Stellenbosch, a major player in the Western Cape wine region, is a quick 30-minute drive from Cape Town’s CBD. It’s here, on a property dating back to the 1600s, where you’re immersed in the “Spier Experience”. Let’s begin where all good stories should, at the beginning.
In 1679, Cape Colony’s Governor Simon van der Stel founded and self-named 25,000 sq km of fertile land, Stellenbosch (Stel’s Bush). In 1683, Arnoud Jansz, a German soldier serving the Dutch East India company, settled in Stellenbosch, on Spier farm. 9 years later, van der Stel signed the title deed handing ownership to Jansz and the groundwork for the Spier Experience commenced.
Passing through the hands of 12 different owners over 300 years, each contributing to the development of the property, ownership since 1993 has been with Richard “Dick” Enthoven.
With vision, commitment and funds, the Enthoven family have grown Spier Wine Farm into an estate promising the complete Spier experience.
On arriving at Spier, it becomes clear that there’s no good reason to leave.
The 300-hectare property comprises a hotel, restaurants, wine tasting, art exhibitions, walking, biking and Segway trails. Cattle and sheep are raised in the pastures and chickens are free range.
Produce gardens, vines, and a water treatment plant all contribute to the Spier sustainability mantra. Crackling fires warm in winter and 6 pools provide relief from the summer heat. Did I mention there’s no good reason to leave?
Let’s first satisfy the foodies. When you eat at Spier in any of their restaurants and bars you know you’re taking care of yourself. The fruit and veg are all organically grown. No chemical fertilisers or pesticides are used on the estate. The beef and sheep are grass-fed and the chooks have somewhere to camp at night after roaming the property freely.
Eight Restaurant’s farm-to-table menu and recycled décor follow the sustainability philosophy you’ll experience the more you explore.
Barring a few ingredients sourced from nearby farms and line-caught fish, all other items on Eight’s menu come from the property. The menu changes seasonally and the chef and chief gardener work closely, with the menu complementing the crop.
Expect roasted seasonal root vegetables, rainbow-coloured salads, char-grilled grass-fed beef, slow-roasted chickens and pickled, dried, smoked accompaniments that bring contrasting textures and flavours to the fresh ingredients.
Eight, an auspicious number in Chinese culture is tied to the earth element. The symbol also represents balance, cycles, harmony, infinity and abundance all represented in Spier’s approach to nature and business.
At Eight to Go next door, picnics are prepared with the same ethos. Pies, paté, farmhouse fare and freshly baked bread are included in a hamper selected or bespoke designed just for you.
A sneaky bottle of 21 Gables Chenin Blanc or Pinotage suits the picnic perfectly.
Baking daily and made to order in their wood-fired oven, Hoghouse Bakery’s bread options are endless. Providing the bread for the entire property, the bakery has a fulltime job.
Hoghouse BBQ is all about “low and slow”. “The Hog”, part BBQ-smokehouse-oven, slowly perfects Farmer Angus’ grass-fed meats over 16 hours producing succulent deliciousness for carnivores. Veggies are also prepared this way, not for quite as long, but don’t think Hoghouse is purely for meat lovers.
Pair Spier wines, refreshing craft beers and cider with your BBQ.
When at a wine farm, trying the wine is essential. 😉 Remember Arnoud Jansz? He was the first to plant vines on the property and produced his first drop in 1700. By the mid-1800s, owner John Bernhard Hoffman was shipping barrels internationally.
In the 1960s, red varietals, Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, and others were planted along with whites – Chenin Blanc, Colombard and Clairette Blanche, by owner at that time, Neil Joubert.
Interestingly, along with friends Frans Malan from Simonsig and Delheim’s Spatz Sperling, Joubert established the Stellenbosch Wine Route in 1971.
Available in the dedicated Tasting Room your mission, should you choose to accept, is to sample Spier’s many wine ranges.
Spier 1692 Signature is a fruit driven single varietal range made for instant gratification. Well priced good quality wines to drink on release.
Spier Creative Block is their most awarded range. Specially selected from vineyard blocks, the numbers 2, 3 and 5 on the labels represent the blend varietals in each wine. Grapes are hand-harvested, pre-cooled, de-stemmed and individually sorted to remove unwanted berries and maturation for varying periods produces wines with prominent fruit flavours.
Spier’s 21 Gables, named in honour of the 21 restored architectural gables on the farm, consists of 2 whites and 2 reds.
40-year-old vines used to produce the Chenin Blanc create fruit with thicker skins increasing the wines depth of flavour.
The multi-award-winning Sauvignon Blanc has noticeable spice with the expected citrus tones and fresh finish.
The Pinotage is a keeper, recommended for cellaring for 5-10 years, but who can wait that long when it’s delicious now.
Fermented in stainless steel and open top oak for 27 days then barrelled in French oak for a further 26 months, the Cab Sauv is barrel selected to ensure the perfect blend. A full-bodied gutsy red perfectly suited to a chargrilled grass-fed sirloin from Farmer Angus’ herd.
The Franz K. Smit range consists of a white and a red blend. This flagship, limited edition is not just named for the Cellar Master, but personally crafted by him. 2 decades at Spier has contributed to creating these internationally sought-after wines.
Spier wines are available to enjoy when dining at Eight, The Hotel Restaurant, Hoghouse BBQ & Bakery, by the bottle at Eight to Go and to take home at the wine cellar or follow this link to buy online.
With 300 hectares there’s a lot to explore. Start by lacing your comfy shoes or grabbing a bike from reception and follow the clearly marked 5 km and 10 km paths. Both begin at the hotel and follow a loop to return. The shorter route takes you past Spier’s Wastewater Treatment Plant.
It doesn’t come as a surprise that the Western Cape has serious water issues. Signs along the highway warn to limit usage and be mindful of restrictions. The Spier experience is built on sustainability and the water treatment plant allows the property to recycle and reduce their water use.
The first of its kind in South Africa, it processes up to a million litres at any given time. What the wastewater treatment plant can do in a day would take a river 350 km to purify.
The 10 km path continues out past the wine cellar, Stellenbosch Waldorf School, rows of vines to rejoin the 5 km path at the Tree-preneurs site.
Tree-prenuers is an environmental and community initiative empowering some of the Cape’s poorest with life-changing opportunities.
Tree-preneurs ranging in age from 5 – 90 nurture indigenous seedlings to grow to 30cm. At 30cm, the plants are then traded for vouchers for food, clothing, agricultural goods, tools, bicycles and educational support.
Spier provides the seedlings, compost and water from the farm to enable this initiative to continue on the property.
Eagle Encounters is an independent wildlife rehabilitation, conservation, education and eco-tourism centre. This non-profit is available 24/7 to rescue birds of prey from urban areas in and around Cape Town. Days to months of rehabilitation follow until final release.
You can take hikes with raptors observing their skills in their natural habitat. Eagle Encounters’ objectives meld well with Spier’s organic farming methods with raptors performing natural pest control.
To enhance your exploration of the farm, download the Spier voice-map walking tours app.
“Walk the Farm”, narrated by Spier’s family owner Mariota Enthoven, guides you through the farm explaining the family’s commitment to sustainability and eco-tourism.
“21 Gables”, researched and written by playwright Brett Bailey is a short tour around Spier’s historic farmyard, the Werf. Narrated by Sannie de Goede, a fictional slave woman, she transports you to 1836 and the eve of her freedom.
Using the old buildings, slave bell, trees and the Eerste River, Sannie takes you on a touching journey of rebellion against suffering, punishment and oppression, but there’s romance, and happiness, too.
You also come away with insight into the early days of winemaking in the Cape and an appreciation for the slaves’ artisanal abilities.
Avid art enthusiasts, Spier has a comprehensive South African contemporary collection. Each of the property’s buildings offers exhibition space for rotating collections and the grounds accommodate festivals and events throughout the year.
Spier Arts Academy offers a 3-year full-time apprenticeship focusing on mosaic and ceramic art, including tuition in drawing, art history, and business skills. Teachers from the Spilembergo School of Mosaics in Italy instruct and collaborate in the program.
Installed on the property, “The Dying Slave” is a 42.6sqm, 3D mosaic sculpture on 9 panels. Consisting of 250,000 pieces, it was conceived by Marco Cianfanelli and created by Spier Architectural Arts.
If that isn’t enough to keep you occupied then make a reservation with segwaytours.co.za. Glide through the farm to the first block of vineyards and learn about Spier’s biodynamic farming techniques with views of the Stellenbosch mountains.
Segway tours at sunset are a memorable way to end the day before settling down for your evening meal at any one of Spier’s restaurants. If Segways are unfamiliar, training is available prior to all tours.
To take home a memento of your Spier experience, the hotel gift shop has a range of carefully selected local products.
Ceramics, beading, silk prints, accessories, stationery and body products all present a uniquely South African gift for yourself or someone else.
Wine is, of course, available to take home or have delivered along with artisan sauces, chutneys, preserves and the famous local biltong. Much of the artwork displayed throughout the property is also on sale.
The 4-star Spier Hotel is situated next to the calming Eerste River. Designed in the manner of Bo-Kaap or Mediterranean villages where pedestrians have right of way, the 153 spacious rooms are gathered around six courtyards, each with its own swimming pool.
French doors open from ground level Garden Rooms taking in the rolling lawns.
Elevated rooms with large picture windows provide views of the river below and Helderberg mountains in the distance.
In keeping with the sustainability tenet, all rooms come with energy-efficient mini-bars and water-wise separate showers.
In-room dining is delivered directly from an abridged farm to table restaurant menu.
In winter cosy up with dinner by the slow-burning fire and in the warmer months enjoy breakfast on the patio by the pool.
For room availability and special offers, follow this link.
Finally, it would not be a complete Spier experience without indulging in a little me time.
The SPA at Spier will help melt away stress and smooth out tension knots. From detoxifying facials to hot stone massages, treatments include welcome tea to begin the de-stressing process. Check out the SPA menu here.
Getting to Spier.
On arrival at Cape Town Airport pick up a rental car, it’s the most convenient and economical way to see Cape Town and its surrounds.
Exit the airport and follow Settlers Way to the N2. Stay on the N2 for 10 minutes or until you reach Exit 33 – Baden Powell Drive. Spier Wine Farm is on the left, 10 minutes further.
For our articles on some wonderful #eat #drink #explore #shop & #stay experiences in Cape Town, please follow this link.
The Spier Experience isn’t simply an excuse for self-indulgence, it’s also an opportunity to see first hand how environmental and community-based projects come together to deliver positive outcomes. The Spier Experience: it’s a thing we love….
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