The stunning vineyards of the Western Cape, which encircle Cape Town like a boxing glove, are among the hottest gourmet destinations of 2014.
Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschhoek are notable not only for their dramatically-sited wine estates – many of them dotted with traditional Cape Dutch buildings – but also for the many luxury lodges and resorts to be found in and around the vines.
Throw in world-rated restaurants and you have a wine destination to match Bordeaux, Tuscany or the Napa Valley – and the strength of the Australian dollar (and the woes of the rand) means five-star luxury can often be enjoyed for three-star prices.
One of the finest places to stay, for those for whom budget is a minor consideration, is the Owners' Cottage at Grande Provence Heritage Wine Estate.
Members of the British Royal Family and Hollywood movie stars have stayed in the Owner’s Cottage at this exclusive retreat, which is under the same ownership as luxury icons Huka Lodge in New Zealand and Fiji’s Dolphin Island.
With five bedrooms (and two full-time staff members), it is perfect for family groups or anyone seeking privacy and seclusion just a couple of minutes from the famous wine village of Franschhoek.
The estate is over 300-years-old, built in the traditional Cape Dutch style and surrounded by 47-acres of grape vines.
Sophisticated, but relaxed, Grande Provence is also home to a high-end cellar door with beautifully mannered staff that offers food and wine matchings; a top-notch eatery in The Restaurant (chef Darren Badenhorst's French-accented food is outstanding) as well as a beautiful sculpture garden and a word-class art gallery featuring works by some of South Africa’s finest artists. Regular exhibitions are held with the major disciplines being rotated throughout the year.
The Owner's Cottage is one of those places where it would be easy spend two or three days just enjoying the surrounds. That, however, would be a pity with so many beautiful wine estates and restaurants within just a few minutes' drive. Should you fancy dining among the vines, individual private dining venues can be arranged anywhere within the estate on request.
The accommodation comprises four luxury bedrooms, a deluxe suite, conservatory, lounge, deck, swimming and spa pool area. Staff will do as much, or as little, as you request. A spectacular breakfast, with complimentary newspapers as well as a three-course dinner, is included within the all-inclusive tariff, which also includes Grande Provence wines, spirits and soft drinks, along with free wi-fi.
Live the millionaire lifestyle for a day or two; maybe request a masseuse or private yoga session in the plush gardens.
Or if you want to spend a day or two exploring further afield, your staff will be happy to set up winelands tours, township tours, a wine and game drive tour, or perhaps a round of golf or a powerboat excursion. The world is your oyster.
Grande Provence, Main Road, Franschhoek, South Africa. +27 21 876 8600. www.grandeprovence.co.za.