You could be forgiven for thinking you’d arrived at an elegant country estate in rural England, but for the Cape Dutch-style architecture of this newly built Manor House set against the backdrop of the dramatic Klein Drakenstein mountains in Paarl. Driving the long driveway in this beautiful corner of the Cape Winelands, the views literally take your breath away: how, one wonders, did we miss this spot?
And while Brookdale Estate does indeed take its name from the hamlet in Derbyshire, England, where owner Tim Rudd lived for many years, this new house is based on historical Cape Dutch drawings of an 18th-century, H-shaped, gabled farmhouse which cleverly allows breezes to cool the interiors in our sizzling summers. Tim’s attention to detail and sensitivity to place is also evident in the conservation ethos here: no less than 3 600 indigenous trees have replaced alien vegetation and mountain slopes now re-seeded with Cape fynbos. He worked with the doyenne of garden design, Franschesca Watson, who created a garden of “rooms” for Tim, one of which is circular and does double duty as a helipad.
The kitchen garden is nurtured by Brookdale’s managing team: Yvonne and her husband Chef Gary Coetzee (who spent nine years at Singita lodges) are both passionate about food and wine. Today guests can enjoy a cooking demo with Gary, whose daily menus take inspiration from the seasonal produce. One day, the estate hopes to be self-sustainable, except for meat and fish, which is all ethically sourced locally, but there is already plentiful fruit: granadillas to pomegranates, and peach, nectarine, mango, orange, and plum trees.
And when Kiera Scott – Brookdale’s winemaker and one of just a handful of female winemakers in this country – does tastings, it becomes evident that the future vision for Brookdale is an ambitious one. A single block of 36-year-old Chenin was saved, while Mediterranean varietals from Portugal, France and Italy were planted in 2016. Expect a new restaurant and wine tasting lounge soon… but in the meantime, Tim insists, guests should ‘make themselves at home’.
Inside the Manor House, the interiors are classic and calming, with a growing collection of local contemporary art lining the walls, including Deborah Poynton. Dinners here are elegant and delicious, as are breakfasts, giving you the energy to go out and explore the farm: mountain biking and walks through 67 hectares of vineyards and fynbos are a balm for the soul, so come and relax and let nature envelop you in this lesser-known corner of the Winelands.
What we love!
- That guests can take part in the dawn wine harvest in season – great fun!
- Kiera’s faithful dog Pepper is present for every harvest, pruning, lending session and release of new vintages!
- That you can take a guided walk through the grounds with the estate manager, Cleophas Kajekere.
- Kids will enjoy the alpaca farm nearby, where they can feed the animals and learn about weaving on traditional looms.
- That Paarl is lesser-explored wine country: ask about the legacy of Nelson Mandela and his years spent out here.
Need to know…
- There are six spacious bedrooms, five in the Manor House and the honeymoon suite in an adjacent cottage outside.
- Brookdale is also staffed with a butler, making your stay truly relaxing.
- You can bring your own mountain bikes.