The distant whistle of the duck handlers indicated the start of Vergenoegd’s famous daily Duck Parade. Like the excited children next to me, I lined up in anticipation and craned my neck to catch a glimpse of the 1000-strong Indian Runner Ducks as they approached us.
With a wave of the handler’s flag they set off and a waddling crowd of feathery workers trundled past, making their way in a joyous procession around the lawns, cellar and Manor house while we all desperately snapped as many pics as possible. I almost expected to see the very official-looking ducks carrying tiny briefcases, their comically upright stance and chatty quacking reminiscent of bankers on the way to trade in Wall Street.
Aside from being unbelievably cute, the Runner Ducks play a critical role in naturally maintaining the pests on Vergenoegd’s vineyards where they have the very important job of gobbling up snails and bugs. This allows the estate to produce wine in an increasingly eco-friendly way, and are also a major reason why they boast a WWF biodiversity certification.
While the Duck Parade takes place three times a day, interested guests can also take a tour of the duck pens and learn more about the breeding program from Denzel (Mr. D), their passionate duck farmer.
Don’t Duck Out Without Grabbing a Bite and Tasting the Wine
Built in 1696, Vergenoegd is one of the Western Cape’s oldest wine farms. But their recent change in ownership means that they’ve ushered in a whole host of new and exciting experiences and menus to enjoy.
Breakfast, Lunches and Artisanal Picnics
I grabbed a spot under their oak trees on the lush lawns outside of their lovingly restored old Manor House and tucked into a flat white and wonderful breakfast of homemade granola with fresh fruit and yoghurt and a topping of smoked peanut butter that had me seriously considering ordering seconds. As we ate under the dappled sun, the resident Chinese geese ambled between us, pinching any dropped crumbs and generally enjoy the attention from guests.
Those visiting in the afternoon can look forward to an array of artisanal picnics, platters or even a three-course meal, developed by Vergenoegd’s passionate chef, Ryan Shell and all made with farm-fresh ingredients. Their family-friendly approach means that Ryan has also put together a ‘Duckling Delight’ picnic for kiddies that come with an absorbing activity, allowing grown-ups to get on with the very serious business of supping their delicious wines.
Wine Tastings and Cellar Tours
Vergenoegd’s new breath of life extends to their wines where winemaker, Marlize Jacobs, is shaking things up; investing in new fermentation tanks and exciting blends that will be released in the months and years to come. That’s not to say that the wines of the moment aren’t excellent because they most certainly are. Guests are invited to tour the historic cellars and taste their Runner Duck Range (easy drinking and perfect for quaffing with the picnics), Classic Range as well as their red vintages – some of oldest wine available for tasting on the Stellenbosch Wine Route. I couldn’t leave without nabbing a couple of bottles of the Runner Duck Red – a beautiful tribute to my morning spent enjoying the delightful ducks and farm.
Blending Experiences and Live Music Events
With wine, coffee, tea and even olive oil blending classes, Vergenoegd truly caters to any taste. For R200, guests can join an unhurried and sensory blending experience and afterwards, take home their own personal blend, specially packaged for them.
Vergenoegd also hosts live concerts on the first Sunday of each month during summer. Head down and enjoy a line-up of some of SA’s best musicians, coupled with the delicious food, wine and bubbly that will be on sale.
The next concert, taking place on 2 April, will be headlined by Matthew Mole. Tickets can be bought online from web tickets.
Duck Tours: R20 per person
To see more about what’s on at Vergenoegd and to book your spot for breakfast or lunch, visit their website.
Blog post by: Tarah Darge
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