Bellingham Homestead: A Gem in Franschhoekby Danielle Terblanche on 29 March 2018
The smell of crushed grapes fills the air as I drive up to Bellingham Homestead across the Anthonij Rupert Wine Estate in Franschhoek, and I know that I am in wine country! I’m surrounded by lush vineyards and the towering Groot Drakenstein Mountains create the perfect backdrop for what I’m about to witness at the historical Bellingham Homestead. TravelGround recently visited this remarkable establishment and we can’t wait to show you what we discovered here at the foot of the mountain!
It’s not often that you stumble upon a place with a rich and beautiful history such as Bellingham Homestead and find that it’s still being enjoyed and celebrated. One of the owners, Mrs Podlashuk, had a dream that the estate will be a ‘gift to the nation’ after she passed away 15 years ago. The estate is run by a Charity Trust who markets it as self-catering accommodation and a function venue. The income generated from the accommodation and functions goes toward the upkeep of the estate and the financial commitment to the various charities that they support. It was important to the late Mrs Podlashuk that the estate is accessible to people from all walks of life and this is accomplished by inviting guests to stay at the establishment and thereby funding the various charities.
The History of Bellingham Homestead
Bellingham Homestead is the birthplace of the famous Bellingham Wines that dates back to 1693 when the first vines were planted on the estate. Bernard and Fredagh Podlashuk bought the dilapidated farm in August 1943 and started their journey of restoring the old manor house, gardens and vineyards. What is interesting is that they got assistance from 13 Italian prisoners of war to help them replant the vineyards and rehabilitate the estate, while gathering knowledge about farming and winemaking from countries like Germany and France. Together they created a beautiful piece of history in Franschhoek that can still be appreciated to this day!
The manor house was Mr and Mrs Podlashuk’s home and today it’s a National Monument ─ everything is the way it was when Mrs Podlashuk still lived in the manor house 15 years ago and guests can visit the museum to learn more about the history of the estate.
A Stay at Bellingham Homestead
A stay at Bellingham Homestead is the ideal choice if you want to experience a piece of history while making new memories in the gorgeous Franschhoek Valley. The accommodation comprises 5 self-catering units and it can be booked together to accommodate a group ─ the perfect option if you want to attend one of the many festivals in Franschhoek. The communal swimming pool in the garden is the ideal place for guests to gather and enjoy a relaxing afternoon.
The historic manor house and original wine cellar is set in a picturesque garden of 5,5 hectares among the vineyards. The lush garden creates the perfect venue for intimate weddings or functions and the wine cellar can be used as an indoor venue.
The Central Location
The Bellingham Homestead is situated approximately 10 km from the Franschhoek Village and it’s surrounded by renowned wine farms. The magnificent Franschhoek Valley is the food and wine capital of the country and it’s one of the most popular wine valleys in the world! It’s the ideal place to spend a couple of days if you want to sharpen your knowledge of wine or explore some of the farms. The Franschhoek Village itself is a culinary heaven with many award-winning and fine-dining restaurants, coffee shops and cafés that are definitely worth a visit. After you’ve tickled your tastebuds with your gastronomic experience you can wander the streets and browse the beautiful art galleries and quaint curio shops in the main road.
Franschhoek hosts many different festivals, like The Franschhoek Cellar Harvest Feast, Franschhoek Literary Festival, Franschhoek Bastille Festival, Franschhoek Uncorked Festival and the Franschhoek Cap Classique & Champagne Festival, and sport events throughout the year. Whether you’re attending one of the festivals or you’re just looking for central accommodation in the winelands, Bellingham Homestead is the place for you! It’s central to other wine routes like Paarl, Stellenbosch and Wellington that are only 20 minutes away for more exploration and Cape Town is only 40 minutes away for an exciting trip to the Mother City. It’s even a convenient base if you wish to explore the Overberg region, which is a mere hour’s drive from the estate!
A visit to Bellingham Homestead will leave you in awe of the late owners’ determination to transform it into a gift for the nation! It’s also a place that will leave you with an appreciation for historic estates that you can visit and leave feeling inspired. Book your stay today and go see for yourself — it truly is the kind of destination where you can ‘step back in time to a place where new memories are made.’
Feature image: Bellingham Homestead (Facebook)