f you haven’t been to Ecology Lifestyle Farm, you’ve almost certainly driven past it. Located on the R43, a few kilometres from the Bot River turn-off, you’ll do well to include a visit the next time you head over the mountain – or on your way back.
At this unique destination, Daphne Neethling and Mohseen Moosa are developing the farm according to their passionate vision. Although they only purchased the Ecology farm in 2015, they are not newcomers to the area, having bought a large fruit farm on Swartrivier Road in 2001.
This 1 430 ha farm named PaardenKloof, which means ‘Valley of the horses’ is a historic site where Voortrekkers herded their horses in the 1800s and the Khoisan before them herded their Nguni cattle.
In 2002 they decided to shift their focus from fruit to wine and established 23 ha of remote mountainous vineyards at PaardenKloof, which borders the Babilonstoring Nature Reserve. Grape varieties were specifically sourced for their suitability to the terroir and the grapes are used to hand craft limited edition, single-vineyard varietals of premium matured Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc wines.
Besides their limited release wines, which represent the estate’s pivotal passion, they also farm organically reared Dormer sheep, fynbos honey, cut flowers and a stud herd of indigenous Nguni cattle. More than 1 000 ha is conserved as natural fynbos in an area where leopard, buck and lynx still roam freely. A botanical survey has identified more than 180 indigenous species, including 24 Proteaceae and 28 Erica species.
As passionate conservationists, Daphne and Mohseen consider these treasures as gifts from nature that have been entrusted to their care for future generations. The Ecology Lifestyle Farm now forms part of this biodiversity family and was designed to make the farm’s products more accessible to the public. Here you will find a spacious restaurant, tasting room, gift shop, fynbos nursery and play area for children with farmyard animals. Natural building materials such as wood and stone were used, creating a rustic and relaxed country lifestyle ambience.
The restaurant, which is open all day for breakfast, lunch or simply a coffee break, has large stack doors that open up to the beautiful surroundings.
Products from the farm, including organic lamb, beef and raw honey, are used in the restaurant, which focuses on traditional, South African dishes such as potjiekos, braaivleis and their famous family-secret mutton curry and vegan recipes! The venue can accommodate up to 120 guests and is ideal for weddings, functions and conferences.
In the tasting room visitors can sit around the wooden tables in front of a roaring fire or relax on comfy leather couches on the shaded stoep while indulging in PaardenKloof’s exceptional wines. Viticulturist Kevin Watt, who has been with PaardenKloof since 2006, takes care of the vines alongside Mohseen, while award-winning Bot River winemaker Kobie Viljoen is contracted to make their wines, which are matured and bottled at PaardenKloof’s dry cellar.
Two ranges are produced – the premium, matured PaardenKloof range of Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz; and the ‘easy-drinking’ Ecology range, first released in 2016, which represents the younger vintages. This year will also see the launch of their first Pinot Noir wines, and new plantings of Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and more Pinot Noir are also on the cards for 2019.
Besides food and wine, Ecology Lifestyle Farm showcases the fabulous fynbos found at PaardenKloof. Daphne is planning on converting a large shed into a fresh flower market alongside their existing Protea décor service at Ecology, which specialises in wedding and events flowers. An additional 5 ha of different Protea species, including the ever-popular White and Pink King Protea, will be planted at PaardenKloof this year.
Daphne and Mohseen are keen to share their natural treasures with visitors, which is why they are currently renovating five cottages on the farm, perfect for idyllic weekend getaways and as a base for fynbos hikes on the farm.
This year’s Cape Epic will be traversing PaardenKloof Estate, with riders following the Land Rover technical section called ‘The Machine’ over the mountain from Hemel-en-Aarde during Stage 2 of the race.
Ecology Lifestyle Farm can be contacted on 028 284 9809. They are open daily from 08:30 – 17:00.