{travel} A day in Franschhoek: from pairings to picnics

Taking precious time to rediscover everything our province has to offer after the confines of #lockdown, I headed to Franschhoek for the day to wine and dine my soul in serenity.

Introduction

Since the upliftment of the travel ban as part of the COVID-19 regulations, I’ve been feeling (and acting!) like a proper tourist in my own city. Keen to get out of the house (safely, I must add!) at every opportunity, I’ve loaded my weekends with outdoor excursions and al-fresco dining experiences. And wine, of course!

Most recently, I decided to spend the day in Franschhoek, one of South Africa’s most stunning food and wine capitals. A day in the Franschhoek Wine Valley is always such a spoil; one leaves reluctantly, with vows to return for more. Filled with culinary spoils and picturesque landscape indulgences, Franschhoek has to be at the top of your list if you’re looking to nurture your soul.

From garden strolls to wine pairings and an enchanting picnic in the afternoon sun – we did it all in a day. Only a quick hop, skip and jump away from Cape Town, I felt as if I was on a mini-holiday, enveloped by Franschhoek’s signature hospitality.

By the gardens of Babylonstoren

Our morning started with a crisp stroll through the Babylonstoren gardens. Conveniently located on the road to Franschhoek, it’s a lovely half-way stop for a brisk walk or slow meander before the spoils of the day!

With expansive vegetable gardens, fruit orchards and simply stunning displays of fronds and flowers, you can easily lose yourself for a few hours in the vast embrace of Babylonstoren. Filled with secret nooks and corners, it’s a place where you can breathe freely and listen to the birds whilst your mind unwinds.

Do yourself a favour and pop into the farm shops for a warm loaf of bread, a basket full of preserves, nuts or chocolate, and an armful of stunning flowers. Stock up on bright vegetables from their gardens and eggs from their free-range chickens and ducks.

For a lavish lunch or celebratory brunch, remember to book at Greenhouse or Babel to indulge in the full farm experience.

Anthonij Rupert Wyne

A visit to Franschhoek is never quite complete without a stop at the home of Anthonij Rupert Wyne. Offering locals and tourists alike a delicious smorgasbord of tasting experiences, the historical manor house is the perfect setting for wine tasting on the patio.

MCC and nougat tasting

Thoroughly enjoying the sun on our backs, we settled in on the summery patio of the stately old manor house for wine tastings. With sweeping views of the gardens, and the Cape Dutch manor at your back, Anthonij Rupert Wyne offers a quiet reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the city. I enjoyed the superb MCC and nougat tasting, The Tall Hedonist chose their “Wines from Exceptional Vines” tasting and my mom warmed her hands with a rooibos tea tasting.

The MCC and nougat tasting was simply delicious. Already a fan of the L’Ormarins range of delicate MCC’s, the addition of artisinal nougat squares elevated these bubblies to celebrity status.

The Brut Classic was paired with a cassata nougat (Italian dessert flavour), the luscious Brut Rosé paired with a cherry nougat and then the grand finale. The Blanc de Blancs 2013 with a pecan and orange nougat; first without and then with Fleur de Sel. My first time trying their Blanc de Blancs MCC, it was a magical pairing.

Booking is advised, and tastings are available Mondays to Saturdays, 10.00 – 16.30

Shiraz and charcuterie tasting

Thereafter we changed gears a bit and headed to the ultra-modern tasting room of Terra del Capo Anti-pasti Bar – the gorgeous Italian tapas deli and restaurant situated on the Anthonij Rupert Wyne farm.

Terra Del Capo fits snugly into the contemporary Franschhoek embrace, standing proudly at the entrance of the Anthonij Rupert estate. Beautifully juxtaposed against the historical backdrop of the Cape Dutch manor house, Terra Del Capo is young, fresh and full of flavour.

As part of a visit to the Franschhoek Wine Valley you simply have to experience their Shiraz and Charcuterie tasting. An informal platter of stunning cured meats, paired to three exceptional Shiraz iterations, it tastes like a slice of Italy. I might have lost a little of my hedonistic heart on the Anthonij Rupert Syrah 2014.

The Deli is stacked with artisanal and local goodies, mostly from Franschhoek itself. A tiny restaurant transports you to the heart of the mediterranean as you dine alongside the modern cellar.

Booking is advised, and tastings are available Mondays to Saturdays, 10.00 – 16.30

Main road meander

We reluctantly left the comfort of Terra del Capo, but enjoyed a lunch-time stroll down the quaint main road of Franschhoek as we lapped up the warm winter sun. We of course had to stop at the chocolate shop, because who can  resist a decadent little dessert!

I adore the sidewalk dining ambience that makes Franschhoek’s main road feel like an European destination. Casually laying back in comfy chairs post-lunch, most of Franschhoek’s eateries allow their diners to spill out on to the sidewalk, dappling in the reprieve of the huge shade trees. The perfect spot for a glass of wine, a brunch or late lunch, the main road is an exciting hub of food and drink.

After a must-do cuddle with Franschhoek’s giant (socially distanced!) teddy bear, we headed across the road to browse the Saturday market. Colourful, bright and festive, it’s proudly South African all around.

La Residence

A late afternoon picnic at La Residence completed the day, which already felt like a walking tour of a foreign city.

La Residence is surely a jewel in the Franschhoek crown. Delight in a luxurious picnic basket next to the lake, whilst you lazily cast your eyes over the iconic landscape of the Wine Valley. This place is simply the epitome of indulgence; whether its in their five-star accommodation or in their opulent spaces reserved for your pure pleasure.

A generous picnic basket awaited us next to the dam, where peacocks roamed the lawns undisturbed. I felt like a kid before Christmas as I unpacked box after box of decadent treats, presented in bio-degradable containers. Beautifully garnished salads, tubs of gorgeous spreads and sauces, rosemary roasted baby chicken portions, sourdough baguettes,  a selection of cheeses that made my little heart sing and of course, a selection of cured meats to round off the ultimate luxurious picnic experience.

And then there was even more – when you think the basket is empty, you pull out chocolate buttermilk cupcakes and a selection of seasonal fruits. A bottle of La Residence Rosemary Jane Rosé 2019 on ice, and the world was a beautiful place again.

The La Residence team is simply incredible – warm, welcoming and generous with their time and beautiful spaces. We left feeling pampered and looked after, with hearts as light as their herby whipped cream cheese.

Collection times for picnic baskets are from 12h00 to 14h00 and the picnic area is open until 17h00. Bookings and pre-payment are essential.

In conclusion

As we start to venture out again from between our walls and shells, we should start local. Supporting your local businesses and tourism industry is absolutely crucial right now as we try and restore a crumbling economy as part of the COVID-19 aftermath. You don’t have to go far to find a piece of paradise; Franschhoek offers the adventurous and discerning travelers among us a feast for the mind and soul, as well as an overflowing pantry of homegrown produce.

Second photographer and photo credit: The Tall Hedonist, aka Timothy P. Gibson

Disclaimer: I was invited to this event in my personal capacity. There was no expectation for platform coverage in the form of a blog, or social media posts. This is my honest and truthful opinion and review thereof. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are solely those of The Little Hedonist, given in good faith and in no way influenced by the company or its affiliates. All images, unless otherwise stated/credited, are also my own.

The Little Hedonist endorses responsible drinking.
Don’t drink and drive. Not for persons under 18.

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