Looking for the ultimate treat to celebrate a loved one? Look no further than a beautifully crafted picnic at Vergelegen. Set in their camphor forest, picnics at Vergeleegen are bound to delight and impress, leaving you feeling like you stepped into Enid Blyton’s magical forest, complete with magnificent trees!
Available until the end of April, the famous luxury picnics are delivered in wicker baskets and served at tables covered with white tablecloths. Gone are the days where picnics meant frenzy and heavily packed bags, these luxury picnics are set in the tranquil camphor forest, giving you just enough space and privacy to make you feel as if it were just you and guests relaxing in the peaceful environment.
Your picnic is set up and served by a wonderful and knowledgeable member of the team and guests are allowed to sit under the shade of the luxury umbrellas for as long as they want.
On the menu
“The team from our Camphors and Stables restaurants have developed a delectable menu based on a wide variety of dishes, with most of the ingredients grown on the farm or sourced from specialist local suppliers,” says Hospitality Operations Manager, Sue Steenkamp.
The standard picnic menu (vegetarian, vegan and children’s options are available too) offers a tomato gazpacho amuse-bouche, homemade duck liver pâté, roasted pepper and cream cheese, and traditional smoked snoek pâté (my favourite). Mains consist of home-cured meats, plus chicken marinated in plum, ginger, spring onion and coriander; bacon, leek and potato quiche; butternut and chickpea salad, cucumber relish and Caprese salad. South African cheeses are served with pear relish and homemade biscuits, while dessert is a 70% dark chocolate mousse, accompanied by filter coffee. Vergelegen wines, to suit all pockets and tastes, are available.
The standard menu is R330/person for all the above, while the vegetarian and vegan options cost R340/person. The children’s picnic, for three to ten-year-olds, is R125/child. Reservations at least 24 hours in advance are essential. Visit their website here to book.
With a small entrance fee required (R10 for adults and R5 for pensioners/scholors), Vergelegen is a multi-layered destination so guests are advised to allow plenty of time to enjoy the farm’s many attractions before settling down to their picnics. Visitors can taste the estate’s award-winning wines at the Wine Tasting Centre, book for an environmental tour, or explore 18 exquisite gardens. My favourite place on the estate? A beautiful rose garden with 1500 rose bushes that adjoins the camphor forest. I also recommend grabbing a map and exploring the grounds where a visit to the library is a must.
Since Vergelegen was acquired in 1987, it has been meticulously restored and opened to the public as a showcase of the best of South African heritage, wine, culture and biodiversity. Visitors enter the estate along an avenue of oak and liquidambar trees, possibly spotting the black, white and tan hides of the magnificent herd of over 300 indigenous Nguni cattle. The estate’s historic core includes the stately homestead (furnished with beautiful antiques, intricate tapestries, Oriental porcelain and paintings), the Interpretive Centre that covers the estate’s history, two restaurants, 18 gardens, the central working farm area, and an extensive arboretum that is a ten-year project. In front of the homestead, you can’t miss five magnificent 320-year-old camphor trees, declared national monuments back in 1942. There’s also Africa’s oldest living oak tree and a giant oak grown from an acorn from one of the last royal oaks at England’s Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill; and if you cross the swing bridge over the Lourens River, you’ll discover ancient yellowwood which looks like a child’s storybook illustration.
It’s no surprise that the estate recently scooped two wins in the prestigious 2022 Great Wine Capitals Best of Wine Tourism Awards, for its landscape and architecture, and sustainable wine tourism experiences.