Visit Winelands

New to the Garden Route wine experience are upgraded facilities at the Donegal Wine Estate just outside George. The location makes for an out of the ordinary stop for holidaymakers passing by on the nearby N2 or spending the school break in Victoria Bay and its surrounds.

Donegal owners Carl Ahlström and Dr Ansua Steyn took advantage of pandemic downtime to make adjustments to the winery such as adding a large wooden deck for outdoor seating. The deck sits atop the winery, which is embedded in a hillside.

It re-opened on October 1, offering cheese and meat platters as well as The Donegal Hamburger. The indoor tasting area is chic, complete with leather Chesterfield couches, a grand piano, sleek Scandi-style furniture, and tables and a counter fashioned from sparkling wine riddling racks. 

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A new deck, under construction when this photograph was taken, has been installed to maximise the views of the surrounding forest.

The new outside deck offers umbrellaed seating with views into the forest and birdsong to accompany tastings.

The winery is named after the historic North Irish town, pronounced do-nuh-gawl, where Ansua had a medical practice for several years. It was also where Carl proposed their marriage.

To get there, turn off the N2 at Victoria Bay. Before descending to the popular cove, a sign indicates the turn-off to the winery and leads visitors down a short gravel road to the edge of a forest of Eucalyptus trees. 

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The inside tasting area is a chic combination of exposed brick, concrete and classic furnishing.

It is here that Carl acquired a 1,5ha smallholding in  2002 and constructed a homestead. The maturation cellar was built in 2019 with the subsequent launch of a tasting room. These days, Donegal is available as a wedding and function venue, and there have been plans for a distillery too.

Anele Ndzeku handles marketing but is also generally hands-on wherever he’s needed at the winery. He joined the enterprise soon after it opened.

Visitors might be surprised not to find vineyards sprawling across the hills above this seaside location. That’s because the grapes for Donegal’s wines hails from two locations where the wines are also made - the Paardeberg region of the Swartland and at an estate at the foot of the Simonsberg Mountain, between Paarl and Franschhoek. The wine is however matured in barrel and bottled at the winery, on the Garden Route. 

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Anele Ndzeku
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Donegal 2017 was a Gold-medal winner at the 2018 Veritas Awards.

Available for sale under the Donegal brand is the Vic Bay blend of red varieties, a Chardonnay, a Grenache and a Shiraz. The latter wine, from the 2017 vintage, was a Gold-medal winner at the Veritas Wine Awards in 2018.

Donegal is open Monday to Friday, 9:00 to 17:00, and weekends, 12:00 to 17:00.

For further information and bookings for large groups, call 083 448 8869 or 083 388 1345, email carl@donegal.co.za or visit www.donegal.co.za.

Other local wine experiences 

The Garden Route and surrounding regions harbour real gems offering experiences that are off the beaten track, but no less enjoyable than those of major centres. Among them are Jakkalsvlei Private Cellar near Herbetsdale; Reed Valley Wine near Mossel Bay; Herold Wines, set among the peaks of the Outeniqua Mountains; and, the Boplaas wine and spirits tasting room in Klein Brak.