If there’s one thing I’m terrible at, it’s saying no to a wine tasting.
As a Joburg import living in Cape Town, I’ve taken to the Mother City’s wine culture like a fish to water.
In fact, I’m pretty certain I crawled out of the womb with a wine glass in one hand and a bottle of sauvignon blanc in the womb.
And my love affair with vino is more apparent when I travel and stay in a hotel like Jan Harmsgat Country House that caters to my obsession.
Located on a historic working vineyard established in 1723, you can sip your way through the JHG Wines selection and feast on delicious French cuisine.
As a foodie in South Africa’s wine country, what more could you ask for?
If this sounds like your idea of a weekend escape from Cape Town (or a pit stop en-route to the Garden Route), here’s my review of Jan Harmsgat Country House!
HOW TO GET TO JAN HARMSGAT COUNTRY HOUSE
Jan Harmsgat is one of those picture-perfect road trip destinations. Only 2-hours from Cape Town on the R60 highway, you can stop here for a weekend getaway or on your way to the Garden Route.
If you’re travelling from elsewhere in South Africa, fly into Cape Town International Airport (CPT), hire a car and drive through. The road there is stunning, and once you leave the city, rolling green hills and vineyards are all you can see.
THE ROOM OPTIONS
Only two years shy of turning 300-years old, Jan Harmsgat is where luxury and old-world charm meet.
The country house offers ten exclusive rooms. Choose from double, twin, family or the tres romantique honeymoon suite.
I had the pleasure of staying in room one. Located in a Cape Dutch style building (and once slave quarters), it comes with a private outside deck area, an en-suite bathroom, and is steps away from the stunning salt-water pool.
With an entire jar of bath salts and tea candles, it was the ultimate way to unwind after a day of wine tasting and an encounter with the farm’s resident wildebeest (more on that below).
The room has everything you need, including a sitting area for your morning coffee routine and a table if you need to hop onto your laptop and fire off some emails.
If you’re looking for an upgrade, check out the executive and superior. Each one comes with a claw-foot bath and is decked out with Jan Harmsgat’s signature historical (yet luxurious) charm.
- King-sized bed
- En-suite bathroom with a shower and tub (bathsalts & candles included)
- Tea and coffee facilities
- Underfloor heating
- Free Wi-Fi
- Hairdryer in each room
- Complimentary toiletries
THE FRENCH CUISINE AT JUST AMY
One of the best (and delicious) things about staying at Jan Harmsgat is the food.
Just Amy is a fine-dining farm-to-table French restaurant where you can grab your complimentary breakfast and stop by for lunch and dinner.
Chef Josh and his wife Christelle whip up an unforgettable experience, and each meal is expertly paired with a JHC wine.
The Sauvigon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon.
The menu is full of options for omnivores. Expect dishes like seared salmon steaks fillet of beef and grilled sole.
For vegetarians and vegans, your choices are limited. There was only one option on the lunch and dinner menus during my stay, and it was the same dish (a vegetarian lasagne).
This is unfortunate as I wasn’t able to try different menu items during my two-night stay.
However, the food I did try was incredible!
For dessert? Don’t miss the pecan pie. It’s Jan Harmsgat speciality with the nuts grown on the farm and is topped with homemade ice cream.
And I’m not just saying the food was good. Just Amy has the awards to back it up. The restaurant won “Most Memorable Dining Experience in the Western Cape” at the 2021 Restaurant and Bar Awards.
Tip: If you have any dietary requirements, please let Jan Harmsgat know in advance. The chef can tweak the menu to meet your needs.
WHAT TO DO IN SWELLENDAM
4X4 Safari Wine Tasting
Safari and wine tasting??
Yup. You read that right.
A unique activity on Jan Harmsgat is the option to jump into a safari vehicle for a tour of the 680-hectare vineyards and ending it with a sunset wine tasting.
Along the way, you might spot wildebeest grazing in the distance.
At the sundowners spot, your guide will set up an array of white and red wines to sample with an assortment of delicious treats.
Spend a Few Hours at the Spa
Got a knot you can’t get out?
Head on over to the on-site spa at Jan Harmsgat. Indulge in a range of massage options and other full-body treatments for an hour or two.
Some of the items on the spa menu include:
- Full body scrub and massage
- Back, neck and shoulder massage
- Mardouw deep tissue massage
Bontebok National Park
Only 25-minutes from Jan Harmsgat, Bontebok National Park is a haven for nature nerds like myself.
Come here for a day of hiking, and spot an abundance of flora and wildlife like bontebok, zebra, and Stanley’s Bustard. If you’re not much a hiker, the park does have mountain biking trails.
JAN HARMSGAT COUNTRY HOUSE: FINAL THOUGHTS
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For wine lovers, foodies, and fellow Tauruses, Jan Harmsgat is the perfect affordable luxe weekend getaway from Cape Town.
Indulge in delicious French cuisine, sip your way through the vintages, and unwind in your glorious claw foot bath after a day of exploring.
What else do you need? 💆♀️
Thank you to Jan Harmsgat and Hot Oven Marketing for inviting me to stay. As usual, all opinions are my own.