A carpet of manicured greenery laced with multi-colored blossoms welcomed us at the entrance of the Delaire Graff Estate. Located in the Stellenbosch Winelands, ‘Delaire’ means ‘from the air or heavens’ and it’s fitting as I immediately felt as if we’ve entered a botanical haven.
I’ve always longed to visit Delaire Graff and I’ve finally been afforded the opportunity to do so with my colleague, Katharina. We were staying the night and had a 24-hour itinerary planned to ensure we get the full experience.
Welcome to the Jewel of the Winelands
The Delaire Graff Estate is the masterpiece of Laurence Graff, a diamantaire and art collector. Together with expert architects, designers, artists and sculptors, he transformed the estate into this opulent destination.
The first thing I noticed when I stepped out of our vehicle was the sweet aroma of jasmine. Seconds later, the staff’s brilliant smiles greeted us to collect our luggage.
We stepped into the foyer and my eyes scanned over the larger-than-life paintings, sculptures and flower arrangements around the room, the sound of trickling water the background music.
We were welcomed and handed a glass of their chilled Cabernet Franc Rosé as we discussed the itinerary for the day. It would start with a wine tasting, followed by lunch at the Delaire Graff Restaurant, a full body massage at the spa, canapés and then dinner at the other onsite restaurant, Indochine.
Fruit of the Vine
A visit to the Winelands demands a wine tasting and Delaire Graff did more than just deliver.
With an elegant tasting lounge shaded by trees and overlooking the valley, you might just want to spend an entire day here.
We settled in on the terrace and I immediately scanned the tasting menu. Delaire Graff’s wines have collected several awards over the years and, being a wine enthusiast, I could not wait to sample it.
The 2018 Delaire Graff Banghoek Reserve Chardonnay was my favourite. With a layered palate of vanilla, peach and honeycomb, every mouthful was a delight.
I also highly recommend their cheese platter, featuring quite a variety of soft and hard cheeses, fruit preserve as well as fresh Artisan bread served with balsamic and olive oil. It’s the perfect palate cleanser in between sips of wine.
With two onsite restaurants, you must ensure you have enough time here to try both. For lunch, we opted for the classic bistro Delaire Graff Restaurant.
Weather permitting, we highly recommend that you are seated outside, as you undoubtedly have the best views from their terrace. In winter, make yourself comfortable in the orange leather banquettes and enjoy the handpicked art and sculptures decorating the restaurant.
We sat down outside and completely forgot to look at the menu for a few minutes as we just stared at the view. You really can’t explain it to someone, they simply have to experience it for themselves.
The friendly waiters (the hospitality at Delaire Graff is of the highest calibre I have experienced in a long time) offered us small ‘vetkoek’, a traditional fried dough bread, and slices of seed loaf.
Then my eye caught something on the menu. Oysters! Oysters and a glass of Méthod Cap Classique bubbly for a starter will pair perfectly with this view. We relished this as we contemplated what we would order for lunch.
Their menu features local South African dishes, beautifully prepared. The fish of the day immediately captured my interest. Yellowtail, one of my favourite fish, served with cauliflower and tahini purée, asparagus, smoked haddock risotto, calamari, spinach purée, sesame nage and salsa.
When the dish arrived, I simply had to spend a few minutes to appreciate it as the presentation was impeccable.
Overall, our experience at the Delaire Graff Restaurant can be summed up in their own words: ‘sunshine cuisine’.
‘An Estate of Mind’ at Delaire Graff Spa
After lunch, it was time for us to experience the onsite spa. I haven’t been for a spa treatment for quite some time, so was looking forward to my full-body massage.
We were escorted from the restaurant to the spa on a golf cart, where we were greeted by our masseuses.
As soon as I’ve settled on top of the massage table, I realised that it’s heated – a very welcome surprise for someone like me who tend to shiver when lying still for so long. My masseuse drizzled warm oil with a divine scent before working her magic.
I am not sure whether I drifted off to sleep or whether I was in a trance, but when she nudged my shoulder to indicate that she’s done, I felt like my soul returned to my body.
As she led me to the estate’s main swimming pool area, I felt like my feet weren’t touching the ground. She left me with a small green juice and fresh fruit to collect my thoughts again.
Canapés and Bubbly Paired with a View
Shortly after we arrived back at our Superior Lodge, there was a knock on the door. Greeted by smiling staff, they carried flutes of chilled Méthod Cap Classique bubbly and two elegant plates with a trio of canapés each.
They served us on our private sundeck as we gazed out over the view of rolling vineyard-carpeted hills, blossoming gardens, and we could even make out Table Mountain in the distance.
We savoured the canapés consisting of cornbread with biltong and Edamame purée, salmon tartare with cucumber and lemon zest, and finally a black sesame meringue with caramel mousse to finish it all off.
You’ll find yourself just staring at the view from your sundeck, not even aware that time is ticking away. It’s almost as if you’re completely cut off from the real world here, in the most pleasant way. With no roads or other people in sight from our lodge, the seclusion was one of my favourite things about our stay at Delaire Graff.
At Home with Luxury
Although there’s so much to do on the estate and its surroundings, you also need a good few hours to just enjoy your lodge. Apparently, the exact lodge we stayed in is the owner’s favourite. That is, of course, until he built the Owner’s Villa, his pièce de résistance. You can read more about this villa in my other blog post.
A highlight for me was the infinity pool heated to 28 degrees, overlooking the valley. The most tranquil place I’ve been in a long time, it really gave me time to think and just be in the moment.
A nice touch to the experience was a chilled bottle of the Delaire Graff Cabernet Franc Rosé, traditional Hertzoggie cookies, freshly squeezed juice and a bowl of fresh fruit that awaited us in our lodge.
After our swim, it was time to get ready for dinner. The bathrooms are marvellous, with marble floors and walls, oversized showers and twin basins. My favourite, however, was the heavenly scented beauty products.
We were going to the onsite Indochine, an Asian tapas-style restaurant served as art on the plate. It’s difficult to choose a favourite restaurant in Cape Town. There are so many unique and award-winning options that it’s almost impossible to choose one over the other. That being said, I have to admit that Indochine was one of my favourite dining experiences I’ve had in quite some time.
Fusion of Flavour
The Asian-infused South African menu offers flavours that are delightfully surprising. Chef Virgil Kahn is the Head Chef and an expert in Asian food.
The restaurant is decorated in shades of vibrant blue and copper, and the showpiece of the restaurant décor is without a doubt the ‘Swallows in flight’ art piece created by Lionel Smit and Andre Stead.
“After your third or fourth glass of wine, they say that the swallows start to move,” one of our waiters told us with a chuckle.
The doors of the restaurants open to a verandah that overlooks Table Mountain and the vineyards, perfect for a warmer evening. We were seated in a booth inside, looking over the view as the sun set.
As soon as we studied the menu, it was very clear that we should go for the full dining and wining experience, their tasting menu consisting of seven dishes paired with carefully selected wines.
And so the culinary journey started that I will always remember. In fact, it has recently been awarded Two-Plate status at the JHP Gourmet Guide Awards.
Finally, when we thought we could not take another bite, they served dessert.
Hearts and stomachs satisfied, we headed to the comfort of our lodge for the night.
Rise and Shine
The next morning, the sky was scattered with popcorn-like clouds. Reflecting on the pool’s surface, it looked like we were in a fairytale.
We organised that they bring breakfast to the lodge the night before. They arrived promptly, with a soft knock on the door signalling their arrival.
As it was a beautiful day, they set up outside on the sundeck. Trust me, this is where you will spend most of your time.
My breakfast was the smoked salmon with poached eggs, topped with caviar. It was served with a wide selection of other items including cold-pressed green juice, coffee, muesli, fresh fruit, cold meats, cheese, and much more.
Then it was time for us to hit the road. We grabbed our complimentary navy and brown leather handbags, packed our bags and made our way back to the main building.
I did not feel like the same person, knowing that this utopia exists. I vowed to myself to do my part and share its wonder with everyone I encounter.
Delaire Graff is perfect for a romantic getaway or group celebration.
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