If what we have heard is correct, Morgenster Wine and Olive Estate in Somerset West is set to become a restaurant star next year, with a Michelin star or two Chef and TV star getting involved in the development of a fine dining restaurant, part of a redevelopment of the property taking place over the next thirteen months. It would be South Africa’s first restaurant with an involvement of such a high calibre chef and restaurant owner.
Recently appointed Morgenster Managing Director Judi Dyer would not confirm the name of the chef, and said that the project is in its development phase. The chef’s media consultant has not yet responded to our request for confirmation of his involvement in the new Morgenster restaurant.
A media release issued by Morgenster owner Giulio Bertrand announced the commencement of his long planned hospitality phase for the more than 300 year old property, which will see Morgenster offering accommodation, fine dining, and a Café and Deli experience to visitors. ‘After I bought Morgenster in 1992 as a retirement home and had restored the historical buildings, I realised that I owned a wine farm with magnificent terroir. I put retirement on hold and went to France to judge whether Morgenster could produce wines in line with the best from Bordeaux. There I was introduced to Pierre Lurton of Chateau Cheval Blanc who I invited to Morgenster. He was as inspired as I was about the farm’s potential and we began establishing vineyards of Bordeaux varieties and building a cellar. After 15 years of Pierre consulting to our local winemaking team and being on our Board of Directors, Morgenster’s cellar of marvellously aging Bordeaux styled red wines has earned acclaim internationally and locally’.
‘Being Italian and accustomed to having olives growing with vines, I established over 50 hectares of olive groves for table olives and extra virgin olive oil. Morgenster’s oil has received the world’s highest accolade of “Best blended olive oil in the world, 2006 L’Extravergine”. It has also received 97 points out of a possible 100 in the last four editions of the Flos Olei Guide to the World’s Best Extra Virgin Olive Oils, making it one of the top seven oils in the world for consistent quality at that level over years 2010 – 2013. While I was establishing the working farm to the quality I wanted, I had the idea of developing a second phase to give visitors more opportunity to enjoy the Morgenster experience. We are therefore creating an inside/outside café and deli from which we will serve light meals, situated next to our wine and olive tasting room. Secondly, we are renovating and converting the existing cottages on the Estate into luxury accommodation offering beautiful views of our vines and olive groves‘, he added.
Where the development becomes really interesting is what Mr Bertrand has planned for the building which housed Sofia’s restaurant, which Chef Craig Cormack closed in May. He writes: ‘Finally there will be changes to Field House which is in our meadow facing the tasting room. The building will be remodelled in line with the requirements of our new fine dining partner and will offer lunches and dinners. We are currently in high level discussions with a family of world renowned chefs, and expect to announce shortly who our dining partner will be for Morgenster’s Restaurant and Café.
While The Test Kitchen and The Tasting Room have done well for South Africa in making the top 100 list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants, the planned Morgenster restaurant will offer superlative star dining of an international standard as of September 2014, adding weight to Somerset West as a new up and coming gastronomic destination, with fine dining Camphors at Vergelegen and Waterkloof, and comfortable cuisine at Stables at Vergelegen and The Millhouse Kitchen at Lourensford already attracting custom.
Morgenster Wine & Olive Estate, Vergelegen Avenue, off Lourensford Road, Somerset West. Tel (021) 852-1738 www.morgenster.co.za Twitter: @Morgenster_SA
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: WhaleCottage