Best-kept secret in the Winelands?

Mention the Cape Winelands and areas such as Franschhoek, Paarl and Stellenbosch spring to mind, famous for their landmark wine estates and award-winning vintages.

The town of Wellington would also make the list with renowned wine estates such as Diemersfontein and Welbedacht. Yet one of the most beautiful of Wellington’s treasures is a name largely unknown to those outside the immediate area – the Bovlei Valley, tucked away in the shadows of the Hawekwa and Limietberg Mountains. Pam Golding Properties (PGP) reports that the valley is one of the Boland’s best-kept secrets - although perhaps not for very much longer, as a number of the local wineries are beginning to win local and international acclaim. Meanwhile property in the scenic area is fetching higher prices than almost any other part of Wellington.

PGP agent James Visser says farming activity in the Bovlei Valley began in the early 18th century, and the fertile soil and sheltered location have proved ideal for winemakers ever since. “Local farms include Bosmans, Doolhof, Nabygelegen, Andreas and De Compagne,” he says. “Their acclaim and popularity have been growing exponentially in recent years, and a number of their vintages achieved double gold status at the 2012 Michelangelo and Veritas awards. In the same year, Bosmans was awarded a trophy and the Fair Trade award at the International Wine Challenge in the UK, while Nabygelgen had two wines selected for inclusion in Queen Elizabeth’s Jubilee Lunch. These successes will surely be followed by increased local exposure and sales.”

Visser says the valley is dotted with many magnificent historical Cape Dutch homesteads, some of them dating back several hundred years. “Properties seldom come onto the market here, so rarity value means that they typically demand higher prices than the rest of Wellington. No family parts lightly with a property in such a magnificent setting, surrounded by towering mountains and rolling vineyards. Just four properties have changed hands in the Bovlei Valley in the past six years (across all agencies). Finding a home here is a rare luxury.” 

PGP currently has the sole mandate for a beautiful small farm in the valley, totalling 11ha in size. “Kleinfontein” is a working farm, currently cultivating vines, guavas and olives. Its large thatched homestead dates back to around 1830, and has been painstakingly restored to modern living standards. The name of the farm, meaning “small spring”, refers to a crystal clear spring which runs through the property and, together with a productive borehole, provides abundant irrigation for the vineyards and orchards, as well as potable water for the household.  The magnificent gardens include several mature oak trees.

The property is on the market at R9.7 million, and Visser says it would suit a variety of buyers, most notably those seeking a lifestyle farm in a setting of absolute peace and tranquillity. “This would be an ideal environment in which to raise a young family, with good clean air and ample opportunities for riding, hiking and enjoying the outdoors,” he says. “It would also suit an older couple looking for a productive country lifestyle before their retirement. Located 2km down a well-kept gravel road, it enjoys a sense of complete isolation, surrounded by all the abundance of nature. Yet it is close enough to Wellington to be accessible to schools, shops and medical care.”

The farm currently has 1ha under vines, and the grapes are sent to a neighbouring farm to produce around 5000 bottles per year of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, a Cabernet/Merlot blend and a Rosé. A further 1.5ha is planted with eight-year-old olive trees, currently producing both olive oil and pickled olives. There is a 2ha guava orchard and a further 3ha of grazing and paddocks for horses and cattle. The current owners produce their own cheese, yoghurt and other dairy products from their small herd.  The facilities are also ideally suited to equestrians, with four stables, a tack room and feed store, as well as accommodation for a groom. 

The main homestead offers some 500sqm of living space, including three large bedrooms in the main section, and a further two self-contained guest suites on the side of the house, each with its own private garden.  Spacious living areas with cosy fireplaces lead onto deep shady patios with expansive mountain views.  A farmhouse kitchen makes use of the abundant produce from the organic vegetable and herb garden.  The home has been carefully modernised without losing its historic character, with poplar beams and ceilings made from reeds harvested on the farm.

Other buildings on the farm include four labourers’ cottages, a milking parlour, storage and garden workshops, as well as a bottle maturation cellar.

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