SA Wine Country: Franschhoek

After 3 nights of action in Cape Town, we had planned to spend our final night in the area in the wine country region. We had toyed with the two options but on advice of our safari guide as well as the prior hotel concierge, chose Franschhoek.

We made our first stop of the day outside of Stellenbosch (the other wine area) and met Louisa for a guided horse-back riding adventure through the vineyards. She asked if either of us were “experienced” riders to which we both laughed so we had a very leisurely ride through the vineyards with minimal fast paced movement. The horses were quite funny and listening to her give descriptions of each one that we’d be riding made me laugh- mine was a former race horse that wouldn’t want to leave his pregnant girlfriend (but the other horse was also his girlfriend) and Debbie’s would attempt to tell her that she never gets fed and will need to eat at every possible junction.

The horses were very well behaved as we made our way around, observing the beautiful mountain ranges including looking back at Table Mountain as well as the surrounding area we were in.

After the ride was over, we got some recommendations from Louisa for vineyards to visit. We first stopped at Delheim for lunch. The recommendation from the guide couldn’t have been better, not only was the food excellent (and we were quite hungry at this point), but also the wine and view were picturesque. We were sitting in some sort of garden and the set-up of the vineyard (called wine farms here) was awesome- a little village of buildings all coming together for the production.

We made our way next door to Muratie for our first wine tasting experience of the day. The wine tasting room was in a building from the 1830s and I got the sense that this was one of the older vineyards in the area. We tried a few whites and reds and enjoyed nearly all of them before the room got really crowded with a private tour and we carried on to the next vineyard.

In deciding where to go next, we ended up at Backsberg, a winery in the area that made kosher wine. While we didn’t end up having any of the kosher wine, we figured it’d be worth a stop. Like the prior two vineyards, the infrastructure for the public on this one was also very large. In addition to a massive restaurant with a patio and large dining room, the wine tasting area was split across a patio overlooking the vineyard as well as a massive room (they sold their most common wine for 1.5 L bottle at $6…..everything makes Napa look so expensive now). Our tasting “guide” was very entertaining here and did a great job answering all of Debbie’s questions so we enjoyed this experience.

The final stop on our self-guided tour was Vrede En Lust. Somehow we got lucky and saved the best for last- the best wines and the best views. We showed up maybe 45 minutes before closing and ended up staying 45 minutes after closing as the wines were great, the pours were strong, the tasting guide was informative, and once more, the views were breathtaking. We were situated right on the border of Franschhoek and Stellenbosch and the mountains that separate them so no matter which way you turned, we were just in this valley and the sunset hitting the mountains was stunning.

We made our way to our hotel, a tiny two-story Marriott Protea (SA brand) and walked about five minutes to a dinner spot that Debbie had found the night before. Again, comparatively to Napa, this place was phenomenal. The food was excellent- we split a steak and some sort of fish dish and a bottle of wine, with tip, for $41. We were pretty exhausted after the long day and found ourselves sleeping pretty early, preparing for our final day in Cape Town before heading back to Joburg in the evening.

Next Up- Final few hours in Cape Town and a trip on an SA budget carrier (Mango Airlines- with mango colored planes) back to JNB before our weekend get-away to Mauritius

One thought on “SA Wine Country: Franschhoek

  1. If you can fit it in the cable car ride to the top of Table Mountain, weather permitting is great fun and also the Jewish Museum, which is next to a large park. I lot of Sephardic background in the country is exhibited. Sorry I did not tell you any of this before. I did not get to Robben Island or the wine country so I found your comments and photos most interesting. What a honeymoon!! Love, Mimi

    Lucy Maslia

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