Montpellier de Tulbagh is surely the most beautiful manor house in our valley. Set amongst sumptuous gardens in a lush vale with a stream running through it, the date on the gable reads 1714. Recent loss of several historic homesteads just over the mountains in the Wellington/Paarl valley due to runaway veld fires, plus two historic houses having burnt in our very own Church Street, sharpens appreciation of these grande dames in their venerable and vulnerable glory.
Friends and I decided to visit of a Thursday, as we had heard via the grapevine that lunch was now being offered in amongst last mentioned lushness during the week. Upon arrival, we were most warmly welcomed by Manny and informed that we may sit anywhere we wished – inside, by the poolside looking west over the vineyards towards the Saronsberg or under the ancient oaks casting their generous shade around the manor house. Once the spot was selected, a table and chairs were promptly carried thence. We chose a bottle of the 2016 Sauvignon Blanc – a favourite – and an organic vegetarian pizza off the simple menu, which also features lasagne and salads (picnic baskets and cheese platters may be pre-ordered). Unasked, ever-courteous Manny brought ice, glasses, and a bottle of the estate’s own water to the table. The pizza arrived when the wine bottle was at half-mast - perfect timing and everything a pizza should be – thin crispy base loaded with luscious toppings. What a joy to sit in the dappled shade on a lazy summer’s afternoon, listening to the sound of birdsong, running water and a faraway mower – those rolling lawns surely need a lot of loving care!
We bought several bottles of wine afterwards as a memento, noting that the awards are rolling in. Owner Lucas van Tonder has blessed us with his own blend named Spyseniersberg, sheer heaven in a bottle - AND tastings are free!
Montpellier de Tulbagh is very popular for weddings. You have only to gaze upon their website and Facebook page to see the magic wrought either in the glass house in the forest, the vaulted functions venue or even in the gorgeous gardens themselves. And the estate also boasts the most-photographed iconic chapel, set upon a hill in the midst of the vineyards with awe inspiring mountains for backdrop…
Another thing worth knowing is that, in addition to luncheons and functions served from the manor house kitchen, Montpellier has recently adapted an historic old barn into another rustic venue, aptly named Die Bouval, where well-known chef Jan Bester conjures up the very best of traditional fare prepared on the open hearth with the freshest of ingredients. One dines by candlelight at long tables with eclectic crockery and cutlery. This unique and quirky ‘restaurant’ pops up on a Wednesday evening and also for ad hoc group bookings.