South Africa: Winelands
After six nights in Cape Town, we ventured out for a one night whistle-stop winelands adventure. Our first stop was the stunning Stellenbosch where we mooched around the shops and took a coffee pit stop at De Warenmarkt which was an indoor market with five or six different hipster food outlets.
We then pressed on to Warwick vineyard where we'd booked in for a late picnic lunch. It was the bomb. There are about ten spots set up overlooking the lake and we lounged back on massive cushions as the waitress confirmed our hamper order and shared the wine list with us. The food was out of this world and we chomped our way through olive bread, pate, ham, mexican bean salads, mini lemon posset deserts and a whole host of other treats. I'm a picnic maniac at the best of times and this was almost too much excitement to handle. The Warwick rose washed it down a treat and I had to really pull my weight as James was driving. Good job I've got the super powers that I do...! We'd visited Warwick the last time that we were in South Africa so didn't go on a vineyard tour but it's one of the best we've done. You hop on the back of a open topped Jeep and they drive you round the vineyards safari-style as your guide describes each of the grapes as one of the 'Big 5'. Then they finish the tour off with a super generous tasting.
We then drove on to La Petite Ferme just outside Franshoeck. Our room was dreamy and overlooked vineyards as far as the eye could see. Whilst the pool looked tempting, we pushed on and walked up to Haute Cabriere to squeeze in another tasting before dinner. James had finished his driving duties and when in Rome...!
We didn't have time to do it but there's a new 'wine tram' that's running from Franshoeck that looked great. It removes the need for someone to stay off the booze and enables you to visit lots of vineyards without forking out for a pretty pricey driver.
We had dinner at La Petite Ferme and whilst it was yummy, we weren't enamoured with the service and I think there's better options in Franshoeck itself which is rammed with wine bars (surprise surprise), a little brewery, lush shops and restaurants.
There's something really special about this region of South Africa and, whilst maybe it was the wine (!), we felt full of all the joys, as you can see from the photo below!
The next day was home time but we stopped in to Babylonsotren on our way to the airport. It was insane. It's a vast property with two restaurants, a vineyard, a spa, a hotel, amazing gardens (with chickens and donkeys!) and, of course, a vineyard. It's a total sight to behold and well worth the trip. We had a final lunch at Babel and it was a blow-your-socks-off type experience with delicious meat and fish dishes accompanied by all sorts of exciting veg they grow on-site. On our wanderings we also saw the other, more relaxed restaurant (The Greenhouse) which was in a gorgeous setting and looked equally great. I wanted to move in to the hotel there and then but had to make do with buying the most beautifully packaged olive oil I've ever seen and a notepad from the farm shop!
At the airport there's a really decent wine shop and, given we weren't buying in bulk, this is where we stocked up. The prices are slightly higher than those at the vineyards themselves but it saves the whole will-it-smash-on-my-pretty-clothes scenario and it makes me smile every time we open a bottle of 'holiday wine' at home.
- Warwick: http://warwickwine.com/
- Picnic booking: http://warwickwine.com/bookings.php
- Babylonstoren: https://www.babylonstoren.com/
- Wine tram: http://winetram.co.za