• Kim Rabe

The Baroness of Philadelphia

August's Off the beaten track tour took us 31 km out of Cape Town, along the N7 towards Philadelphia, which is now it's very own wine region. I chose to visit just the one farm on this tour, Capaia Wines whose vineyards stand isolated among the neighboring fields of wheat and Canola. From the N7 take exit 31, turn right under the bridge and left at the T- junction and then follow the markers for another 6 km along a dusty and rather bumpy dirt road. This farm certainly is off the beaten track and today we will taste their wine and dine at the onsite restaurant Mariella's.

Capaia wine estate is owned by Baroness Ingrid von Essen, who after falling in love with Africa and this pocket of land in Philadelphia, established her vineyards in what was previously the De Hoop wheat farm. She also restored the old Victorian farmhouse and converted it into the restaurant which is run by executive chef Mark Hartlief.

During the week you can visit the cellar for a tour and tasting. The cellar is beautiful and houses one of the world’s largest collections of oak fermentors- well worth the visit. The first wine to taste is the Sauvignon Blanc; followed by the Capaia Merlot-Cabernet Savignon and then their flagship ONE, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. The Mariella is their newest wine, named after the baronesses’ daughter; this too is a blend of Cab, Merlot, Cab Franc and Petit Verdot and a splash of Shiraz. Fabulous red’s to compliment this wintry August afternoon.

Mariella's restaurant offers cozy indoor seating next to the fireplace or outdoor tables on the deck, where one can take in the spectacular views of the Swartland. The wind was a bit nippy so we opted to sit indoors this time but in summer this will be a great spot to be outdoors and also very kid friendly.

Mariella’s wine list is extremely reasonable, offering both Capaia wines and several other well known estates at a very small mark up. They also include a decent by the glass offering, which is always a pleasant surprise when you’re accustomed to Cape Town choices and prices. The menu offers a bit of everything from ostrich fillet, beef sirloin, roast duck, grilled lamb and line fish but at our table it was very much the pork belly that was the hero of the day!

Service is a little on the slow side but if you have traveled all the way up the dusty road to get there, you shouldn't be in any rush to get anywhere else. Order a few starters to share, we tried the goats cheese and aubergine starter which was delicious and drink a few bottles of wine. When the food does arrive it is well worth the wait. Conclusion we all think the Baroness has done a great job, Prost!

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