On my second estate visit to the beautiful Hazendal Wine Estate near Stellenbosch, we were privileged enough to be invited to enjoy Hazendal’s incredible Babushka Picnics. In August 2019, I had previously visited this stunning Stellenbosch estate for their enchanting Russian tea ceremony. And, after being thoroughly impressed by that offering, I had mentally added their picnics to my still-to-do list.
Particularly after that exquisite experience, I knew I would return to Hazendal because this is not a ‘visit once’ type of estate. Rather, it is one you enjoy over and over again. Each time unwrapping its beauty and attractions with renewed joy and excitement.
Where Cape and Russian Culture Meet
With its Cape- and Russian-culture and heritage and inspired revamp in recent years, Hazendal is arguably one of the most fascinating, well-rounded, family-friendly estates in the Winelands.
In fact, I would go so far as to say I consider it one of the best estates for visiting families to enjoy.
There really is something for everyone to savour and experience at this estate. Especially with the indoor kids’ play centre, Wonderdal; vintage car display; Pivnushka Beer Garden; Russian tea; Marvol Gallery; and beautiful, artsy gardens.
Peaceful Picnics on the Manor Lawns
Enjoyed on the estate’s exquisite manor lawns, in front of the Babushka Deli, Hazendal’s picnics are a relaxed, yet highly quality affair.
The setting is especially dreamy, with stunning views of the distant mountains, tranquil Hazendal gardens (a visual treat) and beautifully restored Cape Dutch buildings that adorn this estate.
Kids enjoy rolling and playing on the manor lawns, while parents and grandparents lounge with a glass of wine and a picnic feast before them.
Babushka Deli: At the Heart of Hazendal
Hazendal’s picnics are prepared and collected from the estate’s charming, cosy Babushka Deli. The deli pays homage to the Russian Babushka, or grandmother, who is always the generous, doting, food-providing centre of Russian homes.
And like a real-life Babushka, Hazendal’s deli is where you find a veritable food trove, where warm hospitality, delicious eats and unique gifts come to life.
It is a place to enter empty-handed and leave with at least three or four delicious treats (minimum). Their cake and sweet treat display alone are a sight to behold – as much as an experience to savour.
Additionally, the deli is also the go-to spot for everything from yummy, seasonal breakfasts to inspired organic lunches.
With an extensive menu, curated by executive chef, Michelle Theron, Babushka Deli offers everything from healthy breakfasts to contemporary versions of classic Russian dishes. Mouth-watering fresh breads and artisanal pastries (baked on-site daily) are also available for takeaway or to enjoy in the deli.
The deli also has an excellent, healthy kids’ menu. So, with the spacious rolling lawns and toddler playground – Babushka Deli is perfect for visiting families to enjoy.
Hazendal’s Babushka Picnics: A Picnic Feast that Stays the Day
And this is before you even get to the deli’s excellent picnic baskets, which overflow with a mix of South African and Russian delicacies alike. Think: everything from tasty snoek pâté to traditional, Russian olivier potato salad.
Best of all, Hazendal always keeps dietary requirements and preferences in mind. Meaning if you are vegetarian, vegan or even gluten-intolerant, you are happily catered for too, as the estate also has vegan-, vegetarian- and gluten-free picnic options.
Note: Hazendal’s picnic menus are seasonal and change depending on farm fresh product availability.
Hazendal’s Babushka picnic baskets are designed for two adults sharing (R300 per person) – with a separate kiddies’ picnic option available (R140 per child). But with the amount of food you receive, you could actually almost feed three adults with their double picnic.
It’s rare for me to leave a picnic experience feeling full for the rest of the day. But, after our Hazendal picnic, both my friend and I were too content and full to even contemplate any further food that day.
To me, that’s how a good picnic should be: it should be satisfying and leave you full for hours to come.
Picture-perfect Picnic Spots
After we had settled at our spot, which had (really comfortable) camper chairs, a handy wooden drinks’ stand and a wide blanket sprawled around it, we received our picnic basket.
The traditional wicker basket gives off the quintessential picnic vibe, which, combined with good weather, ensures the perfect picnic atmosphere.
Our views, overlooking the estate’s rolling lawns, homestead and distant farmlands and mountains, were spectacular, making the setting even more idyllic.
Hazendal has two picnic slots: 10:00 am or 13:00 pm for picnic basket collections. But once you have collected your basket, you can spend hours enjoying the estate grounds and leisurely snacking.
Because we collected our picnic at 13:00 pm, the estate was at the height of the lunchtime frenzy. However, safety during COVID-19 feels even more certain here.
All cars (and passengers) entering the estate are scanned in with a temperature check; there are ample sanitisation stations dotted all over; and the grounds are vast, allowing for easy social distancing.
I was initially a bit concerned by how close people were walking to our picnic spot and at first, it did feel like it wasn’t the most private estate picnic experience I have enjoyed (mainly because the lawns are quite centrally located, with plenty of foot traffic passing by). But once the post-lunch lull set in, things improved and we were able to relax and enjoy ourselves more.
Inside Our Babushka Picnic Basket
Opening our basket revealed a mouth-watering array of savoury dishes and a dessert cup, a recycling bag, printed menu, more eco-friendly cutlery, plates and serviettes, with a little bread bag neatly placed alongside it.
What really impressed us was the thought that went into the packaging. For a start, having a recycling bag on-hand is especially useful. Particularly on a blustery day or to prevent the basket from getting soiled when you’re finished eating.
Another really handy inclusion was the copy of our standard picnic menu. Although I usually download a virtual copy, this is the first estate picnic I have ever received a copy of our picnic menu and a disposable recycling bag with.
I understand that, to some, having a printed menu might not be eco-friendly (although the rest of the picnic’s packaging more than makes up for it) and I understand that. But it definitely helps one to know what you are eating and in which order to tackle your picnic.
Especially as some picnic menus are slightly different from the ones available on the estate’s website. This normally means, in most instances, it’s guesswork at best. Personally, I like to know what I am eating, while I’m eating it, so the printed copy was a big plus for me.
The little drinks stand was another indispenable feature – and a wonderful addition to our picnic setup.
Blown Away by Babushka’s Picnic Spread: Quantity and Quality Alike
Our standard picnic included the following:
– Babushka artisan breads and flavoured Lurpak butter
(These, and our giant pretzels, were so fresh and absolutely divine. The only thing I wasn’t mad on was a soft cracker biscuit but overall, the bread was a firm 10/10.)
– Hummus with garlic, rosemary and turmeric marinated mushrooms
(I am not a huge hummus fan so I rate it 7/10. But my friend, who likes it normally, loved hers and it was, admittedly, very nice. The mushrooms were perfectly cooked and delicious. Alhough my friend is not usually a mushroom eater, even she raved, so I rate the mushrooms a 9/10.)
– Potted snoek pâté
(I essentially ate this by myself and it was extremely delicious! In essence, the perfect fish pâté so I rate it 10/10.)
– Cold meat selection
(My friend isn’t a big meat eater so while she enjoyed the hummus and some of the chicken, I enjoyed the cold meat cuts. The cold meat cuts were fresh and yummy without being too salty, so 8/10 for me.)
Show-stopping Chicken and Salads
– Roast chicken kebab with dukka
(This roasted chicken kebab is honestly the best thing since sliced bread… It was positively divine and perfectly flavoured! Definitely a showstopper of a picnic dish. So it’s an effortless 10/10 for this perfectly cooked, tasty chicken kebab.)
– Asian salad, mixed seeds, ginger and soy dressing
(While we both enjoyed this Asian salad, which had a slight sweet, very spicy taste, we agreed it somehow lacked a bit of salt flavouring. So it’s a 7/10 for me.)
– Russian olivier potato salad
(This traditional Russian potato salad, which includes mixed vegetable and meat, was incredible. I loved this potato salad so it’s an easy 10/10!)
Cheese and Dessert to round it Off
– Local Dalewood cheese and homemade chutney and preserved figs
(The fact that every local picnic sources Dalewood cheese speaks volumes about the quality and popularity of this local cheesery. As usual, I loved their cheeses.
With our picnic, we had a lovely blue cheese, olive brie and Huguenot (hard) cheese. I wasn’t overly mad about the signature Huguenot cheese but the cheeses were all good and 10/10 in terms of quality, freshness and taste.
The accompanying chutney preserve was a bit too sharp for me (a taste preference only) but the little figs were divine so 7/10 for the preserves overall.)
– A decadent dessert cup of the day
(Our dessert cup of the day was a kind of mousse cup, with whipped cream and cake sponge. It was extremely delicious but quite rich. The dessert cup was a 9/10 for me.
I am glad I ordered a takeaway cappuccino to enjoy with it too. Hazendal’s Babushka Deli makes incredible coffee… a must-try. Their bakery spread and coffee rates as a firm 10/10.)
How It Rated
Overall, our Hazendal Babushka Picnic was a firm 9.5/10. This is one of my highest picnic ratings to date… and here’s why! In terms of service, setting, professionalism, seated comfort and general thoughtfulness, this picnic is hard to beat.
Add to that, an incredibly generous, quality picnic for two adults sharing and a sublime setting – and it is essentially faultless. I especially love how wonderful Hazendal’s picnics are for families with kids and grandkids.
The only slight downside for me here is that the picnic spots are quite centrally located. But this is always the case at the more popular, busy estates and something a bit out of their control.
Although drinks are not included in your picnic and must be ordered separately from the deli, we were fortunate enough to try some of Hazendal’s pink bubbly and amazing Christoffel Hazenwinkel 2018 white blend.
Both the estate’s bubbly and white wine blend were outstanding (easily 10/10 for both). If you have a designated driver, definitely order some wine or bubbly to enjoy with your picnic, it’s refreshing and wonderful! Otherwise, there are milkshakes, juices, water and hot beverages available to order.
Hazendal’s Babushka Picnics are seasonal and menus change according to availability of fresh farm produce. Picnics – regardless of the option you choose – are R300 per adult and R140 for a kiddies’ picnic.
Drinks are excluded but the estate has a wide selection of wine (or bubbly), hot or cold beverages, water and juice to choose from at Babushka Deli.
In addition to their standard, meat-inclusive picnic option, there are vegetarian, gluten-free or vegan picnic options available. For kiddies, they can enjoy the standard picnic or a vegan version.
To book, please use the Dineplan booking system available here or contact the estate directly: +27(021) 205 5620, email@example.com.
A Word of Thanks
I would like to thank Hazendal for hosting me for this incredible picnic experience. I have enjoyed my fair share of Cape Winelands picnics over the years, yet honestly, Hazendal’s has blown most of those entirely out of the water. Everything from the delicious food to their wonderful optional drinks to the soothing Cape Union camper chairs and puffy bean bags ensure a picnic of note.
A special thanks to Anel La Grange and Anja du Plessis for arranging this wonderful picnic experience, as well as to the excellent Babushka Deli and Wonderdal staff who made us feel so welcome on the day and who showed amazing professionalism and service. Hazendal staff never fail to impress me.
Lastly, thank you to my good friend and loyal travel partner, Alicia, for sharing this lovely experience with me.
For more information on Hazendal and its amazing Babushka picnics, please contact: +27 (021) 205 5620 or email them at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also visit their website or find them for yourself at Hazendal, Bottelary Road, Stellenbosch, Western Cape, South Africa.
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.