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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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).
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.
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!
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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