Stanford has always been a popular break-away destination thanks to a combination of factors. Many visitors eventually retire there too. It’s a mix of well-preserved historical buildings, lush gardens, muted CBD, diversity of activities on surrounding farms and distance from the city all conspire to make it so.
Once you’ve made your choice from the diverse accommodation offerings, Stanford is a place for country drives; cycling - on and off-road; walks and hikes; as well as water activities like fishing and boating. It lies just 10km from the sea as the crow flies.
The town itself is situated at the intersection of two roads – the R43, that runs along the coast between neighbouring Hermanus and Gansbaai; and, the R326 into the hinterland where it later connects with the N2 near Riviersonderend.
The formal Stanford Wine Route is relatively young, having launched some five years ago, and incorporates a variety of members, most of whom are included below. The region itself may also be considered pioneering territory relative to more established regions, given the time that vineyards have been present and that they do not dominate agriculture in the area.
Among the wineries of the area are Stanford Hills, Raka, Springfontein, Welgesind, Walker Bay Estate, Vaalvlei and Boschrivier. Lomond and Giant Periwinkle Wines are some 30km from the village and form part of the relatively new Agulhas Wine Triangle, but have traditionally been part of the Stanford wine offering too.
Few wineries could be more off the beaten track. This enterprise of Naas Terblanche and his family is tiny; just three hectares. They farm Sauvignon Blanc and Shiraz grapes, producing a small volume of wine. In addition to wine tasting, visitors can try their hand at fly-fishing and learn about local frogs, which the Terblanche’s have made a study of. Call ahead before visiting, just to make sure someone’s there. While you’re in the vicinity, make an appointment to visit the Eikenhoff orchid nursery nearby.
An old 1970s homestead standing in the shade of tall Eucalyptus trees, was converted to serve as the Boschrivier tasting room. It also incorporates a newer addition - a glass-walled function venue that doubles as coffee shop. The winery is a boutique operation owned by the De Villiers Family, which planted Boschrivier’s first vineyards in 1998. These are located on nearby Remhoogte Farm. In addition to Boschrivier’s “wine house”, there’s accommodation on the farm too – in the manor house, a refurbished school house or a cottage.
Driving up from Stanford, you’ll encounter Raka’s vineyards lining the valley before arriving at the long, white winery buildings on a shoulder just above the road. Usually, the umbrellas are out on the stoep, giving added reason for lingering to enjoy wine and the views. The Dreyer Family bought the farm in the early 1980s, naming it after a fishing boat. They planted its first vineyards, in 1999, and became one of the pioneers of the wine route. The enterprise remains hands-on for the family, right down to some of the their antiques occasionally for sale in the tasting room foyer.
Walker Bay Estate
The location of the winery was first famous as the home of Birkenhead Brewery, named after a ship that sank on the nearby coastline. Today, however the place remains popular with visitors – it’s a short stroll from the centre of town. The vineyards came in 2003 after the establishment of Walker Bay Estate, which still has a bistro as well as lawns outside beloved by energetic children.
Stanford Hills Estate
An expansive lawn and restaurant overlooking a lake and the surrounding countryside have made the pet-friendly estate a popular destination. If you prefer to stick around, there’s self-catering accommodation too (supplies are close at hand with town situated less than 10 minutes away). Weekends tend to be busy. In addition to wine, the estate farms Proteas and Pincushion flowers. The property is owned and managed by Peter and Jami Kastner, who live on the farm with their two boys, Jack and Alex.
Sir Robert Stanford Estate
The visibility of the estate from the main road into Stanford means it almost always has cars in the parking lot. A laid-back restaurant, furbished with old sofas and wooden tables and chairs, sits aside a dam where a flock of geese occasionally settle. The property is one of the oldest in the region and possibly most famous for its Hansom Bordeaux blend. A small tasting centre offers the opportunity to taste its Cutters Cove range of wines too.
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Springfontein Wine Estate
Nothing suggests this is wine country before arrival at the winery. The white, limestone soils are a clue though. Springfontein is under the radar and perhaps the way winemaker Tariro Masayiti prefers it, only popping up to dazzle the judges with yet another stellar (organically certified) wine. The initiative was founded by German citizen Dr Johst Weber, who purchased the dormant farmland alongside the Kleinrivier Lagoon with family investors in the late 1990s. The first harvest came in 2000. Visitors come for the wines, among them the experimental Daredevil’s Drums range; and, the fine dining restaurant.
Misty Mountains Wine Estate
It’s the sign advertising gin tastings that often diverts travellers off the main route from Hermanus and towards the large warehouse that’s a veritable house of many rooms. Distilled beverages dominate the offering, but there’s also wine, produced from 16ha of vineyard; craft beer; and, a pizza restaurant. Furthermore, there are four self-catering cottages. The farm was acquired by Andre van Vuuren in the early 2000s, who established its vineyards soon thereafter. The first vintage came in 2008.
Just past Stanford Hills Estate lies the small winery of Welgesind, owned and run by former mechanic Chris de Wit and spouse, Amanda. They produce just 6 000 bottles per year, made up by two wines - the Mechanic Shiraz and Romanse Blanc de Noir. A third wine – a malbec – may be added at the end of the year, “if what I’ve put in the barrel emerges good enough,” says Chris. It’s a micro operation, so best call ahead when planning a visit.
Three places you must include in your next visit:
- Mosaic Lagoon Café – This dramatic former homestead that is colloquially known as “Die Spookhuis”, makes a wonderful discovery. Situated at the waters’ edge, it’s the place to enjoy a light meal in the shade of the old milkwood trees.
- Klein River Cheese – The visit will take care of a couple of hours, but is a great place to stock up on award-winning cheese, and spend some time with the kids too.
- The Manor Restaurant at Stanford Valley Guest Farm – If you’re not fortunate enough to get a room here, book a meal at the restaurant. A stunning art collection is the centrepiece of the experience, alongside the upscale dining to be paired with, what else, wines from the Stanford region.