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Barn / Farm / Ranch
A South African Farm Fresh Garden Getaway
Cortnie Fausner
by Cortnie Fausner

Inspired by the mythical gardens of Babylon, this farm hotel spanning eight acres, would make even Adam and Eve feel right at home. With over 300 plants, the fruit and vegetables are harvested for guests to munch on in the restaurant (there will be absolutely no need to count calories here.) You will find yourself meandering around the farm and discovering berries, bees, ducks, chickens, a prickly pear maze, a HUMAN size bird nest and even gravity fed waterways. Yep, the gardens are watered the same way they would have been 300 years ago. There is no need to reinvent the wheel right?!

 

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The Locale

Vicki Grafton is a fine art event photographer who recently traveled to South Africa to visit this farm fresh wonderland. The hypnotizing hotel hotspot is the perfect setting for an abundance and variety of gatherings - envision garden parties, getaways, retreats and workshops with luxury accommodations and delicious organic fare. As lovely as the Cape Dutch farm with it's sprawling vineyards is, we always ask one of the most important questions.. Vicki, how will the guests get here?!

The winery and farm is located in the Drakenstein Valley of South Africa. Its surreal setting is in the heart of the Cape Winelands, surrounded by two dramatic mountains, yet conveniently only 30 minutes or so from the bustle of Cape Town. This location allows for easy access to all the vineyards in Stellenbosch, Paarl, Franschhoek, and the key attractions around Cape Town.  

 

 

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The Scoop

Babylonstoren is said to be one of the best-preserved farms originally built in the Cape Dutch tradition. Throughout the property you will meander past whitewashed walls, thatched roofs, and detailed gables taking you back to a different time. The main manor house dates back to 1777 and many of the farms structures date back to 1690.

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Eats & Drinks 

A great venue also has delicious dining options for you and your guests right? Vicki DISHED the scoop on her fantastic farm fare.

Their renowned restaurant, Babel, offers a farm fresh daily menu served in the modern and light filled dinning room that was originally a cowshed or outside in their courtyard overlooking the gardens and nearby mountain.-  Vicki Grafton Photography

 

 

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Favorite Element of Venue

My favorite place on the farm was the heart of Babylonstoren, their gardens. The historic farm buildings are enveloped by 8 acres of manicured flower, fruit and organic vegetables with lovely walking paths perfect for wandering, some even paved with hundreds of peach pits. It was fun to see what produce was in season and then have it served on their unique farm fresh daily menus. - Vicki Grafton Photography

 

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 The Highlight Reel 

It's always good to find out what an event industry pro thinks are the standout features of a gathering locale. Vicki has quite the long love list of favorite finds - always a good sign!

We visited Babylonstoren in late August at the tail end of their winter season. We spontaneously spent our last two days there after a week on Safari near Kruger National Park in the north and a short stay at a loft in the heart of historic Cape Town. During the mornings at Babylonstoren we took our time to wandered around their sprawling organic garden, exploring edible and medicinal plants, taking a closer look at their adorable bug hotel that’s used as a natural pesticide and spending a little time in unique outdoor rooms like their bamboo lined bird-watching space with a human-sized bird nest and their mulberry mediation garden with two resident hedgehogs.

 

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In the afternoons, we took advantage of complimentary bikes to tour the rest of their 500 acres farm with winding paths, some over ponds, and amazing views of the Cape Winelands in all directions. We strolled along their bright orange clivia lined stream and at the end lounged among some of their mature trees gazing up at their beautiful canopies.

 

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The Design

We all love a well designed gathering place, and Babylonstoren takes 'pretty' to a whole new level. We are quite certain that even the most persnickety of party-goers would fall in love with the beauty here.

I was totally smitten with the Cape Dutch architecture and their renovations which mixed light filled modern white spaces with century old exteriors was fresh and inspiring. I also loved how their menu at Babel is largely organized by color that was a tasty and unique design element. We couldn’t leave with out purchasing one of their cookbooks to inspire us in our own kitchen. - Vicki Grafton Photography

 

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Pillow Talk

Whether your guests are locals or are traveling far and wide, you want to ensure that they will have a great night of counting sheep in their sleep. Nobody likes a grumpy uncle at the wedding or event.

Their 12 guest suites are stylishly renovated cottages that originally housed farm workers and now consist of clean white washed walls, modern furnishings, beautiful claw-foot tubs, heated floors, glass walls to let light in and overlook the gardens and vineyard, and open air hearths which we made use of every night during our stay. - Vicki

 

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Let's Talk Events

Because Vicki Grafton is a seasoned pro in the wedding world, we wanted to find out what types of events she envisioned taking place at this charming Cape Dutch Farm.

Babylonstoren would be a perfect venue for many types of events from rehearsal dinners to weddings. It would also be perfect for a brunches, group retreats and workshops using a combination of their white studio space for meetings, classroom space, or intimate private dining and then taking advantage of their nearby gardens and outdoor farm spaces for photo shoots or al fresco dinning with close friends. I feel the event possibilities are endless. -   Vicki Grafton Photography

 

 

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Bonus  

Every venue needs to be experienced to find out the little extra perks and hidden secrets on the property. Babylonstoren is certainly no exception. With all of the acreage, nooks, crannies and sprawling gardens this magical slice of heaven is an adventurers dream.

On our 2nd day my husband and I took some time to lounge with some complimentary wine at their boathouse and even took a canoe out on their dam. For lunches we enjoyed light meals at their Greenhouse café where we sampled unique color coded juices and nibbled on garden fresh salad, wood-fired breads and handcrafted meets and cheeses. Each night we were spoiled by a unique farm to table 3-course dinner at Babel and to end the night, my hubby started a fire in the hearth and we curled up in our cottage and just enjoyed being unplugged. 

 

 

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Photos:  Vicki Grafton Photography  | Venue: Babylonstoren 

 

MEET THE CORRESPONDENT

Vicki Grafton
CORRESPONDENT
Vicki Grafton
COMPANY
Vicki Grafton Photography
TITLE
Photographer
LOCATION
Richmond, Virginia

Vicki Grafton is a fine art film-wedding photographer based in Washington DC. With a style best described as light, airy and natural, she has a keen eye for details and adores capturing her client’s unique stories. Using a film based approach she strives to document sincere moments and create timeless images that will be cherished for generations. While based on the East Coast she travels worldwide for destination weddings. - Website

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