Located just 45 minutes outside of Cape Town, Stellenbosch has been drawing creative spirits for decades and packs a big punch for a small city with its cultural offerings. The town not only hosts South Africa’s oldest music school, the Stellenbosch Conservatoire, but also features an impressive collection of galleries and studios worth viewing as well as permanent outdoor exhibition displaying works by various local sculptors, making for an art-filled afternoon stroll around the oak-lined streets of the town.
Set in a majestic mountain and vineyard landscape, more than 150 wine farms spread out from the heart of Stellenbosch centre. Whilst appreciating the old heritage and charm of the town, numerous estates have broken free from the Cape Dutch norm, with cutting edge designs, art initiatives and magnificent architectural masterpieces now jotted along the wine route.
Culture vultures should make sure to visit some of these top arty wine estates:
Situated on the outskirts of Stellenbosch, on the steep and winding Helshoogte Pass towards Franschhoek, Tokara is a picture-perfect destination, offering sweeping views across False Bay and all the way to Table Mountain. The estate has accumulated an impressive collection of various local works, representing South Africa’s established and emerging talent. Visitors can see some incredible sculptures on an art walk through olive orchards and or visit a gallery of fine art in the entrance hall of the estate before embarking on a culinary feast in the stylish delicatessen or fine dining restaurant. With the Wine Made Art concept Tokara celebrates the release of their new vintage wines each year with exquisite paintings made by up and coming artists using the estate’s red wine.
DELAIRE GRAFF (www.delaire.co.za) pictured
On the same scenic Simonsberg Mountain as Tokara, lies the ultra-premium Delaire Graff Estate, one of the most aesthetically interesting contemporary art destinations in the world. The estate is an architectural masterpiece, combined with spectacular floral gardens and towering sculptures that grace the estate’s landscape. Its personally curated collection has been a lifelong passion of Laurence Graff, who continues to discover promising South African artists. The interiors at the Estate have been designed around some of the pivotal works on display, such as the William Kentridge-inspired boldly curvaceous tangerine leather banquette. South Africa’s diverse heritage is reflected in the art at the Estate: Lionel Smit’s African Woman in the Tasting Lounge echoes the subtle palette of the natural hues used in the sophisticated setting, while signature Dylan Lewis cheetahs grace the Estate’s landscape. Works by Deborah Bell, Sidney Kumalo, Fred Schimmel, Durant Sihlali and Cecil Skotnes adorn the walls, while guests at the Lodge will particularly enjoy Stephane Graff and the intensity of Ndikhumbule Ngqinambi’s work.
SPIER WINE ESTATE (www.spier.co.za)
Spier is remarkable for having the greatest number of gables – 21 in total – dated between 1767 and 1822 and therefore representing the ‘best’ half century for Cape Dutch architecture on a single property. The Spier Art Collection is one of the largest contemporary South African art collections and works by both emerging and established artists can be seen in the estate’s meticulously restored Cape Dutch buildings. Works by exceptional multi-media artist Tamlin Blake, made from discarded trash, are displayed at Eight Restaurant. In addition to acquiring works from artists’ studios, galleries and art auctions, Spier also regularly commissions large-scale works. Paul Emanuel’s ‘Transitions’ was seen by 2500 Spier visitors before it went on to be exhibited internationally.
Other recommended Art & Cultural Experiences in Stellenbosch:
- STAND, the latest public art exhibition in Stellenbosch is on display for 12 months, starting from June 2017. Marking the end point of the Cross Cape cycle route from Plettenberg Bay to Stellenbosch, see bicycle racks as art and a giant pin-board pin designed by Porky Hefer.
- #artystellenbosch: Last Thursdays Stellenbosch - a free gallery-hoppingevent which takes place on a monthly basis. Visit local galleries, get a look at what the talented students of the Stellenbosch University Visual Arts Department are producing and have a glass of wine while you're at it.
- Dylan Lewis Sculpture Garden - see one of the most important collections of contemporary animal sculpture to come out of Africa (dylanlewis.co.za)
- US Woordfees – annual Literary Festival at the University of Stellenbosch (www.woordfees.co.za)
For more information on the Stellenbosch Experience and inspiration to visit the region, visit www.stellenboschexperience.co.za and keep an eye on #visitStellenbosch. The Stellenbosch Experience is an initiative by Stellenbosch 360 and Stellenbosch Wine Routes, in collaboration with Destinate, made possible through partnerships including Spier, First Car Rental and Majeka House.