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SWM Boschendal FAM Trip

March 2022
Alice Baker

As we made our way towards the Franschhoek valley the shadow of the mountains became larger and punctuated the landscape of vineyards and fruit orchards. Our driver from was a fountain of knowledge and had already given us a brief history of the various estates by the time we turned into the gates to see the beautiful white Boschendal sign greeting us.

Boschendal was established in 1685 and the heritage of this working farm is instantly apparent as you drive up toward the main manor house, an iconic focal point, which now houses the Norval Art Gallery. The Small WorldMarketing team has worked with Boschendal since late 2019 and since then have been piecing together our knowledge of the property from Anita’s family holidays and from our regular calls with the team here. However, after two years of postponing, our time had finally come to visit Boschendal and finally meet the dynamic teams behind this incredible organisation.

Activities on the Farm

We have always known about the abundance of activities on offer at Boschendal, however truly only realised when, true to form, we wanted to experience everything in just a two-night stay! Wine tasting, picnics, farm tours, art gallery browsing, shopping, hiking, mountain biking, horse-riding, wild swimming… clearly we needed more time. Not to mention when staying over a Friday Boschendal’s main Werf area becomes a buzzing night market with delicious food and drink. Guests, both local and international, can settle into a bean-bag, sip on Boschendal’s award winning wines and listen to live music, needless to say we were gutted to be flying out of Cape Town on the Friday night flight.

Evidence of the working farm is all around and we loved passing the orchard trees heavy with fruit and tractors towing carts of grapes, ready for their journey to the glasses of thirsty visitors.

We began our stay as all should, sat in the sun and sipping on a crisp glass of Sauvignon Blanc. Following our wine tasting, we picked up our basket, unfolded our blanket and sat under the trees for one of Boschendal’s famous picnics, a Valentine’s Day special. Couples snuggled up under the trees, tucking into the farm fresh salads, rose in hand, a live band the soundtrack to their romantic afternoon. Families played lawn games behind us and we decided that this had to be the perfect introduction to Boschendal and all it encompasses.

We forwent the more adrenalin inducing activities and opted for a bracing morning hike, perfect for anyone needing to dust off the cobwebs(likely caused by the delicious wine). All happy for the opportunity to at tempt to work off *some* of the food and drink, we set off with our guide Brandan towards the base of the Simonsberg Mountains. As the landscape became more rugged and we moved towards the shadow of the mountains, Brandan chatted with us about the history of the farm. Born and raised here, Brandan knew so much about the development of the farm through its 300+ year life and allowed us a glimpse into the interesting and sometimes tragic history. We passed ruins of old slave quarters and even came across an attempted silver mine and as we turned to look back over the landscape we finally could grasp just how vast the estate really is.

Refuelled by a heavenly breakfast, we were ready for the next activity and headed down to the stables to meet Victoria & Elizabeth our trusty steeds. A serene way to see the farm, our horses took us past fruit trees and vines as well as past Boschendal’s model farm. Involving a completely circular concept, animals are moved onto a plot to graze and of course do what they do after they have eaten! The plot is rotated between pigs, sheep, chickens and finally cows come to work the animal dung into the land. This perfectly prepares the land for crops and negates the need for fertiliser and other chemical substances to be brought in.

Accommodation

During our stay we were hosted in the Retreat, there are 18 of these two-bedroom, one bathroom cottages, set off in their own little ‘village’. We enjoyed a cooling dip in the natural pool, breakfast at the main dining room and a quiet night in at our private braai area. Often used for large wedding or corporate groups there are plenty of communal spaces to relax here. The cottages in the Retreat will be undergoing full refurbishment and reconfiguration and we were lucky enough to sneak a peak at one already completed. The addition of an extra bathroom as well as large front and back decked areas means the space here is much more functional and the new interiors adds a sleek, modern touch. No matter how far from the main area, incredibly efficient porters collected guests for dinner or activities.

Retreat Refurbishment - all cottages to be renovated in this style with added bathroom

Despite the farm being almost full, we managed to view a number of cottages from the one-bedroom Werf Cottages with their heritage style to the six-bedroom Mountain Villa with its sweeping views of the farm and luxurious new interiors. Every cottage has the option for self-catering so a trip to the farm shop and a traditional South African ‘braai’ should be part of anyone’s itinerary.  

Dining

Even with self-sufficiency on the cards at Boschendal, all meals can also be enjoyed at The Deli or Werf Restaurants. The café-style relaxed vibe at the Deli make this a local favourite for brunch and the wood-fired pizzas are the perfect chilled out evening meal. While the Werf restaurant offers a more formal dining option with a sharing style menu and beautiful views over the garden. We recommend lunch here followed by a garden tour to see where your food was sourced.

Our time at Boschendal was short but so sweet. We felt incredibly lucky to finally enjoy a wine with a now long-standing client and have returned to chilly England with sunshine in our hearts (and lots of shopping in our suitcases). The farm buzzes with activity from morning til evening and is constantly innovating to expand the experience for their local and international guests, there are so many exciting developments which we cannot wait to share… watch this space!