It didn’t take much to persuade the owners of this charming Koringberg hideaway to put down roots here. Deep in the heart of the Swartland, home to several maverick winemakers (whose limited quantities are some of the most sought after by sommeliers-in-the-know at exclusive safari lodges in Africa) and the Cape’s wheat basket, Koringberg literally means ‘Wheat Mountain’. Blink and you could miss the turn-off to this sleepy little ‘one-horse’ town, just before Picketberg. We arrive on a weekend when the wheat harvest is in full swing.
The Old Barn, previously a much-loved restaurant at the entrance to the village (the sun room was the original bar), is next door to the boutique vineyards of Wildehurst Winery and right on the main road. There’s a real sense of community here, from the moment the resident peacock sounds out a welcome cry as the gate opens. By sunrise, neighbouring cocks crow on cue and your country clock is set! But waking at dawn is the best time to experience this little village and breakfast outside as the sun slowly lights up the private stoep is slow and lazy. Just the way it should be.
As the heat of the day picks up, it’s time to dip into the plunge pool before retreating inside in search of a good book in its tempting bookshelves. The talented Salome Gunter (who decorated the original Perfect Hideaways cottage in Churchhaven all those years ago!) was invited to add her signature interior style to this calming, double-volume loft space. Layered with embroidered French linens, classic stripes and blousy florals offset against a calming palette of whites, and beautifully styled with an eye for quirky finds, The Old Barn is a now a gorgeous light-filled weekend retreat. Warmed by a central fireplace in winter and cooled by high ceilings and concrete floors in summer, it’s the country cocoon we all need more often than we think!
What we love!
- That you can get here so quickly after work on a Friday – it’s just over 1.5 hours out of the city – and that the dry Swartland air welcomes you instantly.
- Nothing much happens here unless it’s the wheat harvest, in which case tractors, combine
harvesters and farmers will be on the move all the time as there are silos up on the hill. And on a Saturday, a train will clackety-clack through the village, tooting as it arrives!
- At the turn off to Koringberg, the cheery Desert Rose Farm Stall sells everything from Nguni rugs to prickly pear jam and even pickled peaches. Not to mention hearty venison pies.
- The Greek-style pool! Essential in summer. And the water feature in the reservoir – there’s nothing like the tinkling sound of water to cool you on a hot day.
What you need to know…
- It’s dog friendly but please bring leads and walk with your dogs till they become accustomed to the resident peacock, and roosters, chickens and ducks next door.
- There is WiFi so you can work while away for extended stays.
- The barn on the main road as you enter the village, adjoining the Wildehurst winery and you can buy Wildehurst wine (by appointment only as the winery is closed on weekends).
- If you forget your book, the bookshelves are jam-packed with interesting reads. The third bedroom is behind this room-dividing bookshelf and has no door but is shielded for additional privacy with a screen, and the loft upstairs is a mezzanine.
- The quaint Spaza shop (with an ATM) has more essentials than you would expect but bring all your fresh food with you.
Reviewed by Michelle Snaddon