Property Review: Wild Clover Farm
The likelihood of finding a four-leaf clover in nature is 1 in 10 000, and according to Irish superstition, brings the finder good luck. Tourism Tattler found both when visiting this unique hospitality establishment located in Stellenbosch, along Cape Town’s famous R304 wine route. By Beverley Langkilde.
Of course, Wild Clover Farm was not named with the shamrock superstition in mind, but I really did find not one, but two four-leaf clovers on the farm. Double luck?.
On entering the farm one is embraced with a sense of peace and tranquillity as the lush green fields unfold before you, reminiscent of a typical countryside scene in Ireland. An old saying ‘to be in clover’ means to live a carefree life of ease, comfort and prosperity, and these attributes are present in abundance at Wild Clover.
Having just concluded 3-nights at the Spier Wine Estate while attending the Southern Africa Tourism Services Association (SATSA) conference, I felt rather stressed when Wild Clover’s resident manager Richmond (Ric) Wilmot arrived to collect me for transfer on a rather cold Sunday morning. Ric’s affable nature, combined with the serenity of Wild Clover farm, and a mug of home brewed ‘Blind Mole’ beer, soon combined to dispel my post-conference stress syndrome.
Self Catering Accommodation
Checking into my comfortable cottage, which is equipped with a fireplace and a supply of wood and firelighters, I soon had a roaring fire going. The cottages border the Villiera Game Sanctuary / Game Farm, which is home to over 200 head of antelope and zebra.
The cottages are clean and cater for two people, with a double bed in the bedroom, although children can be accommodated on a pull-out sofa bed in the sitting room. Ample tables and chairs are provided both inside and outside the cottages and the kitchens are fully equipped and cleaned by staff daily. All units have showers and an outside braai area.
There is also 24 hour security as well as a panic button in each cottage, which can be used if one mistakes the sounds of the wild for an uninvited intruder. Currently six cottages are available and two additional cottages are under construction.
After a hearty breakfast, my son Chase and I set off for a game drive, which started at a reasonable hour of 9:30am. Game drives are undertaken in an open sided vehicle, which allows one to feel very connected to nature. Although his official title is Hotel Manager, Rick displayed his multidiscipline credentials by offering to be our safari guide. Rick’s experience and knowledge of wildlife has been gleaned over many years working at some of Botswana’s well known safari lodges and made the game drive all the more enjoyable. Springboks, Bontebok, Eland, Gemsbok, Bush Pig, Burchell’s Zebra, Duiker, Grysbok, Grey Rhebuck, Giraffe, Black Wildebeest and Kudu abound at every turn, not to mention the rare all-white Springbok, and relaxed tortoises. For twitchers, Wild Clover is a bird lovers paradise, and a bird watching stand has been built right on the damn. A game drive through the 220 hectare Wildlife Sanctuary lasts approximately two hours.
Villiera Wildlife Sanctuary
The Villiera Wildlife Sanctuary, opened in 2009, is situated in Koelenhof and access is gained through Villiera’s vineyards. In conjunction with two neighbours (the Cape Garden Centre and Klawervlei estate [Wild Clover Farm]) Villiera has set aside 220ha of land as a wildlife sanctuary. This area includes twelve dams plus marsh areas that attract a huge diversity of birdlife. Indigenous trees are grown in old milk containers or plastic water bottles by staff and then purchased from them when the saplings are a year old and planted throughout the sanctuary. By May 2012, over 60 000 indigenous trees had been planted to re-establish the sanctuary from farmland to its natural fauna state.
Wild Clover Brewery, situated on the Wild Clover farm, had its official opening on the 31st of August 2012. This young brewery joins the growing number of micro breweries nationwide, with the aim of brewing craft beer and enhancing and promoting the pleasure and enjoyment of ‘home crafted’ beer.
“The enjoyment of mealtimes and drinks are meant to be a festive occasion and not a matter of survival – back to slow and the values associated with it,” says Ampie Kruger and his team who are of the opinion that consumers are moving back to their roots and a lifestyle that is more balanced and less rushed.
This brewery concentrates on hand blending and brewing the finest quality craft beer, in the age-old European tradition. Wild Clover Brewery is the youngest addition to this rapidly growing industry. The fact that it is situated in the heart of the Cape Winelands makes it an exceptional and popular destination for locals and tourists alike.
Brewery hours are Fridays to Sundays 12h00 to 18h00 or by appointment.
The Country Pub
Nestled inside the corner of The Eatery at the Wild Clover Farm is a full service bar. A fine selection of spirits, great wine list and of course the full array of Wild Clover Brewery’s hand crafted beers.
The menu is not pretentious, nor is it expensive. The food is simple, fresh, wholesome and delicious. The wine selection (and beers of course) are from the region and reflect both quality and value.
After many years of dreaming of making their own wine, Wild Clover finally made the decision in 2007 to do just that, and resulted in the founding of Notre Rêve brand wines.
The first 500kg of Shiraz grapes were sourced from Glenelly Wine Estate in Stellenbosch, from which the first wine was produced in 2008. That same year, Glenelly completed their world class cellar and for the 2009 harvest season they required all of the grapes that they could get their hands on in order to fill their huge cellar. Being forced therefore to find a new supplier, Wild Clover were fortunate to find and source grapes from Diemersdal Winery in Durbanville, which is also their particular wine region.
“During 2008 we aged our wine in a stainless steel tank with some oak staves for flavouring. However, in 2009 we sourced 1000 kg’s of grapes from Diemersdal Winery and introduced small reconditioned wooden barrels for ageing. This proved to be much more successful than the oak staves and for the 2010 harvest, we made the decision to age our red wine only in barrels.
We are now using a combination of new, second and third fill barrels. During our first three years of winemaking at Notre Rêve wines, we also experimented with Port, Cap Classique, Chenin Blanc and Mourvèdre and we are now proud to say that we produce Cap Classique (Cabernet Sauvignon), Chenin Blanc, Syrah, and Mourvèdre/Syrah blended varieties.” says wine sommelier (and brewery) master Ampie Kruger.
“Many wine, beer and food makers often claim that their products are handcrafted. The question to ask though is what the definition of ‘handcrafted‘ is and when can you lay claim to that? Although we do not have the scientific or legal answer to this question we do believe that our products are truly handcrafted. Our cellar door is always open during all the phases of our winemaking and we welcome you to contact us or to join us during any of these phases,” says Kruger.
In conclusion, Wild Clover Farm offers a warm and friendly management style, with staff who are always ready to go that extra mile to make their guests stay comfortable and memorable. Wild Clover is a wonderful place for business people who need to chill-out as it offers peace and tranquillity with amazing views over the dams where you can watch the Blue Cranes, geese and buck come through to drink at the waterhole.
For more information visit www.wildclover.co.za