As one of the Cape’s most stunning wine valleys, Franschhoek is known as the “gourmet capital” of South Africa and is well worth a visit! From wine tasting tours to dining at fantastic restaurants, and village tours to horseback riding through the vineyards, there is always something wonderful to do in Franschhoek.
Glenwood: Situated off the beaten path, Glenwood offers its visitors a fun little drive. I find their tasting room charmingly eclectic! They are renowned for their chardonnay.
Chardonnay is one of the best varietals for the valley as the soils and the climate allow the grapes to ripen slowly with great intensity. Following the demand for unwooded chardonnay, they offer both the unwooded and wooded options (both are great). They also have a good merlot and syrah. Their credo is “Simple, Natural Quality” – as such they have joined the eco-conserving Biodiversity & Wine Initiative (BWI). www.glenwoodvineyards.co.za
Image above taken from the Glenwood Vineyards website.
Charmonix: Well known for excellent wooded chardonnay, Charmonix has a quaint little tasting room and is located on the edge of the village. And, if you enjoy French cuisine try Mon Plaisir restaurant, which is located across the road from the tasting room. www.charmonix.co.za
Cabriere (and the home to Pierre Jourdan champagne): This estate is a must for those who are in love with champagne. You can visit at 11am or 3pm on weekdays to do a cellar tour and learn how champagne is made. The tour is fascinating. On a Saturday at 11am they include Sabrage in the cellar tour and the tour is often conducted by the owner of the farm or by a family member. The Saturday tour is also well worth doing as it is informative and lots of fun.
Note that Cabriere also does a really interesting pinot noir and chardonnay blend, as well as the Tranquille, which is a still champagne. This estate is also perfectly located for anyone who does not have a car and is staying in the village as it is within walking distance of the village.
Note that the estate has an excellent restaurant. The restaurant is, however, located inside a cellar and, as such, is usually best as a dinner venue. About one block further up the hill is the restaurant La Petite Ferme.
La Petite Ferme offers one of the best views of the valley and a really lovely lunch experience. Tip: Ask them to let you sit in the garden and place your order from there. They will call you to your table once your food is ready. Note it is recommended that you make reservations for both La Petite Ferme and Cabriere during the summer, as they are both extremely popular. www.cabriere.co.za
Boekenhoutskloof: As the best wine estate in the valley, Boekenhoutskloof should be the first stop for “wino’s!”
Boekenhoutskloof has four brands:
- Porcupine Ridge: This is their second label and is sold at a reasonable price for everyday drinking.
- Chocolate Block: This is a blend of 5 varietals and its name comes from the spicy and chocolate nose and taste. What is interesting is that the grapes for this wine come from a variety of areas. This wine has become enormously popular and sought after.
- Wolftrap: The local legend goes that Franschhoek used to have wolves that roamed the mountains and that with gnashing of teeth used to howl at night and scare the villagers into their homes. They thought it was only a legend until they found a wolftrap on the farm. The Wolftrap red is a blend of Syrah, Mouvedre, and Grenache.
- Boekhoutskloof: This is their premium range and consists of a Semillon (noble late harvest), Shiraz, and a Cabernet Sauvignon. Note, they only open one of these bottles out of the three each day for tasting, so you will have to look out for the others on wine menus and make sure you experience them, as they are all exceptional.
Image above of Porcupine Ridge wines from Boekenhoutskloof, taken from the Boekenhoutskloof website.
Haut Espoir: A fantastic small boutique wine farm that I would highly recommend, Haut Espoir is a quaint retreat for wine lovers.
For wino’s who want a more in-depth insight into the farm, try and make an appointment with the owner, Rob Armstrong, or the winemaker, Nikey van Zyl, or simply take a chance and pop in (it has a regular tasting room that you can pop in and visit). The welcome at Haut Espoir is always warm. They are one of the few estates that bottle a single varietal petit verdot. www.hautespoir.co.za
Stony Brook: Family owned and run, Stony Brook has an intimate tasting room with a fireplace for winter and a lovely outside area for tasting in the summer. The wines are extremely good and, to me, it feels like you can taste the winemaker’s passion.
I would highly recommend a visit. www.stonybrook.co.za
La Petite Ferme: This is a boutique winery and a restaurant. The location of the restaurant is one of the best in the Winelands and boasts sweeping views of the Franschhoek valley. I would strongly recommend you make a booking for this restaurant if you are in the area. A visit is an exercise in relaxation. Ask to sit outside on the lawn and to order from there. When your food is ready they will call you in to your table.
Locals usually plan on spending the whole afternoon there. After lunch we retreat back to the lawn and relax and enjoy the view. All of the estate’s wines are available by the glass, so pair each course with one of the estate’s wines. Particular favorites of mine are: the rose, chardonnay (Mark Dendy Young’s favorite varietal), and the blanc fume (one of the few estates that makes it). www.lapetiteferme.co.za