Bonnievale Wines are crafted by nature, but country living isn’t for the squeamish. That is if you go by the experiences of Bonnievale Wines CEO John Barnardt and his wife, Jacqui, who are currently hosting two venomous snakes in their garden.

By all accounts, their home alongside the Bonnievale Wines cellar and vineyards would be just heavenly for a nature-lover like Sir David Attenborough. In recent weeks, the Barnardts have accumulated quite a menagerie in their garden. “There are now two snakes in my garden. In the front, near the Winemakers Cottage, there’s a 2 m-long Cape Cobra.

The back garden’s new lodger is a new arrival – a small puff adder.

“He must be thirsty as he’s chosen to ‘reside’ under the dogs’ water bucket,” says John. “Considering its venom, I don’t think this ‘friendship’ is sustainable!” John walks through the vineyards adjacent to the Breede River every day. “I am always astounded at the number of guinea fowl, hadeda, egrets, ibis, duiker and otters in the area. I once spotted a caracal stalking birds,” he says.

As for the snakes, the cobras are almost part of the furniture because they come every year.

“They come after the mice, rats and frogs,” says John. “And they keep us wide awake too!”