After our arrival in Stellenbosch, like the seven dwarfs traipsing after Snow White, we follow Hanli Fourie’s red
apron through historic streets. Although I’ve visited Stellenbosch countless times,
Hanli reveals a city hitherto hidden to my eyes that are usually busy counting coffee shops.
It is suspected that Schreuderhuis, on the corner of Church and Ryneveld streets, is colonial
South Africa’s oldest restored house. Built 300 years ago, on 10 December 1709, it survived
the fire because a thick bed of reeds, coated in mud, was stored under the ceiling. Outside
Schreuderhuis stands an oak tree with a ghostly impression of the town’s founder, Simon van der
Stel, mysteriously carved into its bark.
Another accolade for age goes to the D’Ouwe Werf Hotel. Built in 1802, it is believed to be the
oldest hotel in the country. Two elderly ladies smoke and drink tea in its beautiful courtyard,
the graceful Georgian style creating an ambience from a bygone era. But there are skeletons in
the basement, which contains the excavated remains of Stellenbosch’s first church that burned
down in the fire. In 1783, the magistrate Daniël van Rijneveld senior decided, against public
outcry, to divide the old churchyard into 10 plots, ignoring warnings of the misfortune that
would befall him if he continued with the subdivision. Low and behold, two years after his death,
a Stellenbosch inhabitant claims to have seen his ghost riding on horseback, accompanied by his
Another local mystery is the tragic fate of Reverend Hercules van Loon, the first permanent
minister of Stellenbosch. Tragedy struck in 1704 when he returned from his farm near Klapmuts,
got off his horse and allegedly committed suicide by slitting his own throat.
Mystery and mayhem are best discussed over a pot of tea and Hanli promises to cure my
aversion to the medicinal Rooibos and to teach me how to dunk a rusk so that it doesn’t end
up sinking to the bottom of my cup. At a cosy café, we enjoy an Afrikaans version of the tea
ceremony. I drink the brackish Rooibos with no milk or sugar and for the first time notice its
Next, it’s on to the “Wine and Stud Farm” guided stroll at Avontuur Wine Estate. Owned by the
late tobacco tycoon Tony Taberer, today his children are running the estate. Var, the estate’s stud
stallion, was Tony’s favourite horse and was even brought to church for his owner’s funeral.
To fortify us for our 30-minute stroll we taste the Minnelli pinot noir. With its strong farmyard
flavours, this wine pays homage to the mare who initiated the prize-winning Var into the gentle
arts of lovemaking. The first time a stallion covers a mare establishes his mating pattern for life.
After coming at it wildly from every angle, Var successfully mounted Minnelli to launch his
career as South Africa’s highest-paid sex worker.
Owners pay upfront to have their mare mated with Var. If he doesn’t do the deed, they lose their
money. Thankfully, Var has a 95% take rate, which is a polite way of saying that he’ll do it with
any mare. Except that recently he seems to have developed an aversion to light-coloured mares.
One of the finest brood mares in the stable is the silver Saraband, so when it comes time for them
to make hay, Var is blinkered. If that doesn’t do the trick, out come the polo mints. The imported
British mints seem to have an aphrodisiac effect and Var eats them one packet at a time.
To experience the above activities or to find out more about other unique experiences, contact
Cape Tourist Guide Connection. Bookings 076 056 7532, firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information at www.capetouristguide.co.za.
Giving visitors unique insights into the culture and heritage of Stellenbosch, one of the many
experiences offered by Cape Tourist Guide Connection.