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December 11, 2013

Wine Gets an Artistic Edge in South Africa

By Ingrid Skjong | Hotels

Wine Gets an Artistic Edge in South Africa
Ross Hillier

Ellerman House, one of South Africa’s preeminent boutique hotels (the recent Africa issue of DEPARTURES gave it a nod), has much to offer its guests. But one major highlight has finally been put on proper display.

“Up to now we’ve been committed to sharing five things: our location, our gardens, true South African hospitality, cuisine and art,” says Lindsy Marais, sales and marketing manager. “The one aspect that was missing was showing and sharing our incredible South African wine collection.”

The collection—7,500 bottles strong—is now part of an all-encompassing wine destination comprised of a gallery tasting room and the brand-new three-bedroom Villa Two (from $4,100), the second villa on the property.

Amid the cutting-edge architecture and design, guests will find a Champagne cellar, a maturation center and a wine library. An interactive app can help with navigation, and there’s even a brandy tasting lounge for those interested in the more spirited side of wine.

But the focus is on the natural aspects of the surrounding land and the use of similarly organic materials. A spiraling, carbon-fiber wine rack (designed by industrial designer Brian Steinhobel) is a riff on a corkscrew, curving more than 19 feet in length with a capacity to hold 1,500 bottles. The South African–granite floors (polished for a raw-yet-refined look) are inset with copper strips in a design inspired by Fibonacci’s golden-ratio theory. A wall of soil samples, culled from a hundred farms and arranged in rammed-earth formations within copper frames, stands as a map of the area's terroir.

“It was a massive collaboration between artists, artisans and materials,” says Marais. “The brief to the design team was to come up with something that has never been done before, and they managed to do just that.” 180 Kloof Rd., Bantry Bay; 27-21/430-3200; ellerman.co.za.