Simondium near Paarl Western Cape South Africa, Vineyard of the Babylonstoren wine estate.

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Top choice in Winelands

This 2.5-sq-km wine and fruit farm is on the north slope of the Simonsberg mountain between Klapmuts and Paarl. Its highlight is an 800-sq-metre, formally designed garden; inspired by Cape Town’s Company’s Garden, it is an incredible undertaking, featuring edible and medicinal plants, lotus ponds and espaliered quince trees, chicken coops and a maze of prickly-pear cacti. Reserve a place on one of the garden tours (10am).

Better yet, check into one of the super-chic guest rooms (single/double from R4200/5700), crafted from the old workers’ cottages, so that once the day visitors have left you can enjoy the gardens – not to mention the spa and pool in one of the farm’s old reservoir tanks.

There’s no need to reserve if you’d like lunch at the Greenhouse (mains R75 to R100), hidden deep in the garden. However, bookings are essential for the Babel (mains R100 to R280), which serves delicious meals made with produce from the garden and quaffable wines that the farm has recently resumed making. The new wine cellar is a model of contemporary design with interesting exhibits related to the wine-making process. There are cellar tours on the hour (R35, including tasting). You can also buy freshly baked bread and charcuterie cured on-site if you feel like picnicking.

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