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Vergelegen was established in 1700 by Willem Adriaan van der Stel, who succeeded his father as governor of the Cape. His traditional Cape Dutch homestead, with thatch roof and gables, looks like something out of a fairy tale. An octagonal walled garden aflame with flowers surrounds it, and huge camphor trees, planted almost 300 years ago, stand as gnarled sentinels. The estate was purchased for Lady Florence Phillips by her husband, mining magnate Sir Lionel Phillips, in 1917, and she spent vast sums on the restoration of the homestead, library, and gardens. The homestead is now a museum and is furnished in period style. Other historic buildings include a magnificent library and the old stables, now the reception area and interpretive center. Behind the house, the Lady Phillips Restaurant serves lunch and tea, and the Rose Terrace café looks onto a formal rose garden.
Although Vergelegen still buys grapes from neighboring farms, the vineyards that were planted in 1989, during what is described as the renaissance of the farm, are beginning to give an inkling of some very good wines to come. Vergelegen's flagship wine is its Vergelegen Red, an alluring blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and cabernet franc. The 2004 vintage is well worth taking home, as is the farm's other favorite—the Vergelegen White 2007. If you aren't mad about blends, try the 2005 merlot, which is rich in ripe, plummy flavors, or the 2008 chardonnay with touches of wood fermentation and a fresh citrus nose. Reservations are essential for the tours.
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