Before I wax lyrical about the glorious gardens of the Steenberg Farm, let me first share a bit of history about this marvellous establishment in the Constantia Valley that I was privileged to visit last weekend…
Steenberg Farm is as old as the stoney hills that surround it – in fact it's the oldest wine farm in the Cape Peninsula. In 1682, 30 years after Jan van Riebeeck alighted from the Drommedaris in his weird hat and buckled shoes, Simon van der Stel awarded this vast piece of prime land to one Catharina Ras, a determined German woman who braved the high seas, dressed as a man, to forge a new life for herself in the Cape of Good Hope. Today the Farm that she established comprises the 5 star Steenberg Hotel, the two restaurants Catharina's and Bistro 1682, and a top notch winery that produces one of my favourite wines as you know, the Nebbiolo red. But enough of the history lesson already – let me move swiftly on and tell you more about the greenery that envelops this exceptional establishment that oozes class and heritage.
Bettie, who has been tending to the Steenberg gardens for a decade and who takes guests on regular tours, led us around neat hedges, over manicured lawns and down paths through indigenous flower beds and herb gardens that have been created over time around the hotel's stately Cape Dutch buildings. Here and there, you come across Edoardo Villa iron sculptures, a stark contrast to the style of the surroundings. Feeling energetic? Then play a round of golf, or a game of boules outside Catharina's or pedal through the vineyards on one of the hotel's mountain bikes – it's well worth the effort as the view from the top extends across the Farm all the way to the sea and it's spectacular. And let me not forget the wildlife…..from bees burying themselves inside pincushion proteas to waddling Egyptian geese, hadedas, a peacock (that I heard but never saw), and even an owl that swooped silently past my face in broad daylight, and sat in a tree right above me…a rare and special moment. Amazing to think that all this is only 20 minutes from the Cape Town CBD.
Steenberg Farm is a haven from the frenetic pace of the city but if you're all natured out, there's always neighbouring Constantia, Kalk Bay or even further out towards Simon's Town if you feel you simply must get a hustle-and-bustle fix. Personally, I would check in, stay put, have a treatment at the Gingko Spa ,lie on the soft grass and soak up the tranquility. The city can wait while you absorb the peace and photograph the slow-blinking owl. www.steenbergfarm.com