A Gay-Owned South African Wine Estate? Yes Please.

We had just spent the weekend in the Franschhoek Valley, located over an hour drive from Cape Town. We had stayed in a stunning little hotel that was best known for its restaurant. The days were spent in private tastings at different wineries and the nights were spent trying to figure out how to pack the bottles of wine we had purchased throughout the day. We were having so much fun and loving everything about our hotel in the hills that we made the decision to stay an extra night. Sadly for us, the property was completely booked up, so after a few glasses of wine, we began an online search for a hotel room. It wasn’t long before we found a hotel with a similar feel just down the road, and thankfully, there happened to be availability.

Upon our arrival the next day, we were greeted by a lovely gentleman at the front door of the estate. We left our bags with him and got back in the car to drive across the grounds to the tasting room, as it was ready to close and we didn’t want to miss out on the wines. This was the only time I actually drove while in South Africa, as we were on private grounds and there were no other cars nearby. I wasn’t really keen on driving on the opposite side of the road, seated on the opposite side of the vehicle, so I figured I’d take my chance on the dirt road, holding the freshly poured welcome glass of wine we received at check-in. So essentially I was drinking and driving, but the stretch of road was only about 300 feet long between the estate and the tasting room so…it was all in good fun.

Inside the tasting room, two pleasant characters greeted us and immediately began to pour wine, most likely because they were ready to close up, although I’m sure we can attribute their actions to hospitality as well. Returning back to the home, we spent the evening with in-room massages, but since there was only one masseuse available on short notice, we took turns. As I spent my time waiting in the main living space, I sat on the couch with a glass of red wine from the estate and glanced up at this massive painting hanging over the archway to the dining room. It was of a pier with a Ruby’s Diner at the end of it. I questioned why any South African artist would first of all paint a Ruby’s Diner but then realized I had actually been to that exact diner in the painting. This was a painting of Huntington Beach Pier in Southern California with the famous circular Ruby’s Diner at the end of it. I had grown up spending many days and nights at this spot, and my mind was blown by seeing it in a small luxury hotel in the middle of South Africa.

My curiosity was piqued so I began exploring a bit more, admiring the artwork, which led me to a gallery just outside the main house (although the house was filled with art as well). This wasn’t just a hotel or winery, this was an art museum, too. Back inside, I noticed some family photos and with closer inspection, I realized the owners of this impressive luxury country home/hotel/winery/gallery were a gay couple. Now it all started to make more sense – The cute young (most likely gay) man in the tasting room, the curated art collection, the pristine state of the home and the exceptionally trained staff.

I brought it up to our host, the same man who greeted us and checked us in, and he confirmed my hunch. He then spent a fair amount of time talking about how wonderful the owners and their children were, a lovely tribute to his bosses who happened to be away on an extended holiday. I’m not sure what it was exactly, and maybe it was a combination of everything, including the wine, but I suddenly fell more in love with Holden Manz Country Home and I didn’t want to do anything more than just enjoy the property and the calm surroundings, including the picturesque pond that dominated the front entrance. But alas, our time there was short. I’ve never been one to purposefully seek out a gay-owned hotel, so finding this one and loving it so much even before finding out who owned it, really made it the discovery that much more special.


More About Holden Manz

Located in the southernmost corner of the Franschhoek Valley, nestled in the embrace of its spectacular mountains, the 22 hectare Holden Manz Wine Estate is between the Franschhoek River and Stony Brook at 300 meters above sea level. Offering 5 spacious suites fitted with only the best and most lavish items, alongside beautiful views of the rolling lawns, vineyards, upper-Franschhoek Valley and mountains beyond, a sense of tranquil prosperity greets guests on arrival. The grounds’ extensive collection of contemporary South African art will calm your soul and re-invigorate your senses.

David Duran

David Duran has traveled to all seven continents and more than 70 countries during his span as a world traveler who writes words.


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