For years Vergenoegd estate on the outskirts of the Stellenbosch wine lands was famous for the daily parade of its flock of Indian Runner ducks and... well, not much else. The wines? Bold but unremarkable. The food? Forgettable. The historic buildings? Crying out for a lick of paint.
But that began to change in 2015, when German businessman Dr. Peter Löw took ownership of the farm that had been in the Faure family since 1820 and traces its history back to 1696. He added his surname to the sign at the gate and set about reinventing one of the oldest homesteads in the Cape.
Today, after a flurry of new investment, Vergenoegd Löw is one of the most attractive destinations in the Stellenbosch winelands. That change is evident the moment you sweep through the new gates and down a curving tree-lined driveway towards the homestead. Here landscaped gardens are framed by row upon row of newlyplanted vineyards — evidence of the major investment into the future of the farm.
Wander further on and you’ll find the historic manor house — 1773 reads the date on the gable — which hosts tutored tastings of the growing portfolio of estate wines. With a bright new coat of paint and interiors beautifully redone by Source Architecture (seek out the quirky cowbell chandelier and eye-catching portraits in the lounge) it’s another sign that this estate has turned a corner. A few steps from the historic manor, you'll find an intimate new spa, with three treatment rooms offering a range of wine lands-inspired journeys.
It’s all part of the sensitive reinvention of Vergenoegd Löw, which now includes a charming boutique hotel that opened in December 2022.
In keeping with the low-key atmosphere of the estate, the hotel’s nine rooms and suites are spread out across the farm, offering a welcome dollop of peace and privacy. The rooms all have a common design thread, but the varying locations and size allow you to choose a suite depending on the depth of your pockets.
The Deluxe Lodge Rooms may be the entry-level option, but it’s certainly no hardship to stay in one of these four luxurious bolt-holes. Each includes a small private terrace, complete with jacuzzi, and most offer garden or vineyard views. Sharing a central entrance hall it’s also an ideal option for families and small groups travelling together.
There’s a similar approach at the Vineyard Suites, which are set 100 meters apart from the main homestead and within the gardens of the Owner’s Villa, itself available for rental. Decorated in a warm contemporary aesthetic of wood tones, woven headboards and minimalist furniture, the four Vineyard Suites are the Goldilocks option here, with outdoor plunge pools, private terraces and wonderful views of the Helderberg and surrounding vineyards.
If those pockets are deep, the pick of the bunch is the Presidential Suite, more of a free-standing villa than a mere suite. Whatever terminology you choose, it’s enormous: an opulent 140-square-meter bolt-hole you’ll be oh-so-happy not to leave. There’s a private dining area, separate lounges and a fireplace shared between the living room and master bedroom. But the real joy on a summer day is the private terrace wrapping around the 12-metre pool. Too chilly to swim? There’s always the jacuzzi.
But accommodation is only half the experience at Vergenoegd Löw, and hungry guests aren’t likely to leave good reviews on Tripadvisor.
This is where restaurateur Bertus Basson comes in. As part of his ever-expanding empire of eateries in the wine lands, Basson now operates two restaurants at Vergenoegd Löw, in partnership here with head chef Drikus Brink. The upscale Clara’s Barn puts a fine-dining spin on traditional South African cuisine, while the menu at Geuwels, the more relaxed daytime option, offers up a selection of small plates with plenty of local inspiration to be enjoyed at al fresco tables beneath the oaks. And, if you get there in the morning for breakfast, you’ll still get to see the daily parade of runner ducks.
It’s about the only thing that’s remained the same at Vergenoegd Löw, a historic estate brimming with new energy which is once again firmly on the map of where to stay, sip and sup in the Stellenbosch wine lands.