Hartford House

The Home of Good Conversation, Fine Wine and Classic Horses.

Award-winning hotel and restaurant situated at Summerhill Stud on the picturesque KwaZulu-Natal Midlands Meander, South Africa.

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De Grendel Wines : An Obsession with Quality

De Grendel Wine Farm
(Photos : De Grendel Wines)

De Grendel Wine Farm
Just 20 minutes from Cape Town

The Farm

Michelle Dutton Assistant General Manager

Michelle Dutton
Assistant General Manager

It's not often a horse farm can say that they have something in common with a wine farm, but theDe Grendel Wine Farm, tucked away in the shadow of Table Mountain, is far more than just a wine farm.

In years gone by the farm was an Arab thoroughbred stud farm; which makes us wonder how the Arab horses of yesteryear might compare to the Summerhill thoroughbreds of today. It's nice to know that there is common ground between the two estates and I'm sure our guests will find something particularily special in each of the De Grendel wines.

Today the Graaff family breed award winning sheep and cattle and of course produce award winning wine. The farm is now recognised as 'the' home to Holstein stud cattle, sheep, grain and vines.

Charles Hopkins, Cellar Master, and Elzette du Preez, Winemaker, compliment the team that has brought us the amazing wines that we have all come to know as being part of the De Grendel family.

Charles Hopkins, Cellar Master

Charles Hopkins is the inaugural winemaker and one of South Africa's most highly regarded winemakers both in this country and abroad. He is also a member of the 36-member Cape Winemakers Guild. His list of successes and awards includes numerous double golds at the Veritas Awards. He studied Cellar Technology at Elsenburg Agricultural College and has worked in California, his beloved Bordeaux and a number of well-known South African farms.

Elzette du Preez, Winemaker

Elzette du Preez spent seven years at an established South African wine estate working in marketing as well as the cellar. She then formally qualified as a winemaker from Elsenburg Agricultural College, Stellenbosch. In 2005 she received the Dux Student award for Cellar Technology as well as the Elsenburg Dux Diploma. She worked a harvest season in California, toured the major French wine regions, as well as Marlborough, New Zealand, focusing specifically on Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.

Wine Notes

Here at Hartford House we host two De Grendel wines on our wine list - the Winifred and the Viognier:


A white wine blend that has us fascinated. Semillon (39% of the blend) - Viognier (18% of the blend) - Chardonnay (43% of the blend); this is a blend of the new and exciting and the tried and tested. We really enjoy the citrus and tropical under notes that you enjoy from the Semillon, while the Viognier brings dried peaches and apricots to the nose, and finishing off with the butteriness and structure of the Chardonnay. This is an easy drinking wine as well as a foodie wine. Dishes served at Hartford that would be complimented by this wine are the Salmon Terrine, Mushroom Soup and Caramelised Onion Soup.


We all love a good and exciting wine, especially with the South African wine market being as broad as it. Viognier is still quite a new wine on our market and is being discovered more and more. Although dry, this wine has a quiet and balanced fruitiness that comes through in dried apricots, peaches and pineapples. This wine is delicious complimenting our Smoked Salmon Terrine.

While we may not be able to share with you a direct view of Table Mountain, through De Grendel Wines we bring you the spirit of Mother Nature's Cape Town wonder... along with some excellent Hartford service and authentic cuisine.

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A visit to Abingdon Wine Estate

Abington Wine Estate, KwaZulu-Natal Midlands
(Photos : Jane Smorthwaite)

Abingdon Wine Estate
KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, South Africa

Abingdon Wine Estate is located in the picturesque KwaZulu-Natal Midlands at Lions River, a mere 30 minute drive from Hartford House. Late last year the Hartford House 'Front of House' team had the opportunity to tour this amazing wine estate.

Abingdon is a single vineyard boutique wine producer, which for most might not mean much, but for those who are able to accomplish this, it is quite an achievement... especially in KwaZulu-Natal.

We were warmly welcomed by Jane and Ian Smorthwaite, who purchased the property in 2000 and planted their first vines in 2004, yielding their first harvest in 2007. Ian, a very passionate wine maker, took us through the vineyards explaining the different vines - Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Chardonnay, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as providing an understanding of the vine cycles and seasons. Some staff members were horrified at the thought of starting work at 4am for harvest time! After our walk through the vineyard we were shown around the 'cellar' where all the production happens. And what a treat this was; with stainless steel vats and wooden barrels lining the walls and an explanation of the cooling belts and fermentation processes.

We then moved down to their wine bar, where on weekends they serve a variety of meals and platters, as well as a little dessert... and their fantastic wines. Here we had an opportunity to taste the labours of their hard work. Abington wines are 'old world style' and the difference is quite remarkable, the nose is shy and not upfront as in the case of 'new world' wines and the palate offers cool fruit and minerality.

Abingdon Estate has a few select outlets, hotels and restaurants that are able to purchase their wines for resale. Hartford House has been offered the opportunity to stock the Abingdon Chardonnay and Viognier.

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