Accommodation and Restaurant Review: Dunstone Country Estate and Winery, Wellington wows

Dunstone Country Estate, nestled beneath the shadows of the breath-taking Limietberg mountains, turned out to be the most fitting way for us to end our stellar 2017 wanderings. This impressive boutique wine estate and accommodation guest farm is as fine as any in the land – as we found out during our one-night stay at this gorgeous wine farm.

Dunstone is, on so many levels, a world-class experience. Through my blog and travel loving spirit, I’ve visited and stayed at my fair share of top places in the past year (something I feel continuously grateful for) – but Dunstone is arguably one of the most memorable to date.

Honestly, for me, it was faultless… Everything, from the owners and staff to the farm’s perfect winelands-meets-mountains setting, beautiful accommodation and delicious food, was absolutely sublime.

Location, location

Photo credit: @jakkalsfontein

Dunstone is well-situated too, for while it is located a few minutes’ from the rural winelands town of Wellington, it is removed enough to feel like the heart of the Cape countryside… and yet, even then, you’re only a 45- or 60-minute drive away from Cape Town!

Nestled in the beautiful and bowl-like Bovlei valley, Dunstone Country Estate and Winery is sheltered, secluded and unpretentious, despite its four- and five-star accommodation, popular country bistro and award-winning wines.

The views – from the moment you make your way along the quiet farm road towards Dunstone – are positively exquisite – and maybe that word sums Dunstone up perfectly…

Dunstone’s exceptional people

Owned by British expats, Lee and Abbi Wallis, Dunstone is blessed not only with exceptional views, but with exceptional people too, from Abbi and Lee to the guest house staff and waiters at the farm’s charming bistro, The Stone Kitchen.

In estate manager, Carmen, and her capable fellow staff members, Abbi and Lee have found an exemplary team to run the estate like clockwork, even when the couple themselves are away.

Everyone we dealt with was a treat… This in itself is a rare but refreshing find – and one not often encountered.

Abbi and Lee have called Dunstone home for some fifteen years now – and it is named after the farm where they formerly lived in England and where they also got engaged, further ensuring this South African estate has a very special place in their hearts (and in mine too now).

The bold, proud farm signs and emblems hint at the gentle, sweet dogs, Merlot the 2nd and Rose, who roam the farm as living icons.

What a lot it offers

Dunstone Country Estate and Winery offers both day- and overnight visitors a great deal. Not only is there stunning four- and five-star accommodation in their family-run guesthouse (which forms part of the Dunstone Collection; as far reaching as Jacobsbaai and De Waterkant) and a country-style bistro – but there is also wonderful wine tasting, offered up by their award-winning wines.

These are produced from their terroir-driven, single-vineyards, first planted on the farm in 2003, a year after Lee and Abbi arrived at Dunstone.

The cellar (now-situated at the top of the farm, near the stunning Dunstone Manor) is usually open from Monday to Friday – and occasionally Saturdays, if it’s for a prior, large booking and medical practitioner, Lee is available.

However, all of Dunstones wines (browse here) are available for tasting, purchasing and ordering directly from the estate. Handily, you can also enjoy tasting and buying the wines at The Stone Kitchen.

Dunstone’s offering include a great selection of full-bodied reds, fruity, delicious whites and even a special rose too, and grapes are harvested by hand to promote the highest quality of traditional, time-old wine-making methods.

The Dunstone wine range currently runs as follows: Sauvignon Blanc, Dunstone Merlot, Shiraz, Chenin Blanc, Viognier, Shiraz Rose and Stones in the Sun. (Fact: Sale proceeds from the Stones in the Sun wine are used to empower Dunstone’s workers and their families).

On the evening of our stay – during which we dined at hidden gem of an eatery, The Stone Kitchen – I only sampled the Chenin Blanc 2017 – but I can tell you that it was a really great wine!

I was also impressed to see that Dunstone wines are stocked by some top local establishments, including La Cotte Inn, The Foodbarn Deli and Wine Concepts.

One night of wonder

Arriving late on Friday afternoon, we were escorted to our adorable Cape Dutch cottage, Guava Cottage… Set among the vineyards and fruit orchards, and draped with colourful, flowering bougainvillea, this cosy-looking cottage (equipped with the quintessential Cape ‘stoep’, or verandah) might look small from the outside – but trust me, it’s far from small when it comes to actual size and charm!

Inside, you will find an elegantly decked out two-bedroom home, with an expansive open-plan lounge and kitchen, as well as a beautifully private pool area. The pool area provides deck chairs, a built-in braai and a deliciously heated pool, and is walled off from the fruit orchards beyond… a particularly special treat!

Guava Cottage also has two small, yet lovely bathrooms, with the en-suite bathroom for the main bedroom and the single-standing one designed for the second bedroom/main home.

Dunstone’s Guava Cottage is delightful, without being overly fancy or uncharacteristically posh. It fits in perfectly with its laid-back farm surroundings and yet, it offers every possible luxury, from the wood-dominant kitchen – overflowing with every necessary cooking utensil – to the lovely lounge, boldly proclaiming an air of Britishness-meets-Cape-charm, with its colourful Union Jack carpet.

Our main bedroom was absolutely lovely – with a vast bed that was comfortable and decadent – and naturally offers the best views. The en-suite bathroom meanwhile, was wonderful too. (Note: It offers careful water saving tips or grey water information, as does the kitchen sink area, a sad but sobering reminder of the Western Cape’s ongoing, devastating drought.)

But it was the simple, thoughtful touches – like our bed, strewn with bougainvillea flowers, or the personalised welcoming note, placed with a heart-shaped cookie, on the kitchen table – that made me personally feel especially at home.

The cottage, like every other indoor section at Dunstone, has its own WiFi (though signal can fluctuate depending on where you are on the farm) and a flat-screen TV, set-up with a DStv bouquet. There’s also a wealth of board games, CDs and books, just in case the weather’s bad and you want to stay inside the lounge near the fireplace…

No matter which room you are in, you’re blessed with glorious views of the outside pool area, thanks to the French doors that open out onto it…

When we arrived at reception, we pre-ordered supper (you can enjoy this in your room or at The Stone Kitchen; though we opted for the latter), so, after unpacking, we sat in the lounge enjoying the aircon’s coolness after yet another familiarly roasty day in Wellington. (There is an aircon system in the bedrooms as well.)

As we enjoyed a sunset among the vineyards, seated on our snug porch, vibrant sounds of farm life drifted up to us – but Guava Cottage is entirely private despite this. It’s also wonderfully close to the reception area (a short walk up the road from Guava) and in particular, The Stone Kitchen.

When it was time for supper, we cut through the vineyard and made our way down via the garden and orchards (past friendly, pot-belly piggies) to the charming bistro, which lay a stone’s throw away from our wonderful overnight abode…

Our return walk was especially memorable, as, on that balmy summer’s night, we looked up to a sky full of stars – and for a welcome change: zero air pollution.

Dunstone dining: The Stone Kitchen

The Stone Kitchen is a lovely country bistro, with a modern and airy feel to it. Like every other inch of Dunstone, this rustic restaurant offers a panoramic vista of mountains and orchids.

From the outside, especially at dusk, The Stone Kitchen hints at its modern edge, through eye-catching spotlights and floor-to-ceiling glass sliding doors, which open out onto the outside porch seating area. This overlooks the main parking area, which, like the bistro itself, is tucked away unobtrusively amid fruit orchards… Overall, the bistro is privileged to enjoy a truly gorgeous country setting.

Inside, its fascinating, cross-beam roof and simple stone floor are finely complemented by different sections, including: a large blackboard, which showcases mounted wine bottles, framed wall quotes, brickwork (especially near the kitchen’s office and wine storage facility), as well as simple, yet striking cream or grape-coloured walls.

Barrels and unique light fittings, showing every stage of the wine-making (from vine to barrel to bottle), add a true wine farm feeling, while the small wine tasting bar area and confectionery counter (displaying sweeties and cakes) provide a nice mix of food-and-wine playfulness, found in many bistros, cafes and restaurants across the Cape.

Not only are there the expansive indoor and porch seating areas, but guests can also dine out in the garden, which has wonderful child-friendly play facilities (there’s even an old wooden ‘stove’ that I loved). Inside, you will find a lovely enclosed play area, just off from the main bistro, so parents can watch their kiddies play while they eat and chat.

The Stone Kitchen also has a great kiddies’ menu, and with prior arrangement, the bistro can wonderfully cater for events like baby showers, kids’ parties and kitchen teas.

The bistro also has a lovely, fireside lounge area, which guests can make use of while they wait to be seated or before/after their meal. The wooden tables and chairs alternate between normal single seaters with tables to bigger bench-style ones, ideal for larger groups.

For supper, we dined alone (overnight guests and outside guests alike have the option of supper, though pre-booking is essential) – but the following morning, the place was full to the rafters, with more people arriving by the minute. For this reason, I can easily see why it is strongly advisable to book on weekends for breakfast or lunch.

The Stone Kitchen offers a lovely selection of classic, country-style food, from toasted sandwiches to cheese platters to yummy burgers and desserts. However, I particularly favoured their breakfast menu. As overnight guests, we could choose from this breakfast menu and the generous breakfast buffet.

For supper, my boyfriend and I enjoyed The Dunstone Burger (R98) and Gypsy ham and mature cheddar sandwich (R65) respectively – although we started off with complementary farm-fresh bread, which was lovely!

The Dunstone Burger was a lamb burger, topped with goat’s cheese, merlot-onion marmalade, shoestring fries and onion rings. It looked good and my boyfriend rated it 7/10.

For me, the gypsy ham sandwich (I opted for brown bread, and it was served with tomato and homemade chutney, as well as fries) was great, and I would award it a 9/10 rating.

The following morning, we had The Big Stone (R75) and The Health Stone (R85) breakfasts, along with some really great coffee!

My Health Stone option offered delicious smoked salmon, two poached eggs, zesty creme fraiche, rocket, rosa tomatoes and toast – and I really, really loved every mouthful of it! It was attractively presented and very well-cooked. I can easily rate the overall breakfast experience as 10/10. (I also enjoyed the chilled, easy listening music, which permeated throughout the bistro that Saturday morning.)

For me, supper would be a 9/10 overall, purely because I found the supper menu slightly more limiting in its options).

Photo credit: @jakkalsfontein

My boyfriend had The Big Stone, which came with two fried eggs, streaky bacon, pork breakfast sausage, sauteed mushrooms, roasted tomatoes and toast. He really enjoyed it and rated it 8/10.

In terms of the bistro’s setting, that is undoubtedly a 10/10. The service was professional, friendly and welcoming – and overall, The Stone Kitchen is a slick and enjoyable operation, with excellent food and drinks.

Photo credit: @jakkalsfontein

The Stone Kitchen is open for breakfast and lunch daily in summer (November – April), from 08:30 am – 16:00 pm – and during winter (May – October) from Wednesday to Sunday, 08:30 am – 16:00 pm. 

Dinner is on Friday and Saturdays till 10:00pm but booking is essential. (Note: If the bistro has no bookings, the kitchen will close early).

Contact The Stone Kitchen on +27 (021) 873 6770 or email them at food@dunstone.co.za

Visit The Stone Kitchen at Dunstone Country Estate, Bovlei Road, Wellington, Western Cape, South Africa.

Dunstone’s Guest Lounge

Another awesome feature at Dunstone is the Guest Lounge, which every overnight guest can access twenty-four hours a day. (You’ll find the key on your room’s set; just remember to lock it and switch the lights off when you leave at night…)

Photo credit: @jakkalsfontein

The guest lounge is ideally placed: next door to reception and across from Dunstone’s other stunning garden rooms and infinity pool.

This beautiful lounge opens out onto a covered porch, impressively overlooking the vineyards and mountains beyond. Again, there are views for days here…

We only made brief use of the lounge when we checked out (check-out is set at around 12:00 pm) but it’s gorgeous! Not only is it tastefully furnished and done out, but also has an honesty bar (just remember to write down what you have so you can pay for it; no wine by the glass though, please) and comfortable couches and loungers inside and out for you to recline or read on.

My overall experience: A state of awe

Our overall experience of Dunstone was, as I stated earlier, faultless – an easy, yet well-deserved 10/10 rating.

This gorgeous winelands estate now has a very special place in my heart and travel memory, and I hope that you, too, will someday have the chance to experience this spectacular place – and its people – for yourself, even if it just means a quick meal at The Stone Kitchen or a fun wine tasting on the farm.

Photo credit: @jakkalsfontein

Everyone from Abbi right down to each staff member we came in contact with, made our stay even more pleasurable by expressing great politeness, professionalism and most importantly, heartfelt welcome.

Our four-star cottage, Guava Cottage was superb, and it is easily one of the best places I’ve stayed in during 2017, especially when you consider the accommodation in conjunction to everything else at Dunstone. For me, it’s a strong 10/10 rating for the beautiful Guava Cottage too.

Dunstone Country Estate – and indeed Guava Cottage – is the kind of place you go not to disappear from life… but to rediscover the things in it that truly matter, when all the day-to-day responsibilities and work duties are kindly taken away in one gentle sweep.

It is, in every way, a place of pure class and natural beauty, made all the more special by the fine establishment – and staff – Lee and Abbi have so carefully honed and brought together.

Thank you very much to Dunstone Country Estate, owners Abbi and Lee Wallis, as well as their excellent staff, for making our stay and meals at Dunstone so spectacularly memorable and enjoyable! We loved each moment with you – Dunstone is a truly special place!

For more information on Dunstone Country Estate and all that it offers, please contact Dunstone on: +27 (021) 864 1504 or email them at stay@dunstone.co.za.

For wine tasting and wine sales enquiries, please contact: +27 (021) 873 6770 or email wine@dunstone.co.za.

You can also visit their website or find them for yourself at: Dunstone Country Estate, Bovlei Road, Wellington, Western Cape, South Africa. 

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

 

Author: Tamlyn Amber 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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