hazendal-experiences

Hazendal Experiences: From Russia with Love

Situated along Bottelary Road, Hazendal Wine Estate is well worth discovering. Since its recent revamp, it has flourished, drawing in the masses. Hazendal experiences are exciting and varied, meaning that this fine estate offers something for everyone to enjoy.

Hazendal Wine Estate is perfectly positioned to host groups, families and tourists… And it offers so much for its visitors. Everything from incredible Russian tea offerings to the slick Avant-Garde Restaurant and Wonderdal.

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Established in 1699, Hazendal – which translates to ‘valley of the hares’ – has endured three centuries’ worth of history and winemaking.

In 1994, it was bought by Russian-born Dr Mark Voloshin. For the past 25 years, Dr Voloshin has successfully brought his own creativity and pioneering nature to Hazendal, while also preserving its rich past.

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Hazendal Re-imagined

Hazendal now offers visitors a treasure trove of exciting experiences… But some of the stand-outs include the Russian Tea Garden and Ceremony (which was what we visited for) and the incredible Wonderdal, an imagination-inspiring, educational wonderland for children.

Photo credit: Alicia Chamaillé

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Add to that Avant-Garde Restaurant (fronted by the hugely talented Michelle Theron), Babushka Deli (a more relaxed offering, which offers both food and gifts), Babushka picnics, Marvol Gallery, the Family MTB Bike, the Wine Lounge and striking wedding and corporate venues… and the magic is complete.

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I have visited many ‘revamped’ estates – and while I cannot say what Hazendal was like before this, the result of this revamp is incredible.

Hazendal Wine Estate is, to all intents and purposes, spellbinding without trying.

Hazendal Wine Estate Experiences

For children, Hazendal is a dream… For a start, there’s Wonderdal – a modern and captivating place, where their imaginations and learning need know no limits.

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Then, we have the Family MTB Bike Park. This is suitable for all riders and comes equipped with its own play area. Additionally, with catering from Babushka Deli, parents can host childrens’ parties here, ensuring a memorable celebration.

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There is also the Deli and picnics, which I feel are both extremely family friendly, and vast expanses of gently sloping lawn hills…

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This estate feels freeing and open. It is also a place where loved ones can enjoy an exceptional time together. And, with the added beauty of gorgeous Cape Dutch architecture, Russian flair and beautiful spaces, Hazendal is truly unique.

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Catch up over coffee, enthrall your young minds or simply take yourself back to nature… because Hazendal’s experiences are rich and fun for all!

From Russia with Love: Hazendal Russian Tea Ceremony

The Russian tea garden and ceremony experience is arguably one of the special things I have enjoyed across the Cape Winelands. Wholly unique, it offers the most incredible insights into Russian culture and hospitality.

I never knew tea was such a well-loved custom in Russia till now… But after this experience, I can say with confidence: the Russians do tea just as well as the English!

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This tea love affair dates back to 1638, after Tsar Michael Feodorovich was given a diplomatic gift: four chests of tea from Altyum-Khan of Mongolia… Thereafter, caravans loaded with tea would frequently travel “from the Great Wall of China to the walls of the Moscow Kremlin”.

Traditionally, the Russian tea ceremony is a social gathering that can last for many blissful hours. It can encompass conversation, banter or even business deals… At Hazendal though, it is a new and fascinating approach to tea, as you learn about Russian culture and delicacies.

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Hazendal Wine Estate’s Russian Tea Ceremony

The main table – adorned with authentic Dulevo porcelain (this is beyond beautiful) and fancy Samovars  (Russian heating containers, introduced by Tsar Peter the Great) – makes for an eye-catching centrepiece.

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Each Samovar has a little teapot balanced atop it. These teapots are filled with tea concentrate called Zavarka. And Hazendal’s Tsar Tea Blend resembles a traditionally smoky tea called ‘caravan tea’. (This came about when Russian travellers began trading tea with China and India… Smoke from the caravan fires would gently infuse the tea leaves, creating natural, smoky undertones.)

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Each table has its own Samovar setup, which is strung with Baranki. Essentially, Baranki is an edible necklace of round, well, ‘bread snacks’, as I called them.

Made from flour, butter, eggs and vanilla, these taste like scones crossed with shortbread, just slightly more savoury. They are divine – and I think for the first few minutes of our tea, my friend and I were just sitting there munching baranki (which you carefully break off) and sipping our black Russian tea.

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These are certainly one of the most uniquely Russian aspects of the tea you will find… but wait, there’s more! In lieu of sugar, you add Varenye, or jam, to your tea.

This helps to sweeten your Russian Black Tea (sourced from the excellent tea house of TWG; you can also choose from other TWG options when visiting).

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The jam gives a kind of fruity aftertaste but if you feel your tea is still a bit strong, you can release some hot water from your Samovar.

Each of the teapots gives about two cups of tea per person… but I think in the end we each had about six.

Russian Tea Options: Standard Meat, Gluten-Free and Vegetarian

One thing I really love about Hazendal’s tea offering is that guests can choose between standard (meat), vegetarian or gluten-free options without paying extra. Happily, there is also a kids’ tea option, priced at R150 per child.

Normally, gluten-free options cost double the price. So, even though I am meant to avoid gluten like the plague, I usually just go with the standard option and suffer afterwards.

But here, the set price for the tea experience is R250 per person. I really must commend and thank Hazendal and its culinary team for their forethought towards different dietary needs!

I also love that they carefully kept my gluten-free baranki well separate from my friend’s gluten ones.

And honestly, both the vegetarian (which my friend opted for) and gluten-free spreads look and taste amazing. It’s also nice to see the difference in each option’s menu. The slight differences make them quite unique so I am tempted to return and try the vegetarian option someday.

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Pictured: Vegetarian option

While we each tried different tea options, some of the items closely match and we were able to rate each quite similarly. For both options, presentation and plating was gorgeous and oh-so-tasteful!

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Pictured: Gluten-free option

I found the tea offering generous (particularly with the added baranki). You walk away feeling satisfied but not uncomfortable or stuffed. It’s perfectly balanced for a delicious, filling dining experience – especially with the cups of tea!

Three elements that further enhance your tea experience are: the garden’s sheltered corner, with its sprawling overhead branches; the delicate porcelain cups and saucers; and best of all, the traditional Russian music, which swirls evocatively through the air.

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My imagination beckoned to me, making it feel like, for a time, we left the Cape Winelands behind for some quiet corner of Russia…

Need-To-Know Info on Hazendal’s Russian Tea Ceremony

The tea ceremony, while strongly influenced by Russian traditions, is conducted in English. But the staff, who were all impeccable with their service and professionalism, do weave interesting facts and stories into this experience so you learn what I covered above – and more besides.

Hazendal’s Russian Tea Ceremony is a strictly pre-booked affair, meaning bookings are essential. Bookings must be made at least 24 hours beforehand – and to secure your booking, you will need to make a deposit.

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Photo credit: Alicia Chamaillé

If you haven’t booked, don’t worry – you can still enjoy the Garden Menu in the beautifully tranquil garden space.

The Russian Tea Garden and Tea Ceremony can be enjoyed by guests every Tuesday to Sunday, from 10:00 am – 17:00 pm (with last orders due by 16:00 pm at the latest.)

To book for the Russian Tea Ceremony, contact Hazendal on: +27 (021) 205 5620 or bookings@hazendal.co.za. For menu information or to book online, please see here.

Hazendal Tea Spread: Gluten-Free Option

For my gluten-free option, I enjoyed the following Russian delicacies with my tea:

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Pictured: Gluten-free tea option
  • Baranki: previously mentioned Russian baked delights hung on the Samovar; (I loved these so much; it’s a 10/10 from me!)
  • Blini: salmon trout, sour cream, pickled onion, lemon pearls; (I absolutely loved this too; a 9/10 rating with ease.)
  • Braised beef brisket and black lentil gluten-free Piroshok, Russian
    pastry; (This pastry was nice, it was really thick but not dense or heavy; the filling had a good, roast beef-type flavour thanks to the beef brisket. This food item was good but overall, my least favourite on my plate so 6/10 rating.)
  • Russian Olivier potato salad; (This was nice and refreshingly tasty. However, it doesn’t explode with flavour, so I rate it 7/10.)
  • Blinchik – Russian crêpe – filled with mushrooms, cream cheese and
    mixed herbs; (This has a deliciously herb, soft flavour and we both really liked it; 8/10 rating.)
  • Gluten-free Medovik – Russian honey layered cake – with burnt honey cream and walnuts; (This honey cake was really good; almost biscuit-y and not too rich; 9/10 rating.)
  • Sharlokta – Russian apple cake, dark chocolate, apple and whipped
    vanilla cream cheese; (This round apple cake is lovely but I found the sponge a bit dry so it’s a 7/10 rating.)
  • Pryanik, a Russian gingerbread cookie; (This has a definite Christmas feel about it… The gingerbread cookie is so good, delicate and perfectly flavoured without the ginger being too overpowering; 8/10 rating.)
  • Russian cream with Kompot, homemade red berry juice. (Topped with delicious mini meringues (these are divine)… This was nice and refreshing but I was not a fan of the homemade berry juice… I did, however, love the Russian cream in this little jar dessert; 7/10 overall but 9/10 for the little meringues,) 
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Photo credit: Alicia Chamaillé

How The Tea Ceremony Rated Overall

I found the whole tea ceremony and tea experience at Hazendal to be relaxing, far from pretentious and overly formal (as I initially feared) – and overall, incredibly beautiful and educational from a culture and global cuisine perspective. The entire occasion – and booking process – was slickly run, professional and great.

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I really can’t fault anything… The setting is lovely and soothing; the food and presentation, along with the gorgeous tea spread on each table, is stunning and the service is truly excellent, with some of the most impressively polite and professional staff I have encountered.

I can recommend this tea experience to anyone because it is well-priced, enchanting and memorable. In fact, I would say do it just for the Russian experience – that in itself is worth the price!

Hazendal has a standard of quality that I believe is felt right across the estate, in everything from its beautifully packaged wines to its Babuska Deli gifts to the food, atmosphere and experiences you can enjoy here.

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A Word of Thanks

In closing, I would like to thank my dear friend (and former colleague),Alicia Chamaillé, who shared this experience with me. And who also kindly organised it for us; it was such a treat for me not to have to plan and book! Her excellent companionship, flowing conversation and beautiful photos certainly enhanced everything on the day! 🙂

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For more information on Hazendal Wine Estate and its experiences, please contact: +27 (021) 903 5034 or email them at: reception@hazendal.co.za.

You can also visit their website or find them for yourself at Hazendal Wine Estate, Bottelary Road, Stellenbosch, Western Cape, South Africa.

Hazendal is also on at least two leading social media platforms, so be sure to connect with and follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

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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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