Vergenoegd: content among the ducks

In my family, we have always had a special love for our feathered friends, so it was just a question of time until we made our way to Vergenoegd Wine Estate – a beautiful historic wine farm about 35km from Cape Town, and home of the famous duck parade.

Vergenoegd Wine Estate entrance

Dirt road leading to Vergenoegd Wine Estate
Keep going… bliss awaits you on the other side of this dirt road.

One of the oldest farms in the Cape, Vergenoegd Wine Estate boasts a beautiful location next to the Eerste River and incredible views of the Hottentots Holland mountains (to the east) and Table Mountain (to the far west). Its first owner, Pieter de Vos very aptly named the farm ‘Vergenoegd’ – a wonderful emotive word in Dutch that means ‘content’ or ‘in a state of peaceful happiness’. De Vos must have felt like he hit the jackpot when he was granted such a fertile piece of land in 1696 by Simon van der Stel, first governor of the Cape Colony.

A warm welcome at Vergenoegd Wine Estate.
A warm welcome at Vergenoegd Wine Estate.
Vergenoegd Wine Estate vineyards
The vineyards at Vergenoegd Wine Estate.

Since those early days, the farm changed ownership a few times, until it was purchased in 1820 by Johannes Gysbertus Faure. It is here that the Vergenoegd wine-making tradition was born. The estate remained in the Faure family for six generations – they left such a legacy that the area surrounding Vergenoegd Wine Estate is still known as ‘Faure’ today.

Wine and duck parades – a great combo

Over the years, Vergenoegd Wine Estate developed a reputation for quality red wines and, more recently, for their unusual feathered workforce in the vineyards. Since 1984, an army of  hundreds of Indian Runner ducks has been working in the vineyards to help control snails and pests. They were brought in from Asia by John Faure, who was an avid bird lover.

Vergenoegd Wine Estate drive slowly sign

Vergenoegd Wine Estate Duck Parade
The Indian Runner ducks amusing kids of all ages on their morning duck parade.

When they are not feasting on snails and bugs in the vineyards, they are amusing kids of all ages on their daily duck parades at 09h45, 12h30 and 15h30. When they are off duty, they love to chill out on the beautiful dam with the geese or take a break from the spotlight in their duck pens.

Chilling out at the dam.
Chilling out at the dam.
Geese at the Vergenoegd Wine Estate dam, with Table Mountain in background
The ducks share the Vergenoegd dam with a gaggle of geese. See the lovely outline of Table Mountain in the far distance.

We started our visit to Vergenoegd with a very delectable breakfast at the Vergenoegd restaurant – the weather was perfect on the day and we were seated at a table in front of the historic Cape Dutch homestead.

Vergenoegd Wine Estate
The historic Cape Dutch homestead at Vergenoegd Wine Estate.
Breakfast at Vergenoegd: the food is so beautifully presented.
Breakfast at Vergenoegd: the food is so beautifully presented.

Just as we had finished our meals, it was time for the first duck parade of the day. Our table was right next to the path where the ducks would run past – we couldn’t have asked for better seating!

Duck run at the Vergenoegd Wine Estate
Getting our ducks in a row…

The amusing thing about the Indian Runner ducks is that they stand upright like penguins and run – instead of waddle like other ducks. The ducks dutifully performed their run for the dozens of visitors, before relaxing in the dam. (I guess they had the day off because it was Saturday?)

Having a quacking time

If ducks are not your thing (what’s wrong with you!?), there are plenty of other activities to choose from for a fun day out at Vergenoegd Wine Estate: you could go on a cellar tour and wine tasting (highly recommended); enjoy a family picnic on the big lawn under ancient Oak trees or a breakfast/lunch at the restaurant (like we did); you could also treat yourself to a personalised  blending experience of wine, coffee, tea or olive oil (you get to take your masterpiece home with you).

Wine tasting in style at Vergenoegd Wine Estate.
Wine blending in style at Vergenoegd Wine Estate.
The Vergenoegd ducks even have a wine named after them.
The Vergenoegd ducks even have a wine named after them.

Keep the kids entertained with duck tours or fun games organised by Vergenoegd; go on a Saturday family run in the vineyards; check out the food and craft market (also on a Saturday); or relax at a Sunday concert in the summer season.

Vergenoegd Wine Estate
There’s humour everywhere!
Vergenoegd Wine Estate - under the old Oak trees
Relax under the ancient Oak trees at Vergenoegd Wine Estate.
Vergenoegd Wine Estate - old-fashioned game for the kids
Old-fashioned games for the kids at Vergenoegd Wine Estate.

For many years I drove past Vergenoegd Wine Estate, always in a hurry to get onto the N2 to Cape Town and completely unaware of the beauty that was hidden behind the bushes from the road. Little did I know that the long dirt road from Baden Powell Drive would lead me to a beautiful and peaceful world, far away from the rush of the city. And, I have the ducks to thank for that!

You can even take some ducks home with you... (Ducks at Vergenoegd's Saturday market.)
Don’t you just love these? Ducks at Vergenoegd’s Saturday market.

Vergenoegd Wine Estate is the first (or last) stop on the Stellenbosch Wine Route (depending on the direction you are coming from), about 35km from Cape Town. You’ll find the entrance to the estate on Badel Powell Drive, just off the N2. Visit Vergenoegd Wine Estate’s website for more information or to make an online booking.

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Kids of all ages love to go to Vergenoegd Wine Estate, near Cape Town, to watch the famous duck parade. This thousand-strong army of Indian Runner ducks helps to keep the vineyards free of bugs and snails.

This post is linked up at:

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24 thoughts on “Vergenoegd: content among the ducks

  • March 16, 2017 at 10:08 pm
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    I must say I did wonder what on EARTH ducks have to do with a vinyard, and I am delighted that there is an actual point to them and that they are not just there for fun.

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    • March 20, 2017 at 5:09 pm
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      Ha ha! Yup! They actually have a job to do on the farm… besides entertaining the visitors 🙂

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    • February 22, 2017 at 11:04 pm
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      You’re welcome! It’s so nice to hear from you, Edward.

      Reply
    • January 19, 2017 at 11:33 pm
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      Thanks Katya! So glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for stopping by!

      Reply
  • January 7, 2017 at 7:37 pm
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    Those Indian Runner ducks are so funny! I’d have a mad time with my camera here. The buildings are lovely too. Interesting post #FarawayFiles

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    • January 7, 2017 at 10:21 pm
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      Ha ha, yes, I did go crazy taking loads of pics with my phone… but I did wish I’d taken a proper camera along for better close ups etc. Next time 🙂 Thanks for the visit!

      Reply
    • January 7, 2017 at 10:19 pm
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      Our outing felt like a mini holiday – always good to just get away from it all!

      Reply
  • January 7, 2017 at 3:20 pm
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    Oh I love Indian Runner Ducks – it’s so hilarious watching them walk. I’d love to have a few in our garden – they’d keep our chicken company. Such a great idea – this is something my family would love to see. Thanks so much for sharing with us on #FarawayFiiles
    Clare (Suitcases and Sandcastles) recently posted…Faraway Files #12My Profile

    Reply
    • January 7, 2017 at 4:04 pm
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      They are very comical! 🙂 And yes, why not get a few to keep your chicken company and your garden free of snails and other pests – a nice bonus!

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  • January 7, 2017 at 11:06 am
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    This is awesome Birgit! I am a real sucker for a long lunch at a winery but the duck parade raises this experience to a must seek out immediately when I finally make it to Cape Town. Looks like you had a quacking good time. Thanks for joining us on #FarawayFiles

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    • January 7, 2017 at 4:02 pm
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      Ha ha! Thanks, Katy! It was a lot of fun! Perfect day out for the whole family 🙂

      Reply
  • January 5, 2017 at 11:15 pm
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    I can’t believe you went there! Not long ago, I saw the video of the duck parade (and how they work to keep the vineyard pest free). I thought it was the cutest thing! Now, I know this is something you can actually witness. Would love to go! #FarawayFiles
    Ruth recently posted…New York City’s Holiday Train ShowMy Profile

    Reply
    • January 6, 2017 at 8:36 am
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      Yes, I remember that cool video… it went viral! The ducks are too cute and such hard little workers 🙂

      Reply
  • January 5, 2017 at 7:47 pm
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    Oh my gosh – I love this! How hilarious would that be! We used to have chickens at our home in Oregon, which we left two years ago and we miss them. The setting is beautiful – love that there is something for everyone to enjoy. Thank you for sharing with #FarawayFiles – welcome to what we hope is a very supportive and engaged Travel Community! Happy to see what else you will show us this year! Cheers from Copenhagen, Erin

    Reply
    • January 6, 2017 at 8:33 am
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      Totally! We had so much fun that we’ll be going there again soon for a friend’s birthday. Thanks for the warm welcome! I look forward to sharing and following more adventures with the #Farawayfiles travel community 🙂

      Reply
    • January 2, 2017 at 12:31 pm
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      Ha ha. Yup! Something completely different… and so amusing!

      Reply
  • December 31, 2016 at 11:32 pm
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    I would have loved to see a duck parade. They look so cute. Vergenoegd Wine Estate seems really fun. I’ll definitely visit it if I’ll make it to Cape Town.

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    • January 1, 2017 at 12:05 am
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      They are super cute! And the stars of the Vergenoegd ‘show’ 🙂

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    • December 24, 2016 at 11:07 am
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      It was so much fun – so glad you could join us 🙂 XX

      Reply

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