Vine to glass at Brookdale estate an idyllic manor house and boutique

By Anji Connell

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Brookdale is an idyllic estate in the Cape Winelands that is all about lifestyle and elegant country living in a beautifully appointed Manor House that is set within a boutique wine farm. Arriving at Brookdale is quite special. Once through the gates, you travel along a 2km driveway, where at one high point, you catch a glimpse of the Cape Dutch Manor House looking down through a winding brook with breathtaking views of the house nestled within a dipping lush green valley, and pristine rows of vines enveloped by the dramatic Klein Drakenstein Mountains in the Paarl Valley.

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Come and relax and let nature envelop you in this lesser-known corner of the Winelands.

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At the door ready to welcome us is Yvonne who manages the estate with her chef husband Gary. We step into into a voluminous open hallway where a striking portrait of a young women I later discover is by local artist David Thorpe, draws your eyes up an imposting staircase to a mezzanine floor. The lobby is set in the centre of the house with open doors leading it to several rooms that entice you to take a peak. It’s not at all what you expect from a typical Cape Dutch Manor House, light is flooding in, with high ceilings, it feels light, open and airy, and its incredibly cool, despite it being another scorching day in the Winelands. I cant wait to explore. But first to the kitchen to meet Gary. Together, they manage the Brookdale. This I soon discover is very much the heart of the home where everyone is welcome to pop in at any time. Yvonne and Gary Coetzee come with a fabulous pedigree —having spent nine years with Singita Lodges, and the last ten at the Kerzner Estate in Hout Bay (Cape Town).

Yvonne gives us a tour of the house, it is incredibly comfortable, and we feel immediately at home. Gary and Yvonne are exceptionally welcoming, and you instinctively know you are in good hands. An air of calm pervades. All feels well, and we immediately feel ourselves relax. After settling into our room, with is just as spacious as the rest of the house, with high ceilings, lots of light, modern, and elegant. We take up an invitation for a light lunch on one of the terraces with views over the vines and mountains.

We devour Garys deliciously mouth-watering treats, accompanied by a little Brookdale Rose. What bliss! The sun is shining, and the views are to die for what’s not to love.

Luckily I get to meet the owner, who is in town. Tim Rudd is a Brit who has enjoyed a lifelong passion for wine and farming, and the Cape, that led him to buy Brookdale with his industrialist father, Sir Nigel Rudd. The estate takes its name from the hamlet in Derbyshire, England, where Tim has lived for many years. And with the addition of the winding brook you traverse as you arrive this is precisely the feeling it gave me.

Tim based the house on historical drawings of an 18th-century farmhouse. It’s a truly lovely five-bedroom manor house in the traditional Cape Dutch style with distinctive rounded gables, whitewashed walls and a thatched roof. Built-in a traditional H-shape, the front section flanked by two generous wings running perpendicular to it allows the breeze to circulate freely.

Tim admits to me he’s a bit of a design enthusiast and, with the help of his mother, he has created an inviting, peaceful home, and tells me, “I wanted the house to have a traditional shell with a modern, light and spacious interior”, which he has achieved in spades. Tim has used a mix of antique and reproduction furniture complemented by contemporary versions of traditional Cape pieces

Downstairs, you’ll find a library/study, a formal dining room, two sitting rooms with deep comfortable sofas, all elegantly decorated in sophisticated soothing hues. You can see in the detail the care and thought that has been taken in curating the space, its timeless, classic yet thoroughly inviting. Tims’s collection of local modern artworks bring colour and vibrancy to the rooms, and all enjoy gorgeous views of the gardens and vines with access to out door terraces. The breakfast room leads to Gary’s den, the creative hub—the kitchen where he conjures his taste sensations with the help of the lovely Ozzie. The team includes a butler to further ease your stay.

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The mezzanine floor is home to four of the six spacious bedrooms, with a fifth suite on the ground floor and a sixth, the honeymoon suite in an adjacent outbuilding. Tim is also a keen conservationist and gardener and, since taking ownership, has overseen the clearing of all the alien vegetation, replanting the valleys with 3600 indigenous trees and re-seeding the mountain slopes with wild Cape fynbos and flowers.

The house is surrounded by vineyards so that when you look outside, you see a garden of rooms, which was part of Tims’s brief to Cape Town-based renowned landscape designer Franchesca Watson. A kitchen garden sits to one side of the house, with formal gardens to the others. A stunning circular lawn sits in front of the house that doubles as a helipad, and a smaller strip of lawn down between the vines is another gorgeous spot for alfresco wine tasting.

At Brookdale, your stay is highly personalised. Before you arrive, the team ask you what you might like to do on your visit. You can enjoy a cooking demo and a herb garden walk with Gary, whose menus take inspiration from the seasonal produce from his kitchen garden. Brookdale grows peach, nectarine, mango, orange, passion fruit, plum and pomegranate trees. They aspire for the estate to be self-sustainable except for meat and fish, which is all ethically sourced locally. 

You can take a guided walk through the grounds with the estate manager, Cleophas Kajekere. The grounds are a natural haven for birds and wildlife with sixty-seven hectares of vineyards, fynbos, and a natural water source from the mountains, it’s a fertile habitat for all kinds of birds, fish eagles, bat-eared foxes, lynxes, leopards, and porcupines. means the wildlife has fled! However, this place is so gorgeous. The staff are fabulous, and our guide is a delight. The staff’s warm smiles and joyous singing welcome us wholeheartedly. We are more than happy. We could stay.

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Then there is wine tasting with Kiera Scott, Brookdale’s winemaker, one of just a handful of female winemakers in South Africa, who shares Tim’s passion for creating great wine. Tim enthuses, “We want our guests to make themselves home and to treat the farm as if it’s their own for their stay. We especially want it to be an authentic experience,” and I believe him. Tim is lovely, and passionate about what he’s doing at Brookdale and it shows, everything has been thought of to enhance your stay, and nothing is too much trouble. And with Yvonne and Gary at the helm Brookdale is set to soar. I love the feel of this place and the people. The team that works together stays together!

What excited me most from the experiences on offer
was the chance to take part in the wine harvesting. Guests are actively encouraged to join the team in the dawn harvest. Luckily the harvest is in full swing, and the team use the morning cool before the fierce midday sun sends the sugar levels rising. An early start but so worth it. We jumped out of bed at 5 am to meet downstairs, grab a pair of secateurs, watch a demo of how to crop the grapes, and off we go with a crate in a convoy through the organic vines. It’s exhilarating! The vines are brimful with the ripest, deep burgundy fruit. Its slow progress at first as the grapes seem so delicate and some have wrapped their tendrils around the supports; however, we soon pick up speed as we learn how to better handle them. It felt good to be part of this magical process, albeit in a very small way—what an experience.

You can also take a tractor ride around the estate for which Gary will happily organise a picnic for you to have on the grounds accompanied, of course, by a bottle of the estate wine—or will set up a feast in the pool house if you choose to chill by the pool. There is also the option to indulge in a spa treatment in your room.

Tim suggests we enjoy a bottle of bubbles up at the viewpoint where a burnt-out tree stump had been carved into a wooden seat for sundowners while the sunsets over the house and the gorgeous grounds. Sounds good to me—we obey! This is followed by a candlelit diner of one the side terrace where the sun sets, overlooking the lushly sprouting kitchen garden.

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And finally, there’s the main event, the wine. Wine is one of Tim’s passions, and he has spent much time in the vineyards of the Mediterranean. He saw the potential in the overgrown piece of land in the Paarl Winelands, and with a clear vision, he’s created a world-class country estate while exploring the lesser-known wine varietals of Portugal, Italy and France. Tim has planted Mediterranean varietals that with the unique Paarl terroir produce fine and interesting wine blends. Tim and winemaker Kiara Scott use unusual winemaking techniques to create distinctive and intriguing blends. The wines produced thus far include the Premium Chenin Blanc, Mason Road Chenin Blanc, Mason Road Serendipity Rosé, a serious and elegant rosé blend of Syrah, Grenache Noir. Of the 67- hectares on the estate, 27 are under vine planted in 2016. A single block of 36-year-old Chenin Blanc was saved from the pre-existing vines and forms the cornerstone of the current Brookdale range. This is an young estate but watch out Tim and Kiara have plans for many more great wines coming from the estate soon.

And excitingly, ground has just been broken on their upcoming restaurant and wine tasting lounge The new project is situated well away from the Manor House, so guests will not be disturbed. Peace will continue to reign in this charming and utterly relaxing haven. However, it will add another dimension to your stay should you wish to wander over and indulge in what sounds like a fabulous venture. Gary proudly gave me a tour and is already planning great things for the space, along with exciting menus.

Gary’s food is superb. It’s modern, light, and innovative, and it looks beautiful. We enjoyed every morsel. I can only imagine the new restaurant will be an enormous success. For dinner, we sampled scallop with cucumber, salt, lime, habanero and radish. Followed by beetroot and black pudding, homemade labneh, Dukakis and farm honey. Next up, pan-seared Kingklip, with curry sauce, coriander pesto, semi-dry tomato, baby spinach and grilled spring onion. Supreme of Quail, potato gratin, gooseberry Gastrique, quail jus Gras, and fine beans. Finishing with almond and potato drizzle cake, passionfruit curd, sorbet and coulis, accompanied by a white chocolate soil, and it was as fabulous as it sounds! Breakfasts here are equally fabulous. You will not starve here! In fact, you may need to use the small gym! Better still, just ensure you walk the fabulous grounds. You will leave as we did, happily content.

Brookdale is a perfect spot for a weekend away from it all or for longer stays when it makes a fantastic base to discover the region. To embrace nature, and to enjoy great food in a tranquil and beautiful setting. You are welcome to book a suite or the entire house. Either way this is a stay you will absolutely love and store up on memory dividends.

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Find out more about Brookdale Estate, click here.

All images and story written by Anji Connell @anjiconnell_acidplus

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