The long iconic pine tree avenue is one of the landmarks in Stellenbosch. As is the case with landmarks, you often drive past it’s comforting familiarity without actually visiting. Well, next time, be sure to make Neethlingshof your destination. The homestead, which houses the restaurant, is a beautifully preserved example of Cape Dutch Architecture. However, it is the history that I found particularly interesting. The farm was acquired in 1788 by Charles Marais and his 18-year old wife Maria. Charles passed away shortly after, leaving her with their three young children. This woman showed remarkable strength by taking on the winemaking responsibilities to become one of the first female winemakers of the time. She extended the vines and ran the entire operation with only the help of her two teenage sons and daughter. Maria eventually sold the farm to her son and son-in-law, affectionately called Lord Neethling, and the name Neethlingshof was born. The stature of Maria’s character in running a successful business, whilst also lovingly raising her family, seems to permeate into the present-day wine estate with its robust selection of wines, its warm and generous hospitality and its state-of-the-art restaurant and wine tasting centre.
The Restaurant at Neethlingshof is one of the very few around Stellenbosch that are open in the evenings. Usually, and disappointingly, most wine estates close their doors at 5pm, so this already elevates Neethlingshof head and shoulders above its counterparts. The restaurant manager Allan Ware and Head Chef Brendan Stein, have created a dining experience that is sophisticated enough to be world class but also relaxed and varied enough for a mid-week meal.
We enjoyed our meal at Neethlingshof tremendously! I was blown away by the pork belly char siu, which was succulent with the most incredible and intense asian, barbeque style flavour. It takes a good pallet to create side dishes that completely compliments the main element of the dish and I LOVED the pickled red cabbage and the little onion shells filled with the sesame dressing. It was one of those dishes that left me savouring every mouthful. My husband’s desert of malva pudding was absolutely delicious and decadent. Who knew you could make a malva pudding look so elegant, complimented with Amarula anglaise, spiced apricots, divine caramel ice cream, raspberries and vanilla crumb – superb!
The estate really has a lot to offer, whether it’s a romantic meal for two, a special celebration, enjoying live music with friends, or a family outing. Every Friday evening between 6pm and 9pm (until the 12th of April) there is live music under The Oaks at Neethlingshof and every Wednesday (year-round) there is Wine Down Wednesdays – live music at the Wine Tasting Centre from 5:30 – 8:30pm. Pizzas, platters and light meals are available. You can either enjoy a traditional wine tasting, or try something unique – Neethlingshof’s ‘Flash Food, Slow Wine Pairing’ where the wine is paired with bite-sized portions of fast food with a twist. The cost is R120 per person and it includes five portions paired with five wines. Booking is essential – call 021883 8988. If you have little ones in tow why not treat them to the accompanying Kids Pairing – cost R60 per child, which includes three bite sized dishes paired with three drinks. My brother and sister-in law got married at Neethlingshof on the first day of this century and the setting was just perfect. From personal experience I can say that it is a very special place to have your celebration or wedding – to discuss your wedding or special event, call 021 883 8966.
Neethlingshof estate is beautiful, historic and welcoming; it offers value for money as well as experiences that memories are made of. Be sure to add it to your memory-box.
Mond, Tuesd, Thursd – 9am – 5pm
Wed, Frid, Sat – 9am -9pm
Sunday: 12pm -4pm – lunch only, Sunday buffet and a la carte menu.