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2018-07-11 05:30

Ferdi de Vos / Images - Ryan Abbott - Roadtrip

Image: Ryan Abbott

It was an opportunity not to be missed. A visit to the scenic and highly rated Endless Vineyards Boutique Lodge on the Wildekrans Wine Estate, ideally situated between the leafy scenery of Bot River and the sunny beaches of Hermanus, on one of the premier tourist routes in the Western Cape.

The estate, only a scenic, one-hour drive from the Cape Town International Airport, is located on rolling hills overlooking Walker Bay, and while it originally was a mixed farming operation, it today produces some of the finest wines; not just in South Africa but world-wide.

Hitting the road

So, we packed our Arctic White flagship Mercedes-Benz V250d Avantgarde (well, it is top-of-the-line in SA, at least. Overseas an even more luxurious Exclusive version, with long wheelbase, is available) and took the N2 towards Caledon.

READ: From speedfreak to supermom: Top family cars in SA

While unmistakably a large transporter, the V-Class hides its bus-like lines well, mostly due to the expressive front with tapered hood and (optional) LED-headlights with a modern design.

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Rising lines connect the rear to the signature Mercedes radiator grille to form a harmonious whole. But it is the luxurious interior of the Avantgarde that sets it apart.

The cockpit features high-quality recessed switches within the wave-shaped dash and the free-standing media display forms a central focus to the for4ward cabin. First-class materials and Lugano leather seats add a haptic element to the atmosphere.

The four individual seats in the rear compartment can be arranged face to face or aligned forward, and a nifty fold-out table can convert it into a conference space.

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By removing the rear seats 1 030 litres of space can be made to load a bicycle or other bulky objects, while the front seats can be rotated toward the doors for easy entry and exit or turned around completely to face the rear passengers.

Oh, yes, naturally two electric sliding doors give access to the interior, and the Easy-Pack rear door opens and closes with the press of a button.

The trip over Sir Lowry’s Pass was serene, thanks to the excellent air-con system (with separate controls for the rear passengers) and the superb  
Burmester surround sound system.

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With 140kW of power and 440Nm of torque (480Nm for short periods) and aided by the Dynamic Select driving mode switch, overtaking was easy, while the Agility Control suspension and 19-inch tyres on attractive five-spoke rims provided for a well-dampened ride.

The 7G-Tronic Plus auto transmission worked seamlessly and equipped with the BlueEfficiency package (with a generator that recharges the battery during braking, as well aerodynamic underbody cladding) the big bus delivered outstanding consumption figures.

World-class destination

By now we have turned off the N2 onto the R43 towards Hermanus, then turned left at the well-marked entrance and followed the long tree-lined access road that winds down through green vineyards to the estate and lodge with its beautiful view of the Overberg mountains.

The first fruit trees and vineyards at Wildekrans were planted over a hundred years ago and the original wine cellar dates back to the 1920s and 1930s. The first of the present vineyards were planted in 1982 and a new wine cellar was built.

From 1997, new vineyards comprising over 40 hectares were planted and every building on the farm, some in ruins and dating back over 150 years, have been restored.

Since 2009 the estate has won a myriad of awards for its quality wines – in South Africa and internationally. It now has three ranges of wines; the Caresse Marine, the Estate Range, and the Barrel Select.

Our abode was a well-appointed two-bedroom chalet with an astounding vista over the vineyards, the Bot River and rolling hills leading towards Walker Bay. Sitting on the veranda taking in the view with a glass of wine in hand, one could truly relax.

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That evening we drove to Bot River for supper at Manny’s Kitchen, adjacent to the charming Bot River Hotel. The owner, Manny de Andrade, a Madeiran who settled in South Africa nearly two decades ago, was on hand to assist with our dinner choices, and the Portuguese prawn dish he suggested was delicious. However, do remember to take your own liquor as the restaurant is not licenced.

Culinary delight

After another day of luxurious relaxation, doing as little as possible, we had dinner at the critically acclaimed Forage Restaurant that provides for an “indigenous dining experience” – a unique culinary encounter with the weather and seasons determining what is delivered onto your plate.

The inspiration behind the Forage concept is drawn from the Khoisan people who foraged the land for their daily food. The Forage team then recreating traditional food from the area and gives it a cosmopolitan spin.

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Under the guidance of the internationally recognised Chef, Greg Henderson, contemporary dishes are served, using age-old cooking techniques in line with his philosophy of promoting a sustainable, unique dining experience.

We can highly recommend a breakaway to Endless Vineyards – more so when you can get there comfortably and in style as embodied by the V-Class, the most exclusive mono-volume vehicle on the market (with a price tag of over R1 million) with a sense of style like no other vehicle in its category.


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