The Perfect Pour

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Vrymansfontein by Vondeling Wines

A working almond farm in the Suid-Agter Paarl area, Vrymansfontein is a historic jewel that has been given a renewed sense of purpose by Vondeling Wines, having recognised this neighbour as a foundling in its own right. Following its winding history, Vrymansfontein now offers a culinary journey in a spectacular setting designed by none other than Source IBA.

The site is a large (260 ha) working farm in the Paarl Cape Winelands, 45 minutes from Cape Town. Established in the late 1600s, the farm was previously home to a series of buildings, some in use, others in various states of disrepair and even vacant. Immediately seeing the potential that lay across the land, the new owners commissioned design firm Source IBA to guide them on a journey of reinventing the space, initially as a tasting facility for a nearby wine estate which they also own, and later as an extensive wine tasting and hospitality destination with a variety of indoor and outdoor dining options.

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Reimaging the Cape Winelands experience

Source IBA worked closely with their associate branding team and the owners to develop a concept that reimagined the ‘South African winelands experience’, keenly focussed on embracing the site’s history in a modern way. Vrymansfontein consists of several distinctive food and beverage spots, including the fine dining restaurant Scape, the alfresco dining and bar area The Tree Bar (complete with five mature trees providing a canopy overhead), and The Tasting Bar, where the client’s Vondeling Wines are showcased and sold. While each has its own design personality, the three function as a cohesive and contemporary whole.

A process in preserving the past

The endeavour not only reimagined the landscape while honouring it; it also opted to include the original central building as a focal point, rather than demolish it. Source IBA’s design direction took its leave from a celebration of existing elements, seen in exposed brickwork and the likes of ‘klompie’ clay bricks on the outdoor deck, taking after what was once used in historical homesteads throughout the country.

The pitch and design decision process was finalised over the course of approximately four months. The process of fitting the space was approximately seven months (with a further two months for finessing and snags) and Source IBA worked closely with many suppliers to custom design and commission a host of elements, including joinery, lighting, furniture, and importantly, the art. The artworks throughout Vrymansfontein are by local artist Rose Williams and consist of a collection of seven large original oil paintings commissioned by Source IBA. The brief to the artist was to depict the views from Vrymansfontein and of other farms that are part of the Vondeling family of farms, thus bringing in the thread of the wines sold at The Tasting Bar.

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For the love of local

Source IBA chose a polished Cretecote finish for the outdoor undercover floors, which celebrates the colour palette and textures of the local surroundings. Oak was the joinery material of choice, from the glass-walled cellar to the slatted timber ceiling inside Scape. For added sensory interest, traditional ‘klompie’ bricks were used in The Tree Bar, while deep green and dark blue tiles line the walls. The client was also passionate about maintaining a strong commitment to sustainability on the farm as a whole, which included the choice of materials sourced and used in the interiors. Source IBA’s response was to work closely with local craftsmen who use materials with traceable journeys, including cork and the oak which features in the joinery and fixtures. A fascinating and much-talked-about element inside Scape is the unusual and impressive trees that make up the canopy. Although the trees are real, the natural light is not consistent, and so the real tree trunks were dressed with preserved eucalyptus leaves – a striking case of the outside being brought indoors with a natural beauty.

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The language of interiors

A stand-out achievement for Source IBA is how the complex brand story of a new era for a centuries-old farm was brought to life so successfully by the interior language. The public response to the interiors and relationship to the view is further testament to the success of the project. However, it wasn’t achieved without its share of challenges. One of the wettest winters in the Western Cape caused delays in the exterior building process, which subsequently caused delays on the interior fit. The last part of the fitting was also completed amidst staff training for the hospitality offerings and other wet work installations, making the process no easy feat.

Uniquely positioned overlooking a serene valley, with Table Mountain dazzling in the distance, the majesty of the landscape informs the design of the interior and exterior dining and tasting experiences. At Vrymansfontein, every detail is infused with and embraces the view, inviting the outdoor surrounds inside for a spectacular affair.

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