Babylonstoren wine museum

The Story of Wine: a contemporary narrative about a historic love affair, Babylonstoren’s wine museum

For hundreds of years, Babylonstoren has told the story of terroir, wine-making, and enjoyment through its delicious repertoire of wines. To sip on a glass in the shadow of the estate’s elegant Dutch gabled farmhouse overlooking the Franschhoek valley is to be transported back to 1692 when the farm was first established. But now, 330 years later, this story is taking on a more corporeal form with Babylonstoren’s just-opened museum of wine, the first of its kind on the continent.

Babylonstoren wine museum
The impressive two-story entry into the wine museum

The Story of Wine, as the museum is called, spins a contemporary narrative about the historic love affair between humankind and wine. It begins with terroir, represented by an enormous, two-storey sculpture of twisted vines and roots, beneath which visitors must walk to explore the storehouse of treasures that lies beyond. “The inspiration behind this elaborate structure was to create a sense of the origin of wine, within its deepest roots and genesis,” explains designer Etienne Hanekom. “We hoped that visitors would feel like one of the organisms within the soil, weaving its way through the terroir.”

Babylonstoren Wine Museum
A miniature of a Cape Dutch werf

Beyond this awe-inspiring structure lies a variety of artefacts, artworks, and smart tech, from an antique collection of corkscrews, lyrical poems inspired by wine, and an 1821 bottle of Constantia dessert wine — a favourite of Napoleon Bonaparte — to a screening room made in the shape of a wine barrel and immersive virtual reality headsets. “There’s something for all audiences,” says Babylonstoren museologist Elsa Vogts. “There is something to delight novices who just want to stroll through, as well as oenophiles eager to learn something new about wine.”

Babylonstoren wine museum
A nod towards Babylonstoren’s iconic donkeys

Babylonstoren is, as ever, devoted to telling the story of wine-enjoyment with its award-winning cellars, restaurants, and hotel and spa; only now this narrative is told a little more deliberately through its interactive and beguiling wine museum.