“It’s all about this mountain,” says managing director of Quoin Rock, Denis Gaiduk, gesturing at the monolithic Simonsberg Mountain, which is literally this estate’s back garden. “We designed the restaurant, wine lounge and function venue around it, to frame the views.”
Family-owned and family-run, the estate was purchased by Ukrainian family the Gaiduks in 2012. After extensive renovations and vineyard replantings, Quoin Rock officially reopened in November 2018. Patriarch Vitaly Gaiduk is said to have fallen in love with Stellenbosch on a chance visit to the Cape.
“My father has a true passion for wine, and what appealed to us about Quoin Rock was that it was a blank slate, which offered us the opportunity to create the vision our family had,” shares Denis. His wife Julia Gaiduk was lead architect on the renovations and re-design. To run the estate, the couple moved to the Cape in 2014 from the Ukraine and are now raising their two children on the farm.
There’s no shortage of design drama here. At the heart of the Quoin Rock you’ll find the mesmeric water feature—a bronze sculpture of a vine with lines of water running down around it, trained on LEDs. Beyond this is the understated yet refined wine-tasting lounge and Gåte Restaurant. Here blonde wood and bronze sculptures create a light-filled canvas for the mountain views to spill across. The central wine bar has been designed to resemble the wooden eggs in the adjoining wine cellar, which you can see through glass partitions.
Head chef Nicole Loubser and her team of 11 talented and experienced chefs have created a playful fine-dining menu with elements of molecular gastronomy. It’s available as five courses for lunch, or as a 14-course for dinner, both of which can be paired perfectly with the farm’s wines. With work experience from La Colombe, The Test Kitchen and the Michelin-starred JAN in Nice, Nicole promises to surprise and delight guests with her new fine-dining pairings.
Dishes have guests travelling the world through taste and scent, though her creations are always rooted in South Africa with an ingredient or technique. An example is a dish that draws on elements from Canada and Russia. Called Upstream 2.0, it comprises a salmon rose, Beluga caviar, pickled radish, mango gel, litchi gel, chilli oil and spekboom.
Or there’s the dish inspired by her home, a farm in Namibia. It’s that dessert she calls Starry Night. “It’s so dark and there’s no light pollution, so lying on the grass and looking up at the moon and the stars is something we always do,” says Nicole. For the dish: “On a plate with gold flakes that look like shooting stars there’s a cloud made out of cotton candy that goes over edible stars, ice cream and half the moon, so you only see half. When you eat the cotton candy, that’s when the clouds move away and you see the night sky.” The spirit of experimentation and creative expression drives the kitchen’s engine and pushes the boundaries of molecular cuisine.
“At night the Milky Way looks so close, you feel like you can reach out and touch it,” says Denis about the starry sky above the Manor House, located high up on a hill on the farm. “And in the day, you can see all the way to Cape Point.” Back on earth, situated neatly alongside the restaurant and wine lounge, is the function venue. This is the pearl in Quoin Rock’s crown. Here you can host your next special event, from weddings to birthday parties and even corporate functions. The hall can accommodate parties of up 200 people, while there’s also a boardroom for 30 people upstairs.