Steenberg Farm: A historic Cape property

Steenberg Farm, located approximately 30 minutes from Cape Town’s city centre, has been renovated into the luxurious Steenberg Hotel & Spa.

It was the Cape’s first farm, established in 1682, and today, it is a complete leisure destination in idyllic Constantia Valley, with a rich history and heritage.

“At Steenberg Hotel & Spa, we strive to offer transformational and inspiring experiences to our guests through all touchpoints we have with our consumers,” says Neilen Tolmay, Marketing Manager at Steenberg Estate.

Steenberg history

The Steenberg Estate, originally known as the Zwaanswyk, was granted to Catharina Ustings in 1688 and was the first farm in the Western Cape.


Its Cape Dutch homestead was erected in about 1740, and its verandah and outbuildings were added at the beginning of the 19th century. It was declared a National Monument under old National Monument Council (NMC) legislation on 7 October 1983.

Despite a twist of fate preventing its interior overhaul, the new owner of this gracious Steenberg Estate manor created something beautiful.

Steenberg Estate has known its fair share of gutsy women. As a lone widow of 22, Catharina Ustings Ras, the first owner of ‘the farm below the stone Mountain’, boarded a sailing ship just 10 years after the arrival in South Africa of Jan van Riebeeck.

She made the perilous journey from her home in Lübeck on the Baltic Coast of Germany, to the furthest tip of Africa. What she found when she arrived was certainly no land of milk and honey.

Instead, it was a fierce, wild place; 20 years and five husbands later, the fiercely independent Catharina convinced Cape Governor Simon van der Stel to grant her the mandate ‘to cultivate, to plough, to sow and also to possess’ a 25-morgen portion of land at the foot of Steenberg – and thus was born the first farm in the Constantia Valley.

Hotel property

Tolmay explains that after other ownerships, Steenberg remained the property of the Louw family until 1990. It was then purchased by the Johannesburg Consolidated Investments (JCI), and re-developed into the vineyard and hotel it is today.

“The hotel originally opened on 1 July 1996 as the Steenberg Country Hotel. Graham Beck bought Steenberg Hotel and Steenberg Winery in April 2005.”

According to Tolmay, the estate has since flourished into a luxury destination, with the 5-star Steenberg Hotel & Spa, two fine restaurants, an award-winning winery and a championship 18-hole golf course.

The original Manor House has been included in the hotel’s inventory and offers five rooms and suites, he explains.

“We celebrate our heritage through the preservation of our history in the form of antiques and artwork dating back to 1682. And with regard to our guests, every thought, every detail, every whim, is carefully considered and perfectly protected. A stay with us is personal and luxury personified,” points out Tolmay.

Furthermore, he says that guests can enjoy an exceptional cuisine at the two signature restaurants: Tryn, which caters for contemporary dining, and Bistro Sixteen82, which offers bistro-style fare.

Award-winning wines

Steenberg vineyards produces some of the finest award-winning Sauvignon Blanc and Méthode Cap Classique in South Africa, notes Tolmay.

“Our wines are made to express the unique terroir which we have at Steenberg.”

Situated at the foothills of the Table Mountain National Park, with a cool maritime climate and unique soil types, Steenberg strives to create wines with a sense of place, best representing what the vineyards give us, points out Tolmay.

Flagship wines include Catharina (red blend), Black Swan Sauvignon Blanc, Nebbiolo and Semillon.

“Catharina had a very colourful and mesmerising life. We aim to celebrate the legacy that Catharina Ras started in 1682, being courageous, determined, and inspired,” adds Tolmay.

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Edited by Gudrun Kaiser

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Safrea or its members.


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