Tucked away in the gorgeous Overberg region, one finds the noble and ever-expanding Benguela Cove Lagoon Wine Estate.
Surrounded by glorious mountains, encircled by nature reserves and overlooking a beautiful, peaceful lagoon, Benguela Cove is enviously well-positioned.
I have been to many wine estates, particularly in the past two years, and only a handful have impressed me as thoroughly as Benguela Cove.
This wine estate, which not only offers wonderful wines but rich, family-friendly experiences, is almost insanely underrated – and yet, here in the Bot River region, a stone’s throw from the popular coastal town of Hermanus, you find a patch of well-concealed wine-farm heaven.
Oh, the things you’ll see…
You enter the estate feeling a sense of calm, only to be welcomed into lavish interiors, which are edgy and elegant with their furnishings, floor-to-ceiling glass doors and fascinating artworks, offered up by talented artists like Floris van Zyl.
Photo credit: @jakkalsfontein
The interiors, from the estate’s impressive shop to the stylish Moody Lagoon restaurant and wine cellar (which boasts several jaw-dropping, intricate chandeliers) are sublime, oozing lavishness even as they make you feel oddly at home.
Welcoming, purely professional staff and plush leather couches invite you to enjoy a wine tasting, while the estate’s views – superb from every corner – whisper for you to stay and explore as long as you can.
Indeed, a full day is only just enough time to enjoy most of the estate’s experiences. On the day of our visit recently, we crammed in adventure pirate golf, a pontoon ride, a brief vineyard drive, a cheese and wine tasting and plenty of exploring and photo ops too… And even when we left close to sundown, I felt like there was so much more to be savoured and experienced here.
The estate is a dream for couples (even if you are not huge wine drinkers) but is also extremely well-suited to young families or groups of travelling friends.
There is something for everyone here to enjoy here – young or old, it matters not.
When we arrived at the estate, almost the first thing tasting room manager Stephen Moller asked us was if we had ever played pirate golf?
My interest piqued, I asked with a broad grin, “Pirate golf? What’s that..?”
In many ways, Benguela Cove’s new pirate adventure golf (opened on March 23) is the ultimate putt putt experience for everyone to enjoy…
Situated a short distance away, the pirate/adventure golf arena commands its own impressive view of the lagoon and distant mountains. It is here that, behind a vast entrance sign, one discovers a delightful pirate merchandise shop-cum-family eatery (in Blackbeard’s Diner), surrounded by something that could easily rival the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland… In fact, there is even a life-sized, realistic replica of Captain Jack Sparrow awaiting you on this 18-hole course!
So, get yourself a pirate hat, club and golf ball and see if you can avoid (figuratively) walking the plank, mate…
Truth be told, we had the most wonderful time competing against one another and took our time exploring the hidden surprises and dodging mischievous pirates at every hole…
You will receive a cool scorecard, which also offers a rundown of the rules… And while we were very meticulous about keeping our tally going, I think we might have altered the rules slightly at times. (Confession: Yes, I may have retried a shot or two a few too many times – but shh!)
Whether you hit over par or under par or simply straight into the surrounding water features – the fun remains the same: immense!
Photo credit: @jakkalsfontein
This was arguably one of the most fun experiences we have enjoyed together on any wine farm (and in general) to date – and the best part of all is, our fellow adults loved it as much as the excited young kids and tweens around us.
Photo credit: @jakkalsfontein
For me, it’s a firm 10/10 rating for this epic pirate golf!
Bookings for the Benguela Cove pirate adventure golf are not required, and pricing ranges as follows: R35 (Mini Pirate; 3 years and under); R70 (Young Pirate; 4-11 years), R90 (Pirate; 12 years and older), R75 (Senior Pirate; 60 years and over) and finally, a Family of 5 ticket for R280 (max two adults per family).
For more information, please see the dedicated pirate golf website or contact Benguela Cove Lagoon Wine Estate directly on (087) 357 0637 or email them at email@example.com.
Although we did not have the pleasure of dining at this stylish restaurant – which offers impeccable views of both the Atlantic Ocean and the lagoon – we were fortunate enough to stroll through its interiors, as we made our way to and from the pirate golf.
By day, Moody Lagoon restaurant is a casual, relaxed and modern space, but by night, it’s transformed into a strictly dining affair.
And with its perfect furnishings, such as the corner grand piano (decorated with the most amazing floral patterns), plush blue seating and African decor elements, Moody Lagoon is every bit the fancy restaurant – just minus the usual stiffness that such style demands.
Here, it seems, restaurant manager, Jack Black – an almost constant presence in the space – and talented Namibian head chef, Annie Badenhorst, with the help of their team, run a great restaurant like clockwork.
The food draws from South African influences, keeping things fresh and local. Naturally, seafood and other wine-paired food options dominate, and oysters are even available year-round.
Photo credit: @jakkalsfontein
In addition to the estate’s own Moody Lagoon, the Benguela Cove Collection also owns Somerset West-situated Nom Nom and Benguela Brasserie & Restaurant, found in the gorgeous Garden Route.
If you’re after a stylish night out with friends or somewhere to take your special someone, head to Moody Lagoon at night – while, by day, it’s perfect for family and friend outings, particularly over weekends.
Moody Lagoon is open for breakfast (Saturdays, 8:00 am – 10:30 am), brunch (Sundays, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm), lunch (Monday to Sunday, 12:00 pm – 15:00 pm) and dinner (Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 18:00 pm – 21:00 pm). Casual sharing platters, meanwhile, are served daily, from 11:00 am – 16:00 pm. Please note: Public Holiday opening times may differ.
For more information or to book, please contact Moody Lagoon on (087) 357 0637 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wine on the Lagoon and a secluded beach
Next up, we, along with another couple, were entranced by the estate’s charming pontoon boat, Lady Bonnie, as she took us from the edges of the lagoon’s shoreline and across its vastness (yes, even in this terrible drought), whisking us away to a magical, semi-secluded beach. (Generally, this beach is frequented by only a few of the estate’s local homeowners.)
As Lady Bonnie cut gently through the waters towards the beach, we – seated on plush leather seats, with a glass of unwooded Lighthouse Sauvignon Blanc in hand – enjoyed marvelling at the surrounding waters, mountains and estate.
Once our destination was reached, our trusty skipper Owen allowed us some 15 minutes on land to enjoy more stunning views from the sand dunes. Surrounded by the ocean on one side and the lagoon on the other, we toasted to a bright future on a beautiful, pristine beach.
Photo credit: @jakkalsfontein
With the time up, we descended the bright, white dunes with great reluctance and made our way back down to the pontoon boat for our leisurely return cruise…
Without a doubt, this cruise was certainly one of my most treasured and beautiful experiences on any estate to date. And the views? Well, they’re outstanding too!
I also loved that you can really see and appreciate the estate’s natural surroundings and wonderful birdlife, as, even on our cruise, we noted pelicans, pink flamingos and seagulls too.
Although the pontoon cruises are naturally weather-dependent and booking is preferred (though not essential), the pontoon boat trip is open to kids and adults and can be available seven days a week.
The pontoon is able to host twelve passengers at a time, is chic and comfortable and has some nifty glass holders to make sure your wine is well taken care of no matter the rocking of the waves. And skipper Owen is a calming, gentlemanly and helpful presence from start to finish.
If you would like to enjoy wine on your trip (which I strongly recommend, as it really adds to the whole experience and makes you feel rather royal), please arrive an hour prior to your trip to purchase your wine.
As for our unwooded Lighthouse Sauvignon Blanc, it was a superb, fresh and gorgeous tasting wine, which in and of itself is worthy of a 10/10 rating.
The pontoon trip lasts for roughly an hour, with a permitted stop on the beach, and costs R150 (per adult), R75 (kid tours) or R400 (family of four, with two adults and two kids) respectively.
As a wine farm experience, this deserves a firm 10/10 rating – as you really can end up with a truly faultless experience… which is heaps of fun and oh-so-romantic too!
Safari vineyard tours… with a wine tasting!
On our trip back, we hopped back into the sheltered safari vehicle (seriously comfortable by safari vehicle standards) before Owen took us for a quick drive through the vineyards, which had already turned to autumn colours. Again, this offered us more stunning natural views and insight into another element of the estate…
Photo credit: @jakkalsfontein
You can enjoy full vineyard safari trips (and a wine tasting), which will allow you to learn more about the growing cycling, farming techniques and various cultivars of this 200-hectare wine estate. (Fun fact: As far as possible, the vineyards are organic, giving a thoughtful nod to nature.)
The vineyard safari tour costs R200 (per adult), R75 (per child; includes juice) or R500 for a family vineyard trip (with two adults and two kids). The trip runs for an hour and will include a wine tasting. Again, booking is preferred but is not essential.
Cheese and wine at Benguela Cove to hit all the right notes
Finally, as the day was winding to a peaceful end, we retired to the tasting room to enjoy a wonderful cheese and wine tasting.
The wine tasting was the Tasting of Five Benguela Cove Wines (R80 per person). Currently, for each five wine tasting, the Pinot Noir is included as a great extra, as the estate looks to push this beautiful wine. (And there is plenty of excitement around the Pinot Noir 2017, which should release in July).
And, although we sampled a taster of all of the cheeses, each of which was excellent in its own right, you can order a proper Cheese and Wine Pairing for R110 per person. This will include everything from Caciotta to Karoo Crumble and a host of other marvellous cheeses besides, so I definitely recommend it!
The wines were brought to us in pairs, starting off with the (wooded) Sauvignon Blanc 2017 and the Chardonnay 2016. This Sauv is crisp, possessing citrus-y flavours and, like the unwooded variety, is a really beautiful and excellent wine.
The Chardonnay, meanwhile, has oaky flavours and lies in the barrel for ten months. It’s also essential to mention that this wine was the winner of double gold at the Michelangelo International Wine and Spirit Awards 2017 – and it’s really not hard for me to see why… It was a divine wine (my overall favourite, in fact) and made for a beautiful, smooth and delicious wine.
Next up, was the Pinot Noir 2015 and the Collage Red Blend. Like all of Benguela Cove Lagoon’s labels and bottling styles are, the Pinot Noir was a stunningly packaged wine and really caught my attention with its crisp, golden tones.
The Pinor Noir 2015 offers cherries on the nose and slightly on the palate too. What’s more, it’s a gorgeous ruby red colour and makes for a beautiful wine, with a faint wooded taste that makes its presence felt without being in any way overpowering. The Collage Red Blend was a lovely bodied wine, but ended up as my personal least favourite overall.
Then it was time for the Cab Sauvignon and the Syrah… The Cab Sav has a distinct, robust taste, with sinfully good dark chocolate notes. While the Syrah, derived from Shiraz, is always a spicy kind of wine and will not be everyone’s type of wine…
For me though, the Cab Sav was a stunning, delicious wine and the Syrah was softer and more appealing than your usual Syrah, and I didn’t find it too spicy, which is a huge plus.
Overall, my favourites (in order) were: the Chardonnay (10/10), the two Sauvignon Blancs (unwooded and wooded both rate as 10/10), Pinot Noir (10/10 – and I’m not always a fan!) and for the Syrah and Collage, they were a 9.5, despite their being my least favourite pair.
As for the cheeses, those really enhance and alter the taste of the wines and it was fun experimenting and sampling them with the different wines.
During our tasting, we sat in kingly comfort, surrounded by lavish, yet relaxed interiors, as vibey music and a chilled atmosphere prevailed… this was made all the better by the duo of quacking ducks who decided to amble inside! For me, this added a real sense of farm life, even with all the opulence and beauty of the tasting room interiors…
The five wine tasting is great value-for-money and will really tempt you into leaving with a bottle or two… Which is handy because for every R150 spent, the tasting charge of R80 will be reimbursed.
Overall, this is certainly one of the most enjoyable and excellent wine tastings – made more impressive by Stephen and his efficient, expert team – I have enjoyed in recent years.
I don’t know what winemaker Johann Fourie’s secrets are (perhaps passion and wine expertise are enough, mind)… but whatever he and Benguela Cove Lagoon Wine Estate are doing with their wines – I hope they never stop because they possess some seriously faultless wines, through and through!
An inspirational wine farm… owned by an inspirational woman
To sum it up, Benguela Cove Lagoon Wine Estate is not only one of the most recognisable and popular estates in the Walker Bay and Overberg Region, but it also happens to be the genius of a most phenomenal, go-getting businesswoman: Zimbabwean-born, British-South African entrepreneur, Penny Streeter.
Over the years, since the estate was first developed in 2003, with a mind for creating a vineyard, lifestyle estate (with olive groves to boot), this inspirational lady has built up a truly marvellous estate – which has even bigger and better plans for the coming years.
The excitement and bright future is real and tangible at Benguela Cove – and maybe this is the kind of venture that South Africa (and the world) needs in 2018, particularly as, more than ever, we look to women for future greatness, quick-thinking innovation and inspired womanly strength.
The estate in closing
Overall, Benguela Cove Wine Estate is a treasure trove of experiences, excellent wines and world-class staff. It is a place where everything, from the setting to the estate offerings, are sublime.
In closing, I would like to impart a few notable facts about Benguela Cove Lagoon Wine Estate:
- Penny Streeter is the sole owner of this magnificent estate.
- The estate is, as far as possible, hugely wheel-chair and child-friendly, an aspect that definitely sets it apart in a big way.
- The estate is in the process of a re-launch, and hopes to complete its expansions by 2020.
- The estate is, among its other expansions, in the process of adding a picnic and lawn space and epic jungle gym – and let’s not forget that they already have superb courtyard and marquee spaces, perfect for both weddings and functions!
- During your birthday month, provided you bring your ID along as proof, you can enjoy a free wine tasting for two.
- After Fryer’s Cove, Benguela Cove is the second lowest farm in South Africa to the ocean.
Honestly, our experience of Benguela Cove Lagoon Wine Estate could not have been more magical… and although we didn’t even enjoy everything the estate has to offer (like the cellar tour and other delicious tastings), the things we did experience will certainly stay in my heart and mind for many years to come…
Photo credit: @jakkalsfontein
Thank you to everyone involved at Benguela Cove Lagoon Wine Estate for giving us a day filled with precious memories and wonderful experiences at your most beautiful wine estate. In particular, I must thank our excellent host, Stephen Moller and Nicola Naidoo for making this possible.
Overall, in terms of setting, experiences, wines, and professionalism, Benguela Cove Lagoon Wine Estate can only be awarded a stellar 10/10 rating. I honestly cannot fault it based on my experience.
For more information on Benguela Cove Lagoon Wine Estate and their wines and estate experiences, please contact: +27 (021) 944 1041 (wine sales), (083) 645 6198 (cellar door) or head office on +27 (021) 944 1041. You can also email them on email@example.com or visit their website for more information.
Benguela Cove Lagoon Wine Estate can be found along the R43, Bot River Lagoon, Hermanus, 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.