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Decanter’s Dream Destination: Delaire Graff Estate, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Every month Decanter selects a must-visit destination for wine travellers. This month sees the turn of Delaire Graff, one of Stellenbosch’s most luxurious estates where art is given primacy.

In Bordeaux, it’s majestic chateaux. In the Douro Valley, steep schist terraces. In Chianti, gentle rolling hills. Every wine region has its photogenic charms, but in Stellenbosch dramatic landscapes sing with a painterly palette that verges on Impressionistic: craggy peaks that glow purple at dusk, jigsaw valley floor of green vines, crisp azure blue skies. It’s fitting then that this South African region is home to Delaire Graff, a vinous estate and hotel where the art is as esteemed as the wine.

Planted in the 1980s by South African wine critics John and Erica Platter, the estate was acquired by billionaire British jeweller Laurence Graff in 2003 after he fell in love with its remarkable panoramic views across the Banghoek Valley. As well as capitalising on the prime vineyard situation across the north face of Botmaskop Peak – ideally placed for turning out world-class wines – Graff set about making the estate a first-rate hospitality destination with a locally unrivalled arts programme.

Today, every corner of Delaire Graff is populated with works from its owner’s personal portfolio, from large-scale stone carving by Nicolas Moreton to charcoal drawings by William Kentridge and abstract sculpture by Anton Smit. Arguably the most eye-catching of pieces is set in the rambling landscaped grounds right outside the hotel: a majestic bronze cheetah by Dylan Lewis. It’s a celebration of the raw power and form of African wildlife, backdropped by the most picturesque of valley views.

Delaire Graff superior lodges at sunset

The wine programme

One of Stellenbosch’s most respected names, Delaire Graff also turns out exceptional Bordeaux variety red wines and Chardonnays from its 17ha of terroir. The best way to discover these is over an afternoon in the Wine Lounge, where tutored tastings of three, four or five wines can skip you from the mineral-noted Banghoek Reserve Chardonnay to elegant Laurence Graff Reserve (a claret-style Cabernet Sauvignon) and honeyed Sunburst Noble Late Harvest.

You can pair your chosen line up with cheese and charcuterie here, but don’t fill up: to miss out on the broader culinary offering at Delaire Graff would be a shame. At Asian-inspired Hōseki restaurant pair sushi, tempura and robata grill offerings with an extensive range of Delaire Graff wines by the glass – or bottles of Mev Kirsten 2021 Chenin Blanc or Dom Pérignon Plénitude 2. Meanwhile in the bistro-style Delaire Graff Estate restaurant, free-range duck or Karoo Wagyu is washed down with the likes of Hartenberg Gravel Hill 2016 or Alto MPHS 2017.

And of course if you are keen to taste more of the local wines, you can easily strike out into the wider region, using Delaire Graff as your base. Of the 150 or so wineries in the area, many are just a few minutes’ drive away, including Tokara, Zorgvliet and well-known Boschendal.

Delaire Graff superior lodge interior

Stay and spa

The wine and art alone is enough to satisfy day visitors, but the perks for overnighting guests at Delaire Graff come into play with the sublime accommodation. Spacious lodges with private pools and advantageous views over the valley are designed like stylish homely pads with comfortable seating area, wet bar and Bose music stations.

Also in the mix, an onsite spa boasts a 22m alfresco infinity pool and jacuzzi – as well as more art pieces by Deborah Bell and Ndikhumbule Ngqinambi – to enjoy alongside ILA and Augustinus Bader treatments. Or for a feel-good factor of another kind, ask a staff member to tell you more about the hotel’s sustainable initiatives, from the charitable For Africa’s Children Every Time (FACET) Foundation to the organic kitchen garden and wormery, or water-wise indigenous gardens. Either way, you’ll find a reason to want to linger a little bit longer.

See the Delaire Graff Estate website for further details.

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