As a surprise to the family, my sister, Che had organized a trip to the famous Franschhoek Wine Valley for two nights/three days filled with food, wine, and fun. Our first stop on our journey to Franschhoek was a stop at Warwick Wine Estate outside of Stellenbosch, which is another world renowned wine area. The estate was beautiful with an amazing backdrop of mountains, vineyards and a small pond, where visitors can buy a picnic/tapas lunch, wine and sit on the grass under large umbrellas. It was a hot day so we decided to sit under this beautiful old oak tree for our wine tasting and tasty Ploughman’s platter which was good, but quite small for five people. For the most part, we all preferred the red wines at this estate; Our favorite wines were the Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Our time at Warwick is fondly remembered as a relaxing afternoon sharing wines and stories with no pressing agenda.
Unique to this estate is the fabled Wedding Cup. For those wanting to renew your vows or do something romantic with your loved one you can drink from the famous “Wedding Cup”. The legend of the Wedding Cup revolves around a princess that fell in love with a commoner with whom she wanted to marry (the full story can be found on the Warwick website). The King would not allow his daughter to be with this man and imprisoned the Silversmith to keep the two apart. When that did not diminish his daughters desire to marry the commoner, the King created a proposal. He told his daughter, “If your Silversmith can make a chalice from which two people can drink at the same time without spilling one single drop, I will free him and you shall become his bride”. In time, the Silversmith created such masterpiece and the two were joined in marriage. Still today, the chalice remains a symbol of their love. “Happiness and good fortune await the couple who drink from this cup.”
From there we drove through the popular town of Stellenbosch, a college town with old picturesque buildings, immense history and strong Afrikaans culture. Franschhoek is about 30-40 minute drive from Stellenbosch, but you drive through the most beautiful wine country I personally think in the world — albeit I may be a little bias as a proud South African (Brenden). Upon our arrival in Franschhoek we picked up our keys to go to our surprise self catering home in the heart of Franschhoek with a wonderful pool and outside entertainment area.
My sister told us that we could relax at the pool, but needed to be ready for a driver at 6pm for a celebration dinner location at Haute Cabriere. Haute Cabriere is an intimate, whimsical wine estate overlooking the Franschhoek wine valley. This estate is a must for those who like Sparkling wine, Pinot Noir and wines with a innovative flare.
As we sat down for dinner and a sparkling Blanc de Blanc was on ice waiting for us. I had the oysters as a starter which were tasteful, but served warm, which is not my preference. Throughout the meal we had sparkling wine and their unwooded 2009 Pinot Noir which has become Julie’s favorite wine. The food was excellent and Julie and I had the most divine Duo of Springbok dish for our main course. Julie claims it was one of the best entrees she has ever experienced. My mother had the six-course degustation with wine pairings which was excellent, however service was slow with bringing the correct wine with the various dishes. Overall the evening was very intimate, in a great setting. The Haute Cabriere Estate is a must see for those looking for a wonderful romantic evening in a old wine cellar with excellent wine and food.
After a wonderful evening we went home for some rest to wake up early for another fun filled day of wine tasting in the Franschhoek valley. My sister has organized a driver for the day. First stop…Grande Provence wine estate. The grounds of this estate are well manicured with a shaded garden in the middle of several historical cape dutch buildings and adorned with art sculptures. Our favorite was the stallion made out of car tires. We found their red wines on the whole to be very tasty.
After the Grand Provence we were rushed off to La Petite Ferme where we enjoyed an a hour wine tour with the patriarch wine maker/owner, John. This wine tour is worth your time and we got to enjoy a variety of amazing wines that they produce. Our favorite was the Cabernet Sauvignon. Following the tour we sat down to a delicious meal at the restaurant, which I highly recommend for decadent food and lovely views.
From La Petite, we made our way to Haute Espoir wine estate which is a quaint estate with a resident roster. By this time in the day, we were all feeling very relaxed after having tasted many different wines. We considered returning home to the pool, but instead made the decision to try one final estate.
La Motte is another well manicured estate with lovely gardens and a modern appointed tasting room. The location would be great on a cold winters day to enjoy their wonderful reds and sit near the fire place.
Our trip to Franschhoek was very memorable, lots of fun with good wine and panoramic beauty all around. This area is truly a must see for anyone traveling to South Africa.