Glasses of Meerlust Rubicon in hand, Hannes Myburgh's friends drift out onto the vine-trellised veranda that overlooks his wine estate's flower and herb garden; the Helderberg Mountains tower in the distance. Myburgh, whose family has owned Meerlust for seven generations, turns the steak over the coals and throws a bit of beer onto the grill (a time-honored trick for bringing out flavor) as his guests move to their places at the outdoor table to enjoy a lunchtime braai (pronounced BRY)--Afrikaans for barbecue.
Meerlust, the setting for this most traditional of South African meals, is one of the premier wineries of Stellenbosch, the home of the Western Cape's finest reds. Myburghs have owned Meerlust since 1756, and several of the wines that Hannes Myburgh, who trained at Château Lafite, and his head winemaker, Giorgio Dalla Cia, have brought out are among South Africa's current best: the Bordeaux-style Meerlust Rubicon, a superb Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot-Cabernet Franc blend; an attention-grabbing Chardonnay; and a barrel-matured and bottle-aged Merlot. They also produce South Africa's first two estate grappas, a Merlot-Cabernet blend and a Pinot-Chardonnay blend.