For over 300 years, the signal gun on Hooggelegen Farm has been sounding out across the Durbanville valley. It was originally part of a signal chain installed by the Dutch East India Company to call the Burgher Militia to defend the Cape.

Today it stands guard proudly over the entrance to Ke-Monate, the Boutique Wine Cellar and Restaurant on the farm which is situated at the end of Hooggelegen Road, off Visserhok road (M48), just outside Durbanville.

This signal gun is fired at 12.00 noon on the first Saturday of every month and so far it seems to be doing a good job in keeping the area free from invading armies!

Ryk de Wit, the fourth generation owner of Hooggelegen, enjoys restoring old cannons as well, many of which can be seen lining the restaurant car park.

Although Hooggelegen is one of the oldest family-owned wine farms in Durbanville, it was only in recent years that they started experimenting with producing their own estate wines. Their Shiraz and Sauvignon Blanc have done them proud. These are bottled under the "Signal Gun" label.

In the next couple of months they will be adding a Rose and a lightly wooded Chardonnay to their collection, and a Merlot is on the cards for next year.

Morkel Jacobus (MJ) de Wit and his wife Estani are the 5th generation of the de Wit family to run this historic, scenic farm. 18 months ago they converted an old farm house into a charming restaurant. It is situated alongside an active water spring, and enjoys a panoramic view across the farmlands towards Durbanville.

"We wanted to create a warm friendly atmosphere in which to enjoy the boutique wines of the farm and the wines from some of the other Boutique Wine Estates in Durbanville", explained MJ. "It was also important to us to offer a venue where relaxed, informal food could be served which is also good value for money," Estani added.

They have succeeded in creating a place where friends and families can share a meal together, where sundowners can be enjoyed on the stoep at the end of a busy day, and where special events can be celebrated.

The interesting menu of tapas, wraps and platters, together with daily specials, offers something for everyone. On Wednesday evenings the restaurant goes Italian in theme and cuisine while Chris Swanepoel entertains with contemporary Italian music. On Thursday evenings the theme is Mexican, and Friday evenings between 4 and 7pm is their "Wine-ing Down" time. Rupert Mellor entertains into the evening.

A small, fully equipped conference venue is also available, and the restaurant itself can be booked for functions. One can even arrange to have the cannon fired for your special event. This may be a good way to scare off advancing old age, or other similar invasions in life!

Wine tasting takes place on Fridays and Saturdays in the Tasting Cellar. For a mere R20 the two Signal Gun wines, plus 3 of the Durbanville Boutique wines can be sampled.

A Wine & Dinner Club that meets on the 3rd

Tuesday of every month gives guests a chance to learn about different wines both local and international, under the guidance and instruction of Cape Wine Master Charl van Teijlingen, winemaker of Maison de Teiger.

On the 25th and 26th May, Art & Shiraz Celebration evenings are being held at which the work of local artists will be displayed, a communal meal will be shared, and Chris Swanepoel's music will be enjoyed.

The name "Ke-Monate" means "Dis lekker!" or "That's nice!" in Sotho, which is something you are bound to mumble with contentment through a full mouth as you enjoy your visit here.

Ke-Monate can be contacted at 021 976-7343 for enquiries and bookings. They are open Tuesday – Saturday 9h00 – 22h00 and Sunday 9h00 – 16h00.

For more information about their events go to www.ke-monate.co.za and to find out about other interesting places in the local countryside, visit www.capecountrycalls.co.za.

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