FOODSTUFF: French flair at a Stellenbosch winery’s new bistro


Our family has been investing in wine property since 1783. My great-grandfather then returned from World War One at a young age. He and his brother bought a few Bordeaux properties in France, including a part of Second Growth Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, Third Growth Château Palmer and Cru Borgeois Château Siran.

a_glenelly449.jpg My grandmother, May-Eliane de Lencquesaing, inherited a majority share in Pichon in 1978 at the age of 53. It was tough. The farm was struggling to pay wages. Then we had a fantastic Bordeaux 1982 wine vintage. American critic Robert Parker rated the wine 100 points. The international wine market opened.

In 2003, my grandmother founded Glenelly Estate in Stellenbosch. In 2007, Château Pichon was sold to Roederer Champagne and she devoted her time to the development of Glenelly.

She is now 91, living in a house in Bordeaux and still very involved.

23_tuna_tartare_and_glenelly_estate_reserve_chardonnay.jpg My grandmother liked Glenelly because it was a blank canvas. Previously it was a fruit farm, so she could create quality wine from scratch. She briefed winemaker Luke O’Cuinneagain to create wines made to age, showing power, elegance and balance.

She built a very modern gravity-flow cellar, which she could not have done in Bordeaux, with all its wine traditions and restrictions. When we built the wine tasting room upstairs we created the bar counter from the farm’s Cape granite stones.

Creating The Vine Bistro was a big project. We started in summer 2015 and opened in November 2016. We spoke about the importance of food and wine pairing; we wanted a place to taste the wines properly and also to bring in a bit of France in the food – chef Christophe Dehosse was the ideal choice.

17_the_vine_bistro_at_glenelly_interior_2.jpg We wanted guests to look at the view from outside but have shade from pergolas. In the bistro you will find the Drucker chairs. They are made in a small village near Paris at Maison Drucker. They are traditional Parisian bistro chairs and the only ones worth having.


It opens outdoors to vineyard views, with water features and a pétanque court. Some walls have white metro tiles above leather banquettes; one is painted ruby red. There are filament lamps, bare wooden tables and brass details.

The Glass Collection wine range includes approachable, delicious Syrah, and promising Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon wines. The Glenelly Estate Reserve Chardonnay and respective red blend are a worthy step up, while the Lady May red blend is a beautiful wine to set aside for a few years.

Chef Dehosse offers a flexible single-page menu. “There’s a strong sense of a traditional French family,” he says. “I cook what I’m comfortable with and what I like to eat.”

Bistro starters include tuna tartare with crisp vegetable salad or chilled red pepper soup livened by chorizo and octopus. Mains are classic and fairly uncomplicated: fillet, béarnaise and pommes frites, to a hearty West Coast mussels and fish bouillabaisse reduction with haricot beans. Pork cheeks braised in herbs and red wine tastes comforting.

25_caneles_pineapple.jpg Dehosse gives the traditional chewy Bordeaux canelé bake a twist, serving it with rooibos ice-cream and caramelised pineapple.

THE VINE BISTRO, Glenelly Estate, Stellenbosch. Open lunch and dinner Mon to Sun. Tel 021-809-6444, Glenelly

A version of this appeared in Business Day HomeFront in January 2017