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Picnic Review: Idyllic Picnics in the Veggie Garden at De Meye

For the past few years, ever since I heard about their magical lunches at The Table at De Meye, I have been dying to visit De Meye Estate. Fortunately, my opportunity came at last and at the perfect time.

After a difficult year, my friend and travel companion, Alicia and I decided to end the year off with one final adventure.

As we are both cautious during the pandemic, we decided the best option would be something outdoorsy. So a picnic in the winelands seemed like the perfect idea. (Especially as picnics are naturally socially distanced with plenty of fresh air and sunlight around you.)

And what better adventure than the new picnics at De Meye?

Picnics at De Meye: Stepping into Paradise

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We looked over a few options – the Cape Winelands does, after all, have almost endless estates offering picnics, each as tempting as the last – before I stumbled across the newly launched picnics at De Meye.

The beauty of this estate and its reputation for consistently good, relaxed dining precedes it.

And after seeing the picnic setup and sample menu online, we had no doubt that we were in for a stunning picnic in Muldersvlei, outside Stellenbosch.

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I think it was love at first sight for us both in all respects. So the only thing left to do was book our picnic date!

Leaving nothing to chance, especially as spots are limited, we booked almost two weeks in advance and counted down the days with impatient, barely suppressed excitement.

Delightful De Meye: A Hidden Gem in the Stellenbosch Winelands

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De Meye Wines is a family-owned estate that produces a nice selection of wines and lavender oil, thanks to its fields of lavender. (It was actually one of the first wine farms in South Africa to produce organic lavender oil).

While The Table at De Meye is independently owned and run by chef couple, Brendan Thorncroft and Leigh Williamson. They recently took the eatery over – and it has been thriving ever since.

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In addition to the charming seasonal lunches offered by The Table, guests can also enjoy estate wine tastings and cheese platters. These can be savoured outside near the charming chateau-esque tasting room.

Now, along with their highly sought-after lunches, The Table at De Meye has started offering dreamy picnics in De Meye’s abundant vegetable garden.

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Gorgeous food and wine aside, De Meye also doubles as a stunning wedding and conference venue.

With an old dairy shed restored to a modern-meets-rustic state, they can host a range of different events and functions. With the capacity to accommodate up to 120 guests at a pop.

While for smaller, more intimate occasions, guests can also hire the Garden Cottage.

For more information on hosting your event or conference at De Meye, please contact Margot at events@demeye.co.za.

Drinking Deeply from De Meye’s Cup of Beauty

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Whether for a soothing luncheon in the Winelands or a special wedding, De Meye’s natural beauty is almost astounding.

I have grown up on Cape farms and visited a plethora of local wine estates over the years. Yet very few have been this exquisitely, naturally beautiful without even trying.

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De Meye’s charm lies in the way it relies on its well-maintained, yet somehow earthy, white-washed buildings, secluded location and peaceful flower beds, lined by lawns, oaks and vineyards as far as the eye can see.

Add to that the hidden wonder of a tumbled, fairytale tower or the enchanting mystery of the veggie garden and paradise is assuredly found.

Recharge, Restore and Revive Your Soul at De Meye

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Photo credit: Alicia Chamaillรฉ

What most appeals to me is that De Meye holds no airs and graces. It knows it’s incredible and it doesn’t need to convince anyone of its beauty. There is no flash or pomp and ceremony here. Only quality service, delightful offerings and a truly gorgeous, down-to-earth wine farm.

I think that’s what makes this wine farm so alluring: it’s a simple working farm and wine estate. Yet it looks like something straight off the cover of House & Garden.

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De Meye is a haven for young and old to recharge, restore and revive their spirits, all while relaxing in the most glorious of natural Cape surroundings.

When you’re at De Meye, your cares melt away. You remember how to live simply and breathe deeply once again.

Savouring Summertime Gladness at De Meye Vineyards

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On the day of our early December picnic, luck favoured us and we enjoyed the most glorious summer weather. In fact, it was so warm out that we were actually worried about the heat.

Thankfully, one of many beautiful things about De Meye is its sprawling oaks and other trees that provide generous pools of shade.

We arrived early, wanting to explore the estate a bit. From the moment we got out of my car, our cameras started clicking furiously. Even as we drank deeply from the overflowing cup of beauty that De Meye so effortlessly extends to its visitors.

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We were greeted almost immediately with warmth and a mask-covered smile by one of the friendly staff members, who politely asked if she could sanitise and take our temperatures.

I like how thorough this was, especially as the Western Cape infection rate was steadily climbing again. It made me feel instantly at ease and impressed with the estate and restaurant.

Once done, she kindly pointed out the picnic area to us. It is set somewhat apart from the main Table at De Meye lunch tables, wine tasting area and general outbuildings.

Alice Stumbles into Wonderland in the Winelands

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After a short walk past daintily adorned tables and lush vineyards, we took the corner and had our breath stolen from us by a wave of purple flowers and a romantic-looking, gently forlorn tower, awash with intertwining cerise and orange bougainvillea.

To your right is the main picnic collection point and venue hall, while to the left, past the tower, lies the veggie garden and lawn area, where The Table at De Meye’s picnic spots are set up.

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To keep things intimate and safe – there are only five picnic spots every Friday to Sunday. Picnics are also limited to 2-8 guests per picnic spot. That way, you are assured the best possible distancing and a more individual experience.

Upon arrival at the picnic collection point, guests are informed that they can notify the team when they are ready for their picnic basket. Once your basket is packed, you collect and carry it to your picnic spot yourself.

That way, there is minimal contact and everyone stays safe. It also means that you are unrushed if, like us, you wish to explore the gardens before your veritable food coma sets in.

Picnics in the Veggie Patch at De Meye

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As previously mentioned, De Meye’s picnics are limited to five picnic spots each day. What’s more, guests have a choice between the standard picnic option or a vegetarian option.

Either way, both options are fresh and seasonally-inspired – but you will need to request the vegetarian option in advance.

Picnics are priced at R300 per adult – so R600 for two sharing. For kids, it is R150 per child for the kiddies’ picnic basket.

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De Meye’s picnics can be booked online here through Dineplan (always convenient), with full payment required to confirm your booking.

Picnics exclude drinks but they offer a lovely Drinks Menu (please see here). On it, you will find everything from coffee to wine and non-alcoholic Duchess gin or fresh juices, that you can order with your picnic.

Drinks can be bought directly from the picnic collection point when you retrieve your basket. If you like, you can also have an ice bucket – perfect for keeping things cool in those sizzling temperatures. (There is also a tip jar here if you wish to thank staff. They do have to prep and clear away your picnic afterwards. ๐Ÿ™‚ )

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Each picnic spot is spread far apart. So much so, in fact, that you barely see or hear another human. Particularly when you sit in your own private corner of the garden, away from the main lunch area.

De Meye’s Stunning Picnic Setup

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Guests get directed to their spot from the collection point so it’s best to report there upon arrival.

Some of the spots include a shaded canopy of trees, a vine-covered bower or a cutesy, old-fashioned umbrella – coquettish Marie Antoinette-style… So wherever you sit, you are assured shade and comfort in some shape and form.

The setup at each picnic spot also seems to vary slightly, making them feel more personal.

Some, like ours, have a neat wooden table and twin chairs, with comfy cushion-seats, a wicker basket and patchwork blanket spread out on the ground for your reclining pleasure.

While others still come with little chairs or a dreamy umbrella dotted around your private garden space.

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To me, this is a wonderful part of De Meye’s picnics offerings. Some estates require you to pay extra for blankets, cushions or umbrellas – or alternatively, to bring along your own – so I hope they never change this.

It’s a boon to arrive at your picnic spot and find everything set out in anticipation for your arrival. Personally, I feel every paid-for picnic should be like this… After all, it’s part of the magic!

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Whichever picnic spot you are allotted, just know that each offers a tranquil, beautiful setting around the veggie garden and lawn.

Nearby, there is also a pretty dam so it really is a dreamy location for summertime picnics!

Collect Your Basket and Let the Feasting Begin!

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After a short while of admiring our adorable picnic spot in the veggie garden and relaxing companionably under our sweet, natural bower, we were ready for the feasting to begin.

My friend collected the light, soft basket from the picnic hall and we settled down with chilled still water and a basket brimming with quite eco-friendly containers.

Don’t let the big basket deceive you – it might be cavernous, with only a small stack of food containers. Trust me though, these picnics are extremely generous and filling.

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As the picnic menus are based on the most seasonal, local and organic produce possible, they may vary. Still, the sample picnic menu gives a nice idea of what’s in store. (You can view the sample picnic menu here.)

Each picnic includes a starter – usually a mix of delectable cheeses, delicious, crisp sourdough bread, cold meats (or extra cheese, if you opt for the veggie picnic), preserves and pickled goodies. A selection of three, fresh and flavourful main dishes – and finally, a dessert treat to end things off on a sweet note!

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Although our picnic came with a glassware and crockery setting, with a napkin, knife and fork, we only really used our wine glass and plate in the end.

I mostly ate mine straight out of the little cardboard bowl once we had divided up our dishes amongst ourselves.

Each dish offers more than enough to both satisfy your hunger and provide a nice introduction to the dish, without being overly filling.

As a whole, this picnic is definitely filling and a really great, value-for-money offering.

What We Found in Our Basket

After neatly spreading our picnic out on the quilt blanket and thick, wooden serving board, it was time to discover just what our picnic contained.

My friend opted for the vegetarian picnic and I for the standard. Happily though, the picnic is already pretty vegetarian-friendly so only the cold meats with mine and my first main differed. The rest, we both easily shared.

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Note: When booking, just keep in mind that the menu is subject to change and is based off of seasonal availability.

Please also remember to disclose any food allergies or intolerances when you make your booking. (For example, when we booked ours, I just requested a vegetarian and standard picnic in the comments section and the team did the rest.)

My Picnic Breakdown:

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    • For me, my standard main was smoked free-range chicken, homemade curry aioli, barley and brown butter sultanas. My friend’s was carrot-based (instead of with smoked chicken) but otherwise, almost identical and she also loved it. This was so refreshing, delicious and satisfying so 9/10 rating for me.

 

    • Next, we shared a type of peppery, fennel slaw salad. This was pungent and fresh but admittedly, my least favourite so I only rated it 4/10. But that is my personal preference because it was still a quality salad.

      sourdough-bread-slaw-salad

 

    • In between, as a kind of palate cleanser, we tried the delicious, soft, yet crunchy sourdough bread. This was absolutely divine and perfectly paired with the sweet preserve. (But I loved it even on its own too.) It was an easy 9/10 with or without the equally delicious preserve.

 

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    • Next, we divided up the fresh green bean and pickled onion salad, complete with a lovely creamy mayo-type sauce. I found this lovely and the flavours worked beautifully together; the perfect salad for summertime. It’s an 8/10 rating for me.

      green-bean-pickled-onion-salad

 

    • In between more delicious slices of bread, we ended off our main dishes with the last salad, which was primarily tomato and feta on a bed of fresh lettuce leaves. This was honestly one of the most refreshing, delicious salads I have ever had so it’s a definite 10/10 rating.

      tomato-feta-salad

 

  • We finished off with our separate cheese bowls. Mine had the most glorious salami, another lovely beef cold meat and the best, goosiest Dalewood camembert and another nice soft cheese. This whole mix was divine and I nibbled away contentedly. It is a sure 10/10 rating because everything in this bowl was perfect.

    cheese-meat-picnic-bowl

We enjoyed our cheese with the fresh bread and great, little pickled gherkins and smoked green- and purple-olives we had. These little bottles were all great, including the preserve, and not too brine-y so I really enjoyed them more than usual.

Finally, as a sweet treat, we received deliciously fresh, summery berry sorbet in a sugar cone. This went down very well! The sorbet was fresh and flavourful, so I rate it at 7/10.

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How It Rated

Overall, this was one of healthiest, most well-rounded winelands’ picnic spreads I have had to date. I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish.

The picnic is perfect for two sharing. Although not essential, it is best enjoyed with a nice chilled drink of your choice.

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I can easily rate my overall picnic at De Meye as 9.5/10. I honestly cannot really fault anything in our picnic basket (apart from the one salad that I just didn’t enjoy personally).

What’s more, our overall experience of both the picnic and De Meye (in general) was superb. I think this picnic has also cemented itself as my all-time favourite Winelands’ picnic thus far.

The stunning, peaceful setting, good service and safety protocols made this such a memorable day trip.

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It isn’t often in life that we have truly perfect days… but once every now and then, life gives us one – even in a hard year.

And at De Meye, we enjoyed a perfect day in every possible sense…

A Word of Thanks in Closing

Although this was an experience we happily paid for ourselves so it was in no way sponsored, I would like to extend my thanks to all concerned for such a glorious picnic offering.

I have no doubt that anyone who visits for this picnic will have an equally amazing experience.

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So I can strongly recommend booking a picnic (or lunch) at De Meye… this is a must-try picnic experience for friends, couples or families to enjoy together.

It is quiet, peaceful and healing, with little more than birdsong to disrupt your contented conversation and lazy lounging. After your picnic, take a stroll about the estate and admire its effortless natural beauty.

In fact, if you are looking to propose or celebrate a special milestone, such as a birthday or kitchen tea.. You couldn’t really ask for a better setting or experience in the Stellenbosch Wine Route.

Contact Information

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The Table at De Meye is open from Thursdays through to Sunday for lunches. The Table at De Meye is closed on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Picnics at De Meye are only available Friday to Sunday. Picnic spots are limited so please book in advance to avoid disappointment. Booking is essential and payment must be made in full before your picnic will be confirmed.

Picnics can be collected between 12:00 pm – 14:00 pm.ย  However, you are welcome to stay in the vegetable garden until 17:00 pm afterwards.

For more information on The Table at De Meye lunches, platters or picnic offerings, please contact: +27 (072) 696 0530 or email them at: bookings@thetablerestaurant.co.za.

You can also visit their website and follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

For more information on De Meye Estate or for farm enquiries, please contact: +27 (083) 302 8840 or email them at: info@demeye.co.za or visit their website.

Or you can visit them at De Meye Farm, Muldersvlei Road, corner of Old Paarl Road (R101), Stellenbosch Winelands, Western Cape, South Africa.

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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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