Remember that lunch I was telling you about at Schoon de Companje the other day, well it’s wonderful how Stellenbosch can really take you by surprise sometimes as you walk through the seemingly impregnable oak lined boulevards of this demi-city with a sense of nostalgia and awe at the innovation that a sleepy town can possess. My friend and I, having crisscrossed up and down the city and nearly giving up on finding a spot for sundowners (other the usual haunts of the past) saw us turn a corner (literally and figuratively) and there is was. Having been open for nearly two years now, it had taken me nearly two years to discover this secreted temple of Dionysus.

Well thought out and styled in a country library feel, Bartinney Wine and Champagne Bar in De Oude Bank annexe invites you in with their heavy leather couches, dark wood panelling and an exquisite chandelier made from old vines that make you feel like you’ve stepped into a different century. With added modern touches and a terrace overlooking the bustle of Bird Street, it has its own European feel without losing local pride and small-town charm.

Wine bars are an extension of the Vineyard Tasting Rooms, often soulless hubs for mass-transit consumers but on the tree-lined streets of central Stellenbosch this the boutique wine cellar brings to life the vineyard located on the Helshoogte Pass with their wines, bubbles and selection of French Champagne in an intimately relaxed environment.  As we sat there the crowd was a perfect mix of students, city slickers from Jozi and the fashionable hipster pretty young things that seem to infest this town.

It’s the ideal setting to familiarise yourself with the estate’s three main cultivars, and the knowledgeable and friendly service staff are on hand to give any advice which you may require (especially after a few glasses of bubbles). The boutique private cellar produces a fresh Sauvignon Blanc, rich yet fruity Chardonnay and smashable Cabernet Sauvignon. Purchase one of these three by the glass, by the bottle, or the case if you have a long drive back to Cape Town like we did.

We, of course, fancied up to a few glasses of the Brut Savage Méthode Cap Classique and I being me tucked into a locally and ethically sourced charcuterie and cheese platter (the three choices of platters are olives, biltong and charcuterie (all produced from the same kitchens as Schoon de Companje so you know the quality and freshness are guaranteed). Favourites Dom Pérignon, Louis Roederer and Cristal were available but these days we tend to leave the bubbles for glamorous occasions back in the city. As we do the selection of craft beer also available.

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