Once the Editor in Chief of South Africa's Elle Decoration, Karen Roos now surrounds herself with chickens, ripening grape vines and views that will rival some of the best in the world.
Owner of Babylonstoren, an idyllic working vineyard, restaurant and hotel located in the heart of South Africa's wine region, just a short drive away from Cape Town, Karen knows a thing or two about this beautiful region. We caught up with her to discover recommendations for a break in wine country, finding out where's best to sample the finest tipples, shop for antiques and hike. Read on to discover the sun-drenched lands of Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl.
What is so unique about Babylonstoren?
Every aspect of Babylonstoren is informed by the ever-changing tapestry and botanical diversity of the garden.
If you were to sum up the Stellenbosch Wine Region in three words, what would they be?
Quality Divers. Must see.
Other than Babylonstoren, can you recommend some vineyards that use interesting techniques when making wine?
Vrede & Lust where they use gravitation to move wine from one tank to the next.
The main buildings at Babylonstoren are built in the Cape Dutch style. Where else can you go to see this style of architecture, unique to the region?
Traditional style of architecture can be found all over the Franschhoek, Stellenbosch and Paarl areas.
What’s the best way to start your day?
Breakfast at Babel restaurant. Simple, generous and honest – fresh, seasonal food that is closely tied to its origins in the garden. With good coffee and a good British Newspaper.
Your top three hiking locations?
Up the Babylonstoren ‘koppie’; the conical hill where the name comes from. A walk on the Seapoint Promenade and Simonsberg amongst the Fynbos.
Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for…?
The Norval Foundation in Tokay.
When visiting the wine region, don’t forget to pack…?
A panama hat.
Let’s visit Stellenbosch. What’s your favourite place to grab a morning coffee? Casual lunch?
A cup of Rooibos tea with scrumptious scones under the majestic oaks at The Greenhouse at Babylonstoren.
Wine and food aside, what else has the region to offer?
Space, silence and time.
Is it a good place for antique hunting?
Yes. Explore Koöperasie stories, Barn & Werf and Masquerade in the Simondium Franschhoek valley.
When is the best season to visit?
The experienced and energetic head gardener at Prieuré d’Orsan, Gilles Guillot, has this beautiful saying that a garden is like someone you love – there is something beautiful about them in every season. It also depends on what you would like to see when you visit: blossoms in August, clivias in September, blooming rose towers in November or berries, plums and lotus flowers in December.
Don’t forget to visit…?
Dylan Lewis sculpture garden in Paradyskloof Stellenbosch.
Avoid coming for too short a stay!