BEING the oldest wine route – though not the oldest producing region – in the Western Cape with 130 members, it’s hard to imagine there is space for a new kid on the block.
But there is. On the Devon Valley road that leads to the House of JC Le Roux, you’ll find Brenaissance, which has been open just over a week. Well, Café Blanc de Noir has; the functions venue and overnight accommodation have been doing business since July. Still, it’s a brand spanking new venture benefiting from a prime location that is easily visible from the road.
The farm is owned by Hayley and Tom Breytenbach, a couple who
do things their own way.
While the grapes are grown on the farm, the wines are made by five winemakers. The label designs were drawn by Hayley, or “H”, as Tom affectionately calls her, and the wine names have a story behind them – King Of Hearts, Queen Of Clubs, Jack Of Diamonds, Full House, Knight Of White, Lady H and, of course, Lord T.
Ask them to explain when you pop in. They’re a super-friendly couple who are happy to chat.
Café Blanc de Noir – “white from black” in the wine world, but also a description of the classy black and white decor that runs throughout – specialises in pizzas.
We tried H’s recommendation of the two most popular so far: fig, Danish feta, biltong, avo and rocket drizzled with a balsamic reduction; and Cajun chicken with chorizo, red onion, mushroom, mixed greens and chilli-infused oil. The pizzas are rectangular, thin-based, cooked in a wood oven, and recommended.
They also come with eating instructions and wine-pairing suggestions. Built right into the plum orchards that share the land with the vineyards, the café is open Wednesdays to Sundays for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with live music on Friday evenings.
As a participant in the Summer in Stellenbosch Valley Festival, Brenaissance hosts a pizza and wine pairing evening on Thursday at 6pm (booking essential) and a family fun day on Saturday. Call 082 857 4289 or e-mail info@ brenaissance.co.za for more details.
Our day had begun earlier at the newly-revamped House of JC Le Roux where we were treated to a sneak preview of its festival specials.
Along with the wide variety of tastings and pairings already available, for the duration of the festival there will be a number of different experiences on offer, for two days at a time.
Today and tomorrow visitors can match a sushi duo with a splash of JC Le Roux Brut. “Do you like it?” they asked me. Considering they had just handed me two of my favourite things in the world, the question was redundant.
On Wednesday and Thursday, a glass of sauvignon blanc will be served with a “South African Chic” trio – a sosatie with droëwors, preserved fig and Camembert; a mini biltong quiche and a bite-sized crisp of Melba toast with carpaccio. It’s hard to recommend one over another, but the Friday and Saturday combo is amazing – three semi-sweets paired with (in reverse order) a decadent, moist chocolate brownie, a milk chocolate-coated coconut ice, and a red velvet “lollipop” encased in white chocolate and dusted with sparkly pink sugar granules. Wrapped in cellophane and tied with a pink ribbon this was a wicked and wonderful dilemma of having your cake and eating it.
The tastings are R50 a pop. Booking is essential – the tasting room is always busy. Call 021 865 8200, visit www. jcleroux.co.za or www. facebook.com/TheHouseof JCLeRoux.
The new look includes an outside deck, the gorgeous pink and sparkly-mirrored La Fleurette tasting room where you can order bubbly by the glass, and an update for the restaurant upstairs.
We ended our day in the winelands with a visit to Jordan, which will be offering safari-style vineyard tours and tastings during the festival.
The views across the valley and vineyards are jaw-droppingly beautiful and not to be missed. Even on lower ground, at the award-winning Jordan Restaurant (No 3 in the latest Eat Out Top 10) run by George Jardine, the view is worth the visit.
Since we’d had canapés at JC Le Roux and lunch at Brenaissance, we finished with dessert at Jordan. My friend had a medley of summer berries, while I opted for the honey and poppy seed soufflé, which is finished at the table with crème anglaise and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It may look like a big scary dessert, but it’s as light as air and angel kisses.
All three of these venues are part of Summer in Stellenbosch Valley 2012, which offers a host of family-friendly activities at 16 popular wine farms until December 17.
And as if eating and drinking in situ weren’t enough, visitors will also be able to win a car boot full of Stellenbosch Valley wines by entering the Connect The Dots Competition. By taking part in events, buying wine, or having lunch at participating restaurants and estates you collect stickers, which are then used to fill an entry card.
l Some Holiday EsCape Times activities are sponsored by the suppliers.