A day in Franschhoek
No trip to South Africa is complete without a wine tasting.
Stellenbosch is probably the most popular destination for wine tasting from Cape Town, but Franschhoek meaning 'French Corner' is centred around a town and much easier to get around.
We decided to take the Wine Tram tour which comprises tastings at 3 different wineries, using an old tram originally used to transport produce to Cape Town, which has been resurrected in places, and for the parts where the tram doesn't run; a bus.
We arrived early to fit one tasting in before joining the tour, and started at La Bri in the most stunning setting.
Just an hour's drive from Cape Town (depending on how fast your crazy taxi driver goes), Franschhoek was originally settled by French Huguenots, fleeing France in the 16th Century for fear of persecution. As a result the whole place has beautiful French features, and all the vineyards have French names and styles of wine making. La Bri is famous for it's chocolate and wine pairings, but we didn't have time for this before the tour, so just stuck to the Cellar Door tasting for ZAR45 (£2) each.
With our whistles whetted we joined the tour and whizzed on the tram to our first stop; Rickety Bridge. We were collected from the tram stop by a man on a tractor with a trailor on the back for us to sit in, who look us up the long dirt track to the beautiful white manor house.
I think the tractor was the boys' favourite part.
This stop was one of my favourites. As part of the experience you get two free and one half price tasting. This was our half price tasting and our sommelier just kept bringing the wines! We relaxed in the shade and ordered a cheese platter to complement what we were tasting.
My favourite wines here were the Sauvignon Blanc and the Pinotage and in hindsight I should have just bought some there and then, but we were enjoying ourselves too much and were caught unawares when our guide came to collect us!
Luckily I found a supplier in the UK so I'll be putting my order in shortly!
Our next stop is arguably the best setting in Franschhoek; Dieu Donné. Situated higher up than the other wineries, it boasts spectacular views over the valley. Make sure you get a good seat outside to fully enjoy it.
Unfortunately the service didn't live up to the setting; there was no table service so you didn't get the in-depth insight into the wines like at other places. We bought a bottle of sparkling and were told to go to the restaurant next door to get the ice...it didn't go down that well!
Never mind, in a setting that stunning you can't help but smile and enjoy.
Our final stop of the day was definitely the best. As the evening drew in we finished at Maison. It was getting quieter and after our initial tasting we ordered a bottle of their Chenin Blanc, settled into the comfy sofas in the garden and watched as golden hour rolled in.
I could have lounged in that hanging bed forever.
The kitchen wasn't open but eating there is definitely one for the list when we return; the whole restaurant opens out onto that stunning view and you and sip, eat and watch the sun set to your heart's content.
Wine-warm and lazy from the heat we eventually reluctantly made our way back to the city after a beautiful day.