelly one of the must-visit estates in the Cape Winelands this summer
It’s easy to drive right past Idas Valley, the small corridor of vineyards squeezed between Stellenbosch and the southern slopes of the Simonsberg. But take a turn left off the Helshoogte Road, and this gorgeous hidden corner of the Winelands soon makes its presence felt.
After three decades at the helm of acclaimed Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande winery in Bordeaux, the combination of beautiful scenery and stellar terroir is what prompted May de Lencquesaing to purchase a 123ha farm here in 2003, at the grand age of 78. Today the French connection runs clearly through the revamped estate, which boasts a stylish new tasting room and bistro offering wonderful vineyard views.
As you’d expect from an owner with deep roots in Bordeaux, the focus at Glenelly is on noble red cultivars, with some 60ha planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. There’s a little Chardonnay planted here too, and it’s certainly put to good use by winemaker Luke O’Cuinneagain in both the terroir-driven Glass Collection and Estate Reserve ranges. A taste of Glenelly’s flagship Cabernet Sauvignon, aptly named Lady May, is also not to be missed.
These are all best explored on the range of tasting journeys conducted in the gleaming new tasting room atop the modern winery. There’s a contemporary aesthetic here, from the granite bar to picture windows letting in plenty of light and vineyard views. A range of tasting experiences are offered, allowing visitors to sample both current releases and previous vintages. Tastings of aged wines from Chateau Pichon Lalande are also available on request.
Luke’s wines are delicious on their own, but “wines are made to pair with food, so introducing a culinary experience at Glenelly was the logical next step on our journey,” says May. With Christophe Dehosse, of Joostenberg Bistro fame, at the pass it’s little wonder the food is superb. Expect a modern take on classic bistro dishes – a Cape bouillabaisse with croutons, perhaps, or pork cheeks braised in red wine – alongside a wine list encompassing both current and past Glenelly vintages. There’s a charming bistro feel indoors, but on a sunny summer’s day you’ll want to be out on the spacious terrace.
Before you leave, stop in for a peek at May’s 160-piece Glass Collection, which takes guests on a journey through 2,000 years of glass-making. Transforming simple ingredients into a memorable work of art? The parallels with the wonderful wines of Glenelly are easy to see.
See for yourself
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Words: Richard Holmes | Images: Supplied