With the Simonsberg, Du Toitskloof and Franschhoek mountains as backdrop, the garden of Babylonstoren is a sight to behold. Dating back to 1692, the fortunes of this historic wine farm took a turn ten years ago when it fell under the gaze of former magazine editor Karen Roos. Her passion for historic Cape Dutch style led to an authentic yet contemporary restoration. In 1692, Babylonstoren farm was granted to burgher Pieter van der Byl by the then Governor of the Cape, Simon van der Stel. Prior to that, the Drakenstein Valley had been inhabited by the nomadic Khoisan communities for tens of centuries. And so it was Pieter van der Byl who planted the first vineyards on the farm and who altered the water courses to provide irrigation.
It is considered to be one of the best preserved farmyards in the Cape. The original buildings comprise a manor house, the Koornhuis (for storing wheat), the old cellar, ornate fowl house, dovecote, the leaning bell tower and the historic gates, all date back to the 1750s. A disused cow shed was transformed into the Babel restaurant. The signature look at Babylonstoren remains whitewashed walls of thick stone or primitive brick, with ornate gables and thatched roofs but with contemporary glass boxes added onto the Cape Dutch cottages. The result is a modern yet authentic. All of the more than 300 varieties of plants in the gardens are edible or have medicinal value, with everything from blood oranges to asparagus, mushrooms and persimmons supplying the farm’s two restaurants: Babel and the Greenhouse.
Venue: Babylonstoren, R45, Simondium, Western Cape
Time: 8am – 5pm (daily)