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vergelegen

cellar


The Vergelegen winery is unlike any previously designed in South Africa, epitomising the property’s maxim: Ex Africa semper aliquid novi (Out of Africa always something new). Situated high up on a hilltop, only the top level of the multi-levelled structure is visible. With its octagonal shape mirroring the design of the historic homestead’s walled garden, originally laid out by 18th-century founder WA van der Stel, the visitor’s viewing deck and roof garden offers a 360º view of the estate, with the towering Hottentots Holland mountain peaks behind, the town of Somerset West below, the Atlantic Ocean beyond and in the distance, Table Mountain.

Approached in the early 1990’s, architect Patrick Dillon says: “We were given carte blanche to locate and design the winery, with the caveat that it should acknowledge in some way the historic homestead and allow for a gravity-flow wine-making process.” He continues: “The geometry that we adopted for the building is a literal allusion to the octagonal gardens at the homestead, but it also happens to be an efficient organisational geometry for the wine-making facilities, such as the fermentation tank room and barrel cellar. Burying the structure in the hilltop not only made a gravity-flow process possible, it also minimised the visual impact of the structure on the landscape.”

Besides the top level, the three subterranean levels that comprise the remainder of the winery lie buried eleven metres beneath the ground. Two levels can be viewed from an upper walkway. The lowest, roofed level houses the red wine maturation cellar, with the winery’s buried tower configuration maximising the natural insulation provided underground. It also allows for the gentlest possible handling of the wine by making use of gravity flow wherever practical.

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