SA Country Life

Maná in Heaven

COUNTRY CHEF ◗ SUNÉ EKSTEEN

Do you have any idea of the effect a speeding fine can have on the trajectory of your life? The life story of chef Suné Eksteen, bears witness to this statement.

However, on the morning photographer Daniela Zondagh and I take the turn-off to Bartho Eksteen wine estate in the Hemelen-Aarde Valley not far from Hermanus, with the autumn mists swirling around us, we almost miss the sign to Wijnskool, the Bartho Eksteen Wine Academy for Young Winemakers, and we certainly are not speeding. This is where Suné, with the help of the entire Eksteen family, opened the doors of Maná Eatery in November last year.

Suné greets us outside the restaurant with a welcoming smile and her gorgeous German shepherd, and invites us into the warmth of the restaurant where the prep for the day is well underway. “We used to live here,” she explains, “with the wine cellar right next door. Back then we held our wine tastings and served platters of eats under a huge granadilla vine. But when we moved the wine tasting to the oldest building on the farm, which in the previous century was known as Attaqua Mill House, a whole new chapter started with the birth of Maná.”

The name Maná refers to the ‘manna from heaven’ in the Bible. The restaurant feels like a comfortable family living room, and there is a piano, a fireplace and plenty of display cases with glasses, crockery and bottles of wine, as well as the warm hospitality and easy laughter of the Eksteens.

Suné takes us to the (pumpkin fritter). And there is Ruan de Klerk at the stove frying up one perfect after another, liberally sprinkling them with cinnamon sugar. Suné’s sister, Ynie Jordaan, is putting the finishing touches to the , and Shani, Suné’s daughter, is in charge of making the Cape brandy pudding. And then her winemaker husband Bartho appears and makes us coffee using his special blend called Boeretroos.

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