Franschhoek, South Africa
Wines from the true gardens of Babylon
Against the backdrop of the Simonsberg, Du Toitskloof and Franschhoek mountains, Babylonstoren spans across hectares of orchards, wheat fields and vineyards. With an impressive garden at its epicentre, the estate is a glorious work of architectural and landscape restoration and research. Former magazine editor Karen Roos, Babylonstoren current owner, has brought the estate into the 21st century by restoring its original 17th century glory, both as a centre of hospitality excellence and as a working farm.
Location: Franschhoek, South Africa
Working with us since: 2020
Viticultural standards: Integrity and Sustainability Certified (South Africa Wine and Spirits Board)
Our pick of the best wine from this producer: Oaked Chardonnay
Interesting fact: The formal garden at the centre of Babylonstoren is laid out over 3,5 hectares divided into 15 sections that comprise fruit, vegetables, berries, bees for pollinating, indigenous plants, fragrant lawns, a prickly pear maze, ducks and chickens, and more. It includes over 300 species, some of them of botanical historical importance.
Pieter van der Byl planted the first vineyards in Babylonstoren, in 1692, after the Governor of the cape granted him the estate. Some of the original farming structures erected by van der Byl in the 17th century remain on the estate and are some of the best preserved examples of colonial farming architecture. These include the iconic Cape Dutch werf (farmyard), Koornhuis (a wheat barn) and an old cellar.
The last decade has been decisive in redefining Babylonstoren’s ethos and brand; under the ownership of Karen Roos, the estate has undergone extensive restoration and the development of an exclusive hospitality concept that includes two restaurants, a boutique hotel, a farm shop, a bakery and a spa. Key to the project is that Babylonstoren thrives as productive land under sustainable farming. As a working farm, Babylonstoren’s acreage is divided between fruit orchards, vineyards, wheat fields and even a rice paddy.
The estate’s epicentre is the formal fruit & vegetable garden, that is not only a masterpiece of architectural landscaping but also supplies the estate’s restaurants and shop.
With 88 ha under vine, Babylonstoren grows 13 different grape varieties with the highest plots – of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay – lying against Simonsberg at about 600 metres above sea level. While Babylostonren has been producing grapes since its inception, the first own-label wines were only released with the 2011 harvest, under the leadership of cellar master Charl Coetzee and winemaker Klaas Stoffberg. The wine range aims to be a combination of the very essence of Babylonstoren – keeping things simple and as true to the earth as possible. “It is this that we strive to achieve in our wine” says Charl Coetzee “truth to the area we are situated in, on the slopes of Simonsberg, and simplicity by making elegant and balanced wines, as natural as possible.”