Allow me to step back in time here, if you will. The following images have been languishing in my “still to be edited” folder for almost 8 months. And through no fault of their own, mind you. The establishment they depict is one of my favourite Cape Winelands locations. Given the competition, that’s top marks!
Babylonstoren is one of the oldest and best preserved werfs (farmyards) in the Cape Dutch tradition. Cape Dutch Architecture is a 17-18th century style of architecture defined by rustic, robust whitewashed (thick) walls, flat-fronted gables and thatched roofs. I LOVE this style of architecture. While it has its roots in medieval Europe (Holland, Germany and France), it seems to be right at home in the Cape. It’s this historical and aesthetic context that sets the scene for Babylonstoren, an estate right in the heart of the Cape Winelands. Aside from the working farm, the estate also has a main residence, old cellar, wheat store (Koornhuis) bell, fowl pen, dove cote, garden, restaurant (a converted kraal), a tea garden and accommodation.
I just loved exploring the expansive grounds, particularly the garden which pays homage to the gardening traditions of the Cape. The Cape was a historic halfway station for those travelling between Europe and Asia. A place for weary travellers and intrepid adventurers to stock up on vegetables and fruit. The Company Gardens in the centre of Cape Town was the most famous of these stations and the garden at Babylonstoren, which also features local flora varieties, is like a living reincarnation of that historic site.
There also a number of cottages on site – all beautifully crafted and so well suited to the context. I also loved the glasshouse-style teahouse but my favourite feature of the estate has to be Babel, the on-site restaurant. So clean. So simple. So so fresh. The decor and the fare. They use vegetables and fruit gathered daily from the garden as well as organic fish, meat and poultry. Dee-licious beyond description.
The farm’s location adds another layer of pure magic to an already bursting narrative. It’s located in between Franschoek and Paarl in the Drakenstein Valley, about a 40 minute drive from Cape Town. A location that makes me somewhat nostalgic as it’s not far from Val De Vie, where I got married.
As you’ll see, I got really lost in all the details. Not least of which was my mom walking through the rose garden in her perfectly matching floral ensemble . . .