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Visiting Muratie is a trip back to the Cape farms of old. The moss covered paved courtyard, the giant oaks and thick white walls have been left seemingly undisturbed in order to welcome you back in time.
History is reflected in every old and dusty nook and cranny on Muratie and in the stories retold on the wine labels. The farm dates back to 1685 when it was granted to Lourens Camphor, a German soldier. His love story is a 17th century-style Mills and Boon romance, and my favourite. Lourens fell in love with Ansela, a slave woman at the Cape Town Castle where he was originally stationed, and for 14 years after he started farming, he walked the long road to Cape Town to visit her until she was finally freed. Ansela came to live at Muratie with the three children she had born to Lourens over the years and it is in her memory that the flagship red blend is named. Lourens’ little house still stands and, at the entrance to the tasting room, there is a huge oak that was planted by the couple three centuries ago.
The tasting room areas and winter dining space thread their way through the old cement fermenters, their walls stained with centuries of wine. Talk about paint effects…the patina will drive interior decorators dizzy. The interleading rooms are all furnished with antiques, thick carpets, old implements, copper basins, and wine barrels everywhere. Not to mention centimetres thick cobwebs on the windowsills.
In summer you can enjoy breakfast and lunch outside on the courtyard, where listening to the sound of the birds in trees is probably the most energetic you will want to be. The food is homely and delicious, with a small menu, but with something for everyone (including offal on the day that I was there). In winter you eat inside, in a room that looks more like granny’s dining room than a restaurant, warmed by an extraordinary wood heating stove called a Bullerjam invented, I was told, by Canadian lumberjacks. It was winter when I visited so I enjoyed a hearty lamb and lentil soup, and shared a tender lamb shank. In summer lots of salad options are added to the menu.
In the early 1900s another colourful character owned Muratie, artist George Canitz, originally from Germany. He painted landscapes which were very popular at the time, and he was also well known for his parties around the pool. Several of his paintings hang in the old cellar, including one of his mistress, who features on the Forever Amber wine label. This wine was first produced by Canitz and named after a raunchy book of the time. Canitz wrote: ‘“To happy days and glorious nights, Forever Amber”.
I can drink to that!
Ansela van de Caab 2012
Isabella Chardonnay Reserve 2014
Mon - Fri 10h00 -17h00
Sat 10h00 - 17h00
Sun 10h00 -17h00
Restaurant Wed – Sun 09h00 - 16h00.
Mon & Tues Cheese Platters only
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Muratie Wine Estate, Stellenbosch, Western Cape, South Africa, -33.8706, 18.87582999999995