Eye-catching Cavalli redefines Cape winelands architecture

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As you tour the South African winelands, chances are you’ll spend much of your time admiring the traditional Cape Dutch architecture typical of many local estates. But at Cavalli Wine and Stud Farm, there’s little room for tradition.

Driving through the impressive entranceway, an imposing equine statue with vineyards beyond hints at the twin passions of the family that crafted this estate from a barren hillside in just a few short years. The dramatic private stables stand proud to the right, framed by views out to the Simonsberg and Helderberg Mountains. But soon enough your gaze is drawn to the striking restaurant, gallery and event space on the modest hilltop.

The first Green Building-certified restaurant and exhibition space in South Africa, it’s little surprise Cavalli galloped away as the South African winner of the Architecture & Landscapes category in the Great Wine Capitals Best of Wine Tourism Awards 2016.

While the likes of Château Carbonnieux, the Bordeaux winner of the same category, revel in their history and heritage, the creation of Cavalli “was very much about capitalising on the beauty of the site,” explains Lauren Smith, Managing Director of Cavalli and part of the architectural team that conceptualised the property. “The estate and this building are our way of paying tribute to the location.”

And what a building it is. A structure that is both at home in the landscape and distinct from it. While embracing the winelands views it also stands apart; a proud stallion surveying its domain. Gabions of local stone guard the main entrance, an effect softened by a living wall that blends seamlessly into the natural vegetation.

Alongside the sleek underground tasting room the Cavalli gallery showcases a broad spectrum of South African art, but the real magic is in the ground floor Equus restaurant, with its wonderful views over the winelands. Don’t miss the décor details either: lighting by Italian design groups Marset and Foscarini, crockery by Cape Town ceramicist Diana Ferreira and palm swivel chairs by Arper.

Yet the building is only half the charm of Cavalli.

Cavalli Estate Sunken Garden

From the outset the extensive gardens were imagined as a ‘living tapestry’ of indigenous Cape fynbos, specifically chosen to celebrate the estate’s location in the heart of the Cape Floral Kingdom, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Fynbos is also famously waterwise, and sustainability was a key consideration in planning the estate.

“The whole ethos of the estate revolves around sustainability,” explains Smith, who says aspect, design and materials were all carefully chosen to make the building as energy-efficient as possible.

From striking architecture to sustainable innovation and organic vegetable gardens, Cavalli stands apart from other Cape estates. While there’s no shortage of history to discover in the Cape winelands, Cavalli Wine and Stud Farm offers an enigmatic glimpse into the future.