Guest Accommodation at Vergelegen Revisited
Introducing John Jacob
The historical Cape Wine Estate, Vergelegen (meaning far away), was settled in 1700 when Willem Adriaan Van der Stel, took ownership of
30 000 hectares at the foothills of the Hottentots Holland Mountains in the Cape. Over the centuries, Vergelegen has belonged to various great explorers, visionaries and private families. This world class Estate, only 30 minutes drive from Cape Town, is presently under the ownership of Anglo American, who purchased the property in 1987. Numerous projects, including, clearing invasive alien vegetation, restoring the homestead, re-establishing the vineyards and the building of a sunken hilltop winery designed by architects Associes of Paris was undertaken by the Group. Today, Vergelegen confidently competes with top wineries throughout the world.
Famous too, at Vergelegen, are the 320-year-old Camphor Trees (now National Monuments) seen below. The gardens are extensive and beautiful and really worth a visit.
The project of taking on the renovation of the Guesthouse, reserved for dignitaries who visit South Africa, was given to South African designer, John Jacob. Over the years, important visitors including Queen Elizabeth, Nelson Mandela, the Clintons, Baron Eric de Rothschild, Prince Bernard of the Netherlands, Sir Edmund Hillary, Lord Sainsbury and many others have been entertained there and it was important to find a designer who would sympathise with the historical significance of the house. “A good design is about letting the architectural language of the building speak” says Jacob. “I know it sounds like a cliché, but it’s true. Everything you do in a house – in fact, on an entire property – must be an ordered, rational response to the architectural language of a building”.
John Jacob Zwiegelaar launched John Jacob Interiors in 2005, in Cape Town and today, he has clients all over the world. Yacht interiors and a portfolio of work for Gulfstream in the USA form part of his expansive repertoire. Projects also include Graham Beck Wine Estate and numerous private homes. For the Vergelegen homestead, Jacob spent weeks researching this project.
The extensive vegetable gardens which supply the restaurants.
The magnificent estate of Vergelegen has survived it’s many owners. While some of the generational custodians added beauty and value, there were some unfortunate mistakes made by others which needed to be rectified. As a result of the considerable investment by Amfarms (Anglo American), Vergelegen now attracts some 50 000 visitors annually to enjoy the beautifully restored house, octagonal winery and gardens.
All photos of the interiors from John Jacob’s website.