Although Cape Town has its fair share of extraordinary restaurants, it’s the Cape Winelands that really take the biscuit when it comes to gastronomic experiences and of course, fabulous wines. But where to start? With seemingly endless wineries, restaurants, hotels and tasting rooms, we know it can get a little confusing. So whether you want picture-perfect mountain views, a sprinkling of glamour or just to know where to find the best Chenin in the valley, you can’t go wrong with these… Here is Timbuktu’s guide to the Cape Winelands.
1. Settle down to a feast at Chef’s Warehouse at Maison
Set yourself up for a weekend of wine tasting with lunch at Maison. The estate is owned by the Weylandts family, the crew behind Cape Town’s hottest interiors emporium of the same name, whilst the restaurant is run by Liam Tomlin and his Chef’s Warehouse team, so expect seriously-stylish furniture to go with your seriously-delicious food. Food is served tapas-style, so pull up a pew under the trees and let the eight-course feast commence. Expect anything and everything from smoke-fired Franschhoek trout to suckling pig and Malay-style mussels.
2. Sip on some wine at Mont Rochelle Vineyard
Richard Branson’s swanky South African offering, Mont Rochelle is the crème de la crème of vineyards. At the relaxed Country Kitchen restaurant adjoining the tasting room and cellar, red and white (or both!) tastings are served up on the white-washed terrace accompanied by a selection of gourmet canapés. Afterwards, choose your favourite bottle and enjoy it with a picnic in the picture-perfect grounds.
3. Experience a twist on menu items at Foliage
In a place where superb restaurants are the norm and fine dining is as commonplace as a cup of coffee, it’s quite hard to stand out from the (delicious) crowds. But Foliage manages it. This is dining with a difference and the menu revolves around whatever chef Chris Erasmus has foraged from the surrounding hills and valleys, be it mushrooms as big as your hand, wild mustard or dandelion flowers. We can’t tell you what’s on the menu as it changes daily but book a table for dinner and discover the true meaning of ‘field-to-fork.’
4. Wander the glorious gardens of Babylonstoren
Stretch your legs with a stroll around Babylonstoren’s modern-day Garden of Eden. Get lost in the prickly-pear maze, relax in the mulberry orchard or explore the extensive gardens, in which all 300 varieties of plant are either edible or used for medicinal properties. And after all that wandering, you might need some reviving. Handy then that there’s a beautiful glass-walled tasting room for grape sampling and two restaurants for organic munching.
5. Indulge in some bubbles at Moreson
If bubbles are your thing, then Moreson is your place. At the end of the aptly named Happy Valley Road, MCC (Methode Cap Classique, the champagne of South Africa) tasting takes place in a shady garden, burbling stream to the right, citrus trees to the left. Sip on the classic Miss Molly Bubbly, munch on one of chef Neil Jewell’s charcuterie boards and simply soak up the magic of the Cape Winelands. Heaven.
6. Spend a night at the beautiful La Petite Ferme
Head out of Franschhoek on the Helshoogte Pass (dodging the daredevil cyclists whizzing past) and just on the left is La Petite Ferme, one of the loveliest vineyards in the Cape Winelands. Views across the valley are stop-in-your-tracks spectacular and you can gaze at them all day long from one of the Manor House or Vineyard suites, all featuring enormous four posters and decadent bathrooms. Oh, and did we mention there are cellar tours and an award-winning restaurant too?
7. Experience a decadent picnic at Boschendal
If all the wine tasting has gone to your head (literally), get yourself and your picnic blanket to the luscious lawns of Boschendal to make it all better. Picnics filled with homemade chicken liver pate, fresh salads and local cheeses sit in eco-friendly packaging, ready for collection whenever you would like. Energy restored, there’s also horse riding around the beautiful grounds, cellar tours or even horse-drawn carriage tours to get stuck into. Or just order a bottle and stay put under the trees…
8. Taste an array of crisp wines at Fairview
Back in the day, Fairview was the first farm in the Cape Winelands to offer wine tastings as we know them. Today, their tastings come with with a furry twist in the shape of 100 female goats who roam the farm around the iconic ‘Goat Tower.’ Sip a glass from the ‘Goats do roam’ range and sample the delectable cow and goat milk cheeses, browse the artisanal bread in the bakery or head to the Goatshed restaurant for the full works. Are you noticing a theme here?!
9. Treat yourself to the Delaire Graff Estate
Owned by the biggest diamond family in the world, Delaire-Graff is glitzy, luxe and just a little bit bling… and we love it! For all its spangly glamour, the estate itself is really very relaxed and everyone is welcome for tastings of the superb Merlot and award-winning Cabernet Sauvignon. Book ahead for lunch on the terrace in the exquisite restaurant or go all out and stay on one of the private cottages, complete with heated plunge pools, Jo Malone toiletries and infinity-stretching views.
10. Grab an ice-cold beer at the Tuk Tuk Craft Brewery
Looking for something different to the Franschhoek fine-wining-and-dining scene? Try the Tuk Tuk Brewery, a 250-litre microbrewery offering four bespoke and four from established company CBC. Sip a cold one and tuck into a plate of nachos or ceviche or in true Winelands style, taste all eight of the creations, each paired perfectly with a traditional Mexican bite. What clever chaps.
11. Eat local at Majeka Kitchen at Majeka House
‘Hyper-local’ is the current buzzword at Majeka House, one of our favourite Winelands designboltholes. But what does that even mean? That chef Lucas Carstens sources almost all of hisproduce from within a 20-kilometre radius of the recently re-named Majeka Kitchen. Heforages edible plants, takes his pick from the onsite hotel garden, calls upon small-scalefishing initiative Abalobi, and regularly visits local organic farms. The resulting four- to seven-plate menu is surprisingly light and tastes as good as it looks – trust us when we say that thefire-roasted beetroot is life-changing!
P.S. If pairing your culinary extravaganza with wines (all local of course) you might want tomake a night of it – the individually designed suites are a delight.