For many visitors to the Cape winelands the workaday district of Paarl is often seen as the poorer cousin to the buzzy student-filled streets of Stellenbosch or moneyed charm of Franschhoek.
But it’s a label that’s starting to change, as a crop of dynamic new food, wine and hospitality destinations make their mark beneath the granite shimmer of Paarl rocks. And on the slopes of the Du Toitskloof Mountains, Brookdale Estate is certainly setting the bar high for bespoke winelands getaways.
Space to breathe
Brookdale Estate stretches across 67-hectares of mountainside, with trails for walking and running winding between clipped vineyards and wild fynbos. Brought your bike? There’s a network of gravel tracks to explore, or simply pedal across the valley to Paarl Mountain Nature Reserve. Surrounding the manor house are exquisite indigenous gardens and landscaped lawns to offer a touch of formality beneath the mountain backdrop. Don’t miss a wander through the wonderful kitchen garden to see what’s in season, or get the kids to help the chefs pick fresh greens for dinner.
Brookdale Estate is run by Gary and Yvonne Coetzee, who bring years of high-end hotel experience — including years at Singita — to the property. Their meticulous attention to detail and generous welcome truly defines a stay in the Brookdale Manor House.
While Yvonne spends each waking moment ensuring guests’ every wish is granted, as executive chef Gary is in the kitchen creating an endless array of delicious plates. Afternoons at the poolside may see a platter of Mediterranean tapas magically appear at your lounger.Dinners vary from al fresco feasts served poolside to multi-course tasting menus that let Gary show a bit of creative verve. Flexibility is the watchword here, and from vegetarians to picky kids, Gary and his kitchen crew go out of their way to ensure a flavour-packed stay. Whatever you do, don’t miss the excellent breakfast shakshuka.
Not to be outdone, Brookdale’s dynamic young winemaker Kiara Scott is fast making a name for herself with an impressive collection of estate wines. There are two ranges, with the Mason Road collection pitched as an everyday lifestyle range. It’s made using fruit from the younger vines on the farm — most of the vineyards have been replanted — but there’s no less care taken with the wine, and the Rosé is a stunner for late-summer sipping.
But it’s her Brookdale Chenin Blanc that’s really made wine-lovers sit up and take notice. Made from the oldest vineyard block on the farm — close on 40 years in the ground — it’s a layered and elegant example of SA’s signature white grape.
Even more exciting are the field blends that were recently planted — a red and white block each featuring up to 20 varietals in a single parcel, expressing the complexity of the vineyard and the terroir of Brookdale in a single pour. Watch this space.
Sleep in style
Though there’s a wonderful Cape Dutch charm to the Manor House, the fact that it’s newly-built — and not a heritage building — means the spacious suites come with all the mod cons you could ask for. The entire property can accommodate up to 12 guests, with five elegant bedrooms in the main house and an additional external suite. Each suite is almost embarrassingly spacious, with expansive bathrooms and dedicated dressing rooms. Fast Wi-Fi, unobtrusive flat-screen televisions and USB charging points are nice tech-savvy touches. But also keep a keen eye on the walls, where you’ll find an array of works by celebrated local artists.
Bring the family, or come on your own
While the Manor House was originally intended for exclusive-use bookings, one happy side-effect of the pandemic is that travellers now can book individual rooms for short breaks. It means you’ll be sharing the communal areas with other guests, but there’s more than enough space — two lounges, a library, terrace couches, a separate pool house and more — to find a quiet corner if you don’t fancy meeting fellow travellers.
However, the Manor House is also an unforgettable destination for a post-Covid-19 multigenerational get-together. With Gary and Yvonne on hand to cater your every whim, you and our beloveds can get on with making up for lost time.