Normally, I don’t like to use the word hidden gem, over the last two years every Tom, Dick and Harry has become a hidden gem. This takes away the true meaning of the phrase. Having said that, Louisvale is literally hidden – tucked away in vineyards. If you don’t know better, you would just simply drive by! Instead of calling it a hidden gem I am going to call Louisvale a lucky find! You will see why in a moment or two… So don’t go away!
From an extremely young age, I was wine farm hopping… I could not taste wine unfortunately. My mom would say they will lock her up in jail if she did. I was only allowed to taste at home! 😂 Anyway my earliest memory of going to Louisvale, was when I was about two bricks and a tickey high. Don’t remember much, except being petrified and unable to move when these two or four massive beast (Great Danes) came galloping straight for me, their deep and intimidating barks echoing across the valley.
Fast forward a few good solid years and much has changed since then. Today I am excited in sharing my day out at Louisvale.
Where is Louisvale?
Firstly, let’s discover where Louisvale is! So many people are asking as to where this gorgeous place is. The best is – you don’t even have to travel miles…. It is just before you get to Stellenbosch CBD from Distel side, behind the animal welfare. Traveling on a tranquil and beautiful country road it, is to the left of JC Le Roux. Right… now that we have that out of the way, can we get straight down to business?
Louisvale is absolutely spectacular. The view… well I have no words in describing the view. I guess you will have to go see for yourself. Standing on deck with a glass wall so nothing is blocking your view, you see luscious and well manicured vineyards, the famous Stellenbosch mountains making its way down to Helderberg. Just peeking its head, reminding you not to forget about them is the Franschhoek pass.
Louisvale has been making fine wine for the past 30 years! Did you know that Louisvale are the pioneers of Chardonnay in South Africa? Neither did I!
“Louisvale believes in the “Art of Chardonnay” and we are tirelessly committed to our task of crafting and creating Chardonnay of the highest standard.”
Each and every grape is hand picked during harvest. Every vineyard block is treated individually. Even though the Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are locally sourced at a neighboring farm, the exact same care and love is repeated keeping true to the character of Louisvale.
Thus so far, Louisvale has won a numerous of prestigious wine awards. Recently won three Golds at the Michaelangelo Awards for its 2018 Chardonnay, and for its Brut and Rose MCC wines. Personally tasted these wines and yes, those awards are truly valid.
Experiencing Louisvale Wines
As I am still struggling with MCC’s… but I can say that it is slowly growing on me. When I was at Wine on the River, I really enjoyed Graham Becks MCC and started to think perhaps there is hope, but Louisvale’s Brut MCC Rose I will give that a 10/10! Firstly, the colour is beautiful… it is a vibrant pink Rosé (Chardonnay Pinot Noir). Immediately on the nose you get freshly crushed strawberries and cherries. On the palate, the bubbles are fine and the foam persistent with flavours that are reminiscent of fresh, crisp red berries.
Louisvale also makes a MCC Brut which is made with 100% Chardonnay. A lovely MCC with fruit and brioche on the nose. You get zesty lemon on the palate, and it is not that… extreme dry, but for me personally I loved the Rosé more.
The Sauvignon Blanc from the Stone Range is gorgeous! It reminded me of the New Zealand styled Sauvignon Blanc I had when I was in the UK or almost similar to the Black Elephant Vintners. Unlike the typical green pepper, green figs or gooseberry flavours you get this beautiful tropical notes coming through on the palate. Very fruity and well balanced in acid. I enjoyed this one so much I had to take some home.
I can easily go on and on about their wines, sadly time doesn’t allow me to continue. If I do then this article will be a Thesis! You will just have to stay tuned or check my Instagram account.
The Louisvale Wine Emporium: From Vine to Design
Hidden so deep in the vineyards you will find an unusually striking building. Due to the design of the building you almost don’t even see it. It is completely hiding from the road.
Let me tell you this building is beautiful. Very different compared to the many buildings in Stellenbosch. I am a sucker for architecture and design. And this one…. well this one…. is full of surprises. Here you will find interesting curves, designs and even history. It is truly a magnificent piece of art!
The designer of the new building is done by the award-winning architect, Christof Albertyn which represents the mixture of African and European building traditions.
Guys, this is what I absolutely loved the most about the design of this venue, is how deep into history they went. They didn’t stop from when the settlers arrived, they went further! Just take a moment and think… who were the original inhabitants of the Cape?
That is right my boozy friends, this breathtakingly beautiful building is inspiration of the very first inhabitants living on Louisvale farm. A Khoisan tribe known as the Khoekhoen. During summer months they lived in Strand / Gordon’s Bay living off Perlemoen and Allekrik.
As it starts to get colder they moved inland, taking with them their dome shaped homes that was made from Taaibos laths, covered with woven reed mats and animal skins. Then fast forward when the settlers arrived the white gabled, Cape Dutch style, had been introduced by European Colonialists in the 17thCentury, and which is the original homestead built in 1924.
More about the design
The Louisvale Wine Emporium is about a marriage of both new and old; joining elements in a contemporary way.
The soft curve of the Rheinzink cladding reflects the shape and surface of the Khoekhoen reed mat hut, supported by curved steel rails, connected by floating glass to the polished concrete floor, infused with chips of Perlemoen shell.
The Rheinzink dome acts as a screen against the strong prevailing South Easter winds and hovers above a low concrete roof plated with Restios. These reeds symbolises the thatched roof of the 1924 built, Neo Cape Dutch style homestead. The new structure connects to the existing building by means of glass roofed passage.
But that is not all my Boozy Darlings, the Rheinzink dome facade hides away in strategic places into organic curved shapes to maximize the views of the distant Cape Folded Mountains. These glazed, cave-like openings on the other hand reflect the shape of the openings in a Perlemoen Shell.
Optical Illusion: A hole in the tree…
You can clearly now see why this venu is a work of art. So much little details all waiting to be discovered.
The restaurant at Louisvale focuses on dishes featuring only on fresh and seasonal produce. Af the seasons changes, so does the Louisvale menu. In actual fact every month it changes, making it rather exciting, fresh and of course mouthwatering.
Executive chef Kirstie du Toit studied at The Culinary Academy (TCA) at Backsberg and comes from a family of bakers and farmers. She and her team working extremely hard in delighting and tantalizing your palate with original and delicious home-made food.
And believe me, it is good! Wholesome Italian and French inspired dishes presented in a rustic way. Your taste buds are in for a party!!
The selections available to choose from on the menu is a good balance. I felt there was enough to give you the feeling of selection but also not too much that you felt overwhelmed and had no idea where to begin.
You can choose to just either just sit back, relax, sip some wine while picking on a meat and cheese platter, or if you like something more hearty, you can have a lamb steak, perhaps something a little more fine dining – a duck confit. There is something for everyone.
My Boozy Foodie Experience at Louisvale
In the end… I chose an ink squid gnocci, with fresh squid, pancetta, and a gorgeous champaign sauce (of course My Boozy Kitchen must choose something with booze in it 😜) please forgive me Kirstie I clean forgot the name of the sauce. And it was the perfect combination. Like I said it was a party in your mouth with everyone having a joll.
One bite and you get the softness of the gnocci, a crunch and saltiness from the pancetta, a taste of the sea from the squid and a perfect balance of acidity from the Champagne sauce. It was heaven!!! I only wished for a piece of crusty bread to soak up the reaming sauce left in my plate.
Presentation – was gorgeous! Love how the Gnocci was purple and matched the stunning stone like purple/blue plate. By the way I love purple and I guess that is why I love Louisvale, even their wine labels are purple. How awesome!! FYI – Jules – this one is for you and whenever you come to SA again for a visit – we are so going here!!
The prices of dishes is at a good price, not cheap but also not too expensive. When you consider all the ingredients, you are getting quality. If you have a family it can work out quite a bit. The food on the menu is also not quite for children. We all know kids are fussy eaters, I have know idea if they have children’s menu, didn’t ask… don’t have any children so it never crossed my mine at the time.
I would say Louisvale is a great date option so perhaps find a baby sitter for the day while you and your partner can just spend some quality time together taking in the peace and quiet. You don’t even hear traffic!!
Oh my….. I almost forgot dessert!!! How can I forget dessert!!! The best ever crispy but chewy center meringues, raspberry coulis, vanilla ice cream with dollops of white chocolate and a sprinkle of pistachio. Hmmmmm decadent, delicious and sublime…. 🤤🤤 I would have licked my plate, but just the thought… I got a virtual klap across the lugs from my mom. My dad though would have been proud!! 😂😂
If you feel like being a thousand miles away, but don’t want to travel far Louisvale is your place! If you are looking for peace and quiet with great food excellent wines Louisvale is your place! Finally if you are looking for a different experience and love architecture – yes you guessed it, Louisvale is your place to be!