I’ve lived in the Stellenbosch Winelands for 7 years and I never knew that there was a whole sprawling wine estate nestled in between the houses of Ida’s Valley. I recently had the exciting opportunity to spend a day at Glenelly Estate, and let me tell you, it’s definitely one of the best ways to spend a day in the Winelands!
Glenelly has a rich history, even though the estate is still relatively young when compared to some other wineries in the Winelands. Back in 2003, at the age of 78, Lady May de Lencquesaing purchased Glenelly Estate and replaced all the fruit trees on the farm with vines. Throughout the day, the winemaker providing us with this amazing experience let slip snippets of this inspiring matriarch’s rich history, which weaves an unforgettable tale.
She grew up in Bordeaux during World War II, where she helped her family to hide a Jewish family in their cellar. As a thirteen year old girl, Lady May carried messages and food to and from the hidden family until they could eventually be rescued. My favourite part of the history we were told was that Lady May, currently 94, bought the farm at age 78 and completely turned her life upside down so late in her age. Isn’t it just inspiring to know that you don’t have to slow your life down when you get older?
Sorry, enough of a history lesson, let’s get back to the story at hand, which is wine tasting. In the morning. On a workday (Luckily my boss is cool).
When I arrived at Glenelly (after being blown away by the gorgeous view) we were shown to the tasting room, where wine and cheese platters awaited. We started off with their Glass Collection Unoaked Chardonnay and a South African cheese board. Usually, I’m not a huuuuge Chardonnay fan, whether it’s wooded or not, but this Chardonnay is one of my new favourites. Another standout wine is their flagship Cabernet, the Lady May. It’s rich in flavour, but not so heavy that you can’t enjoy it in the summer, or on its own.
After the wine tasting, we headed out to the vineyards to harvest our own grapes, and to get a tour of the vineyard. The view from the top of the hill is magnificent, I had never before seen Stellenbosch and the surrounding mountains from that angle, and let me tell you, it was spectacular!
After our tour of the vineyards (and some bubbles) we headed down to the cellar for a tour. Like most wine farms, Glenelly makes use of gravity throughout the winemaking process, but unlike other wine farms, they have probably the best view you’ll see from inside a wine cellar.
After our cellar tour, we sat down for lunch and more wine. For starters I went for the quail with roast figs and pear chutney. It was perfectly cooked, and the fig and pear paired perfectly with the slightly gamey quail without overpowering it. For mains I had melt-in-my-mouth Springbok loin with Parisienne gnocchi, parsnips, kale and almond beurre noisette. I usually love pairing red berry flavours with Springbok, but the light beurre noisette made the dish feel more summery and light. Dessert was one of my all-time favourites, crème caramel. It was smooth and creamy with just the right amount of a sugar kick to remind you that this is a once in a while treat.
All in all, the next time I’ve got friends or family who want to spend a day on a wine farm, I’ll definitely treat them to a day at Glenelly.
Have you been to Glenelly Estate yet? I’d love to hear your experience; let me know in the comments!