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Nostalgic, Country-style Dining at Joostenberg Wine Estate’s The Kraal

Very few dining experiences can feed your mind and soul, even as they nourish your belly. Yet, The Kraal Restaurant at Joostenberg Wine Estate manages to do all three, in generous portions.

Tucked away down a quaint farm road, lined with sprawling trees, The Kraal is every bit a breath of fresh country air… So breathe deep. Because every inch of this dreamy, family-owned and run-wine estate, located in Stellenbosch’s Muldersvlei district, echoes timeless, country nostalgia, modern-day serenity and a sense of belonging.

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A Family Affair Right Through

Susan Dehosse, her sister, Nicky von Wiese and her brothers, Tyrrel and Philip Myburgh, grew up on this beautiful farm and in many ways, still call it home. And when you visit The Kraal with your friends and loved ones, you, too, feel like part of the family.

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Philip – who lives in the original 1756 manorhouse with his family – is the marketing mind behind the wine estate (in addition to his full-time career in the city), while Tyrrel is the keen winemaker. Nicky, meanwhile, sources a range of ceramics and local crafts (sold in the tasting room) and Susan co-owns and manages the newest addition to this gorgeous wine farm: The Kraal Restaurant.

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Since its opening in November 2018, The Kraal has been making waves online, drawing in one glowing review after another. And each time, the sentiments are the same. This is a place where good food, wine, service and above all, a powerful farm atmosphere come together.

Joostenberg Wine Estate and Its Newest Addition: The Kraal

When you park, walking past the winery’s tasting room (which, on cold days, doubles as a snug, indoor seating area for The Kraal), you are immediately reeled in by the rustic farm touches.

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Flowers cascade down a pergola near the private parking, faithful ploughs and other farm implements stand dotted about and contented chickens scratch and cluck like it’s nobody business. And in all of these elements, there is a quiet peacefulness you are unlikely to encounter again any time soon. Unless you revisit this special place, of course…

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Tables recline under the sprawling trees, flowers amass the narrow pathways and the land stretches out before you into the horizon, in that seemingly endless working farm way. They don’t make Cape farms like this any more, that’s for sure.

Country Living and Working at Its Finest

By now, in the space of a few short years, I have been fortunate enough to have visited so many amazing, world-famous wine farms. Yet few have as deeply impressed upon me as Joostenberg Wine Estate.

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Why, you wonder? Because this is country living (and working) at its finest… Ask a bit about the history of the farm and this fifth generation family and you will understand that every flower, stone and living creature here is exceedingly well loved and respected… They belong.

And, for the time that you are there with them, so do you. Therein lies the purest magic of Joostenberg Wine Estate’s The Kraal.

Flowers, Food and Wine

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Joostenberg Wine Estate is a beautiful, organic-based estate, home to some truly lovely wines. But this historic farm is also alive with fruit trees, vegetables, beautiful flowers and of course, the restaurant.

Their mother used to operate the cut flower business and today, this business is still blooming (pun intended). I love that the family have kept her passion for flowers and gardening alive and well. For me, this lends an even more beautiful touch to this fine country estate.

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The restaurant, in turn, has revived another poignant family tradition: Sunday lunches. After the war, their ouma used to host Sunday lunches and afternoon teas in the majestic manorhouse (which, to this day, houses some of its original furniture and touches).

Back then, this was an essential way of making ends meet during harder times and, as is the way on farms, everyone in the family helped out.

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For me, The Kraal is a loving throwback honouring this tradition – perhaps unknowingly instilled in them by their grandmother – of combining good family lunches and togetherness on the farm.

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The winery has undoubtedly been the main focal point of the estate since 1999, when winemaking resumed on the estate. Tyrrel keeps things as organic as possible. I really love that their wine is organic. This is an important farming practice, which I wish more wine estates in South Africa strove towards.

Joostenberg Wine Estate’s Cosy Tasting Room

The Joostenberg tasting room, which is open every Sunday from 11:00 am – 15:00 pm, is housed in a re-purposed old storage shed. It’s cosy and airy inside, without needing much artificial light.

During winter, guests can sit on the couch, next to the hearth and enjoy a lovely wine tasting. While in summertime, you will surely welcome the cool interior, as you sip on beautiful wines.

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Plus, the tasting room is very creatively decked out. Parts of the old building have been cleverly incorporated into the interiors… I won’t spoil it too much because it’s worth seeing for yourself – but hint: it involves books!

And honestly, the Joostenberg Wines are sublime. These are some of the most beautiful whites I have tasted – and I am a big white wine fan!

(Note: I opted to only try white wines during our lunch (when we were treated to a wine tasting) because I was in love with them from the first sip. But they do produce some lovely sounding reds as well.)

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Where Farm Life is Brought to the Table

Nestled within a rustic, whitewashed former kraal (essentially a stonewalled pen, used for housing livestock in the olden days… these are found on most old Cape farms), the courtyard seating of The Kraal is every bit as delightful as the rest of the farm.

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As someone who was raised on various farms – first in KwaZulu-Natal and then in the Western Cape – I feel very much at home in the countryside. Some of my best memories were born on South African farms and I think it’s really special to finally find a place, which truly brings every aspect of farm life to the table.

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Cute candle houses adorn the trees, fresh flower arrangements dot the pre-set tables, bougainvillea reaches along the extended courtyard area (usually utilised for hosting larger functions and celebratory feasts) and blue skies stretch up before you, as the rest of the farm tumbles off into the distance… And each feature is tempting and inviting in its own way.

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Take a Walk Down Memory Lane…

I didn’t need much encouragement to sit at our beautifully prepared table and I was quietly mesmerised by the courtyard space, where children can run and play freely.

I’m not normally big on children in restaurants (mainly because it’s normally in a confined space and the noise and jostling becomes oppressive to anyone without kids). But The Kraal feels like it was meant to host big groups of all ages. And indeed, on the day we visited, they played host to a special birthday party.

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Somehow, all the elements come together perfectly and the sound of children laughing and playing soothing leads you on a trip down memory lane.

One for the (South African) People

The sense of peacefulness and lazy Sunday afternoon vibes emitted by The Kraal is priceless.

The Kraal offers itself as a place where old friends and family come together to celebrate life and reconnect (as they often do)… But rather than keeping it to themselves, they have selflessly invited the public to experience this homely atmosphere too.

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To me, this is something very few of our local wine estates can actually pull off, without feeling too commercialised or touristy.

This place feels like it is truly designed for the South African people. Not just because of the setting and the atmosphere – but because of every food and wine nuance too.

This is no tourist trap with all the forced glitz and glamour, where only a foreign accent and deep pocket equal good service. Rather, it looks to the earth, timeless Cape charm and people who love what they do, to do the talking. And boy, do they speak in volumes…

Where Time Passes Deliciously Slowly – and Altogether Too Fast

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Everything from the farm’s doggies dozing beneath your table (they favoured ours, something I was chuffed about) to the produce sourced directly from the estate’s grounds and gardens, makes this a unique experience. Susan, Tyrrel, Nicky and Philip have warmly welcomed the public to their family farm – and the result is incredible to see.

During our meal, I watched the other tables and I think they felt as much as ease as we did. I noticed fewer people on their smartphones… Instead, they seemed more engaged with their children and partners. Finally wholly present for a change in our digital era.

The only time I personally reached for my phone, was to snap another photo or jot down a note – but even then, the moments were widely spaced in between so I could really soak up my surroundings and just enjoy the moment. And I have to say, for once, time passed both deliciously slowly and altogether too fast at the same time.

Close-knit Team of Staff

In the kitchen, Chef Lanri Marais is the capable, considered master behind the cuisine. She knows her food and she has a lovely, approachable manner about her.

While the endlessly warm and welcoming, Veronica Manewil (also our waitress on the day) is the charming front of house manager. Much like Chef Lanri and the rest of her kitchen staff, Veronica does a stellar job.

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Another impressive element at play at Joostenberg Wines and The Kraal is how everyone chips in. Whether family or long-serving staff, everyone is part of the the love and passion at this thriving, close-knit estate and restaurant.

Again, this is a tradition which has certainly been passed down to the family from childhood. And best of all, one that they are refreshingly passing onto the next generation…

First Friday Suppers and Sunday Lunches

The Kraal is open every Sunday for its marvellous, three-course afternoon lunches. (These are priced at R360 per person; R180 for children ages 5-12.)

Lunch times start from 12:00 pm, with the last reservation slot set to 14:30 pm.

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The only exception to this rule is on the First Friday of the month, when they are open in the evenings, for a Friday supper (priced at R230 per person; R100 for children ages 5-12).

Friday supper bookings times run from 18:00 pm – 19:30 pm.

Cape-style Country Dining at Its Best

Believing strongly in seasonal menu items (many of which are sourced from the farm), The Kraal does big, slow lunches extremely well. Every ingredient and dish stands out. Both individually and as a key component to the overall meal and dining experience.

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Service is quick between courses but allows just the right amount of time to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the surrounding beauty. In addition to the excellent Joostenberg wine options, there are different cooldrinks and coffee choices for during or after your meal.

Accommodating Service at Joostenberg Wine Estate’s The Kraal

While The Kraal does not offer a separate, dedicated kids’ menu, there is something in every Sunday lunch for even the pickiest little eater to enjoy. However, please let them know in advance if you are bringing children along.

The Kraal does their best to accommodate dietary requirements. Serving staff ask in advance if you have any allergies or if there is anything you cannot eat. However, special requests cannot necessarily be guaranteed on the day. So if you are allergic to or simply against eating something – please provide advance notice.

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No matter what eating practices and beliefs you hold fast to, The Kraal offers a richly vibrant, ever-changing menu. One that incorporates the season’s freshest flavours and finest yields.

Every course is inventive, homely and appealing. And even if the flavours and ingredients sound foreign or new to you, trust The Kraal team’s food judgment… I promise you they know what they are doing with every dish and flavour pairing.

Our Sunday Lunch of Note: Slow Roast with All The Trimmings

On the day we visited, we were greeted by a beautiful Autumn Lunch menu. (Each menu is printed out for the table, decorated by lovely, parchment-style paper and pretty artwork).

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Our three-course Sunday lunch menu consisted of the following:

  • Starter:
    – Freshly baked breads; sourdough, Flenterskloof fig, honey and rosemary bread.
    – Herb butter and beetroot and yoghurt dip.
    – Free-range duck and pistachio terrine, with quince chutney.
    – Kraal baby leaf, radish and pomegranate salad.

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  • Main:
    – Slow-cooked, Klein Karoo lamb, with tomato, black olives and garlic roast baby potatoes.
    – Aubergine, olive oil and thyme puree.
    – Roast cauliflower, tenderstem broccoli with toasted seeds.

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  • Dessert:
    – Cinnamon butter roast pear, with dark chocolate custard.
    – Buchu marshmallows and date balls.

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Honestly, every mouthful of our lunch was pure heaven. There was nothing we ate that I didn’t love (and I sincerely mean it!). Even as someone who usually never, ever eats lamb (or mutton) – and despite my initial lamb foreboding – I eventually insisted on devouring all three of my roast lamb slices, much to my friend’s obvious disappointment…

If you can tempt someone into eating something they normally, by choice, avoid at all costs… then you know it’s a job well done. Especially since I didn’t just eat it… I seriously loved it! 🙂

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Another thing I really love about The Kraal is how beautiful and thoughtful the plating is. Every bowl and plate is exquisite, both in terms of colour and daintiness, while still staying true to the home-away-from-home feel.

What I Loved Most on the Food Front

As mentioned, I loved every sampled morsel (no exaggerating). But, as with every eating experience, there were some personal favourites for me.

First of all, I love, love, loved the breads. They were all so good and fresh – but the sourdough was my top pick because I am shamelessly obsessed with homemade sourdough bread. I had most of the herb butter and beetroot yoghurt dip too… no regrets there either! The chutney was also very yummy.

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Another winner was the beetroot puree. I think I paired it with everything in the first course. Even my duck, which I thought it went particularly well with… I like beetroots at the best of times – but this stuff was divine! And the colour was absolutely amazing: definitely a showstopping table piece. 🙂

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My friend really enjoyed the duck – and overall, we agreed this was a lovely, most generous starter. The salad was fresh and appealing and even though I normally shy away from pomegranate, the seeds were great in the salad.

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As for the main, it was incredible. Like I said before, I even went crazy about the lamb. But honestly, this was the perfect Cape Sunday roast from start to finish. All honest-to-goodness food – and I love that! Plus, the portioning is enough to both suitably fill and satisfy you for hours to come – and for me, that’s what a good meal should do.

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The dessert was equally amazing. (I could live on that dark chocolate custard…) The date balls were yummy and the Buchu (another traditionally Cape ingredient) marshmallows were interesting and nice.

Honestly, I loved everything we tried… This is perfect food for a farm luncheon: laidback, casual and delicious.

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A Little More on The Wine Side

As for the wine, my ultimate favourite overall was the Myburgh Bros. Muscat de Alexandrie
2018. (I had two glasses of this.) It was such a beautiful wine and I can strongly recommend it!

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Another we both really enjoyed was the Joostenberg Small Batch Collection No. 17 Roussanne
2017 – another gem.

We also tried the Joostenberg Chenin Blanc 2018. This was also a lovely white wine but was my least favourite of the three we tried.

Good to Know

If you wish to linger longer at Joostenberg Wine Estate, there is beautiful guestroom accommodation on offer. Guests have a choice between the guestroom suite or standard room. In total, the accommodation can sleep up to eight people. (Please note: Breakfast is not included in the room rate.)

Happily, The Kraal can also cater to private functions, which is great if you plan to visit and stay overnight as a group or family.

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And, in addition to Joostenberg Wine Estate and The Kraal, this talented, pioneering family also owns and manages Klein Joostenberg, which houses the following well-known businesses: Stellies Taproom, Joostenberg Bistro, Deli and Events Venue. I have never visited Klein Joostenberg but I have heard good things about it over the years so I recommend paying it a visit too.

How The Kraal Rated Overall

Honestly, it’s rare for me to be able to say this because usually most places you visit have the odd niggle or there is at least one element, which is slightly off the mark… but The Kraal was, for me, faultless. I can easily award them a 10/10 rating. (In fact, I would go so far as to say they are verging on an all-new 11/10 rating.)

The reasons behind my high rating are as follows: excellent service and a warm welcome extended by Susan and the rest of the team as a whole; small, thoughtful touches for each table (like the fresh roses and beautifully printed menu); calm, welcoming serving staff – and best of all, truly quality, unpretentious and amazing food (and wine).

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It is not often that an experience captures all the right elements – good food, wine and service – so perfectly and with such effortlessness – but, based on my first visit, The Kraal certainly did this for me.

Above all, the food really is hearty, honest-to-good food, enhanced by a relaxing family atmosphere, a charming estate and excellent service from Susan and her team of staff.

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I can thoroughly recommend The Kraal for a First Friday supper or special Sunday lunch.

As I said before, this is not just food for your tummy – it’s food for your mind and soul too – and that’s powerful stuff indeed.

A Word of Thanks

I would like to extend a very special word of thanks firstly to Susan Dehosse and her brothers, Tyrrel and Philip, for welcoming us to their family estate.

Susan really is a wonderful hostess to deal with and even delighted us with a quick, pre-lunch tour of the main estate; this was a gesture I really appreciated.

Naturally, I would also like to say a big thank you to Susan, Chef Lanri, Veronica and the rest of The Kraal Restaurant team for hosting us for this wonderful dining experience. It was excellent from start to finish and each staff member was a pleasure to deal with. This is something they projected to each and every visitor on the day; it was truly refreshing. 🙂

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We loved every minute with The Kraal at Joostenberg Wine Estate and I can honestly say this is one of the most special, memorable review experiences I have had in a long time. Every aspect of the outing (and the lead-up to it) was smooth, efficient and utterly enjoyable.

For more information on The Kraal at Joostenberg Wine Estate and its offerings, please contact: +27 (079) 641 1320 or email them at: kraalrestaurant@joostenberg.co.za.

You can also visit the Joostenberg Wine Estate website or find The Kraal for yourself at: Joostenberg Wine Estate, Hoopenberg Road, Muldersvlei, Stellenbosch, South Africa.

The Kraal is also on all leading social media platforms, so be sure to connect with and follow them on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

Author: Tamlyn Ryan

Content writer by day and blogger by night, Tamlyn Ryan passionately runs her own travel blog, called Tamlyn Amber Wanderlust, from her home base of Cape Town, South Africa. And, despite a national diploma in Journalism, in her free time, Tamlyn’s preferred niche remains travel writing.

Tamlyn is a hopeless wanderer, equipped with an endless passion for road trips, carefully planned, holiday itineraries and, above all else, an innate love for the great outdoors.

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