My mom’s 60th is coming up, so as part of the celebrations, my sister-in-law arranged a wine tasting day, on the Franschhoek Wine Tram. It was fantastic, we had so much fun spending time together as a family, tasting wines, eating, and catching up.
Since it was a surprise for my mom, we didn’t pre-book as we wanted her to choose the route, something that didn’t work out too well, since it is so popular! By default, we went on the ‘yellow’ route, since that was the route with the earliest available tickets. We had about an hour to kill before the bus/tram departed to we decided to go to a local pub for some early morning coffee and planning – the Elephant and Barrel Village Pub make a fantastic latte!
After that, we had just enough time to pop into a secondhand book store, something which you would struggle to keep my mom and I away from!
The route gives you 7 options of stops, at which you can stop at a maximum of 5. The bus/tram leaves every hour, so it gives you just enough time to taste some wine and explore the area before you move on.
Our first stop was Grande Provence – and, as it turns out, this one was one of my favourites. We started out by disembarking the tram and catching a tractor-trailer up to the wine tasting rooms. The tractor took us through the most beautiful vineyards, nestled under the gorgeous blue mountains. Add to that the beautiful Cape Dutch style house with it’s traditional thatch roof and, my favourite wine of the day, their Rosé (Angels Tears) and we had a perfect experience.
They also have an art gallery, with paintings as well as sculptures and their shop stocks some interesting jams – like biltong chutney and pinotage coffee jam. For the hungry, they have a restaurant and they also offer picnic baskets – so we will definitely be going back there in the summer!
The next stop was Eikehof, a private family owned farm. This stop was my other favourite. It was so special, because the winemaker/owner and his family conducted the wine tasting – the farm has been in their family since 1903 and their family has been in the area since the 1600s, when the French Huguenots originally arrived in the Cape.
They also have some of the oldest vines in the country, which they still use to produce a small amount of exclusive wines. We enjoyed the wine tasting along with a meat, cheese (from a local dairy) and fruit platter – so yummy! The view was breathtaking, we sat out the back, overlooking the vineyards, which was perfect for a lazy Sunday with family.
I’ve saved the best for last – I fell in love with the wedding venue/reception/hall area – long rustic harvest style tables, string lights, ‘chandeliers’ of greenery and proteas and pink flowers (no, I don’t know what they were!) dotted the tables. Simply stunning! Not to mention this gorgeously rusted old 1942 Ford truck resting under the ancient oak trees out back – if only it could tell me all it’s stories! I bet that they would be very interesting!
Our third stop was Leopard’s Leap. We decided to not to do any wine tasting here, but rather eat some lunch (very important when you’re spending the day wine tasting!). The restaurant was full, so if you are planning on going, my suggestion is that you book. We were very lucky that about 5 minutes after we got there, a table became available.
They are much more modern/contemporary that the other vineyards we had visited – I loved the unique lights (whisks??!! so ingenious!) and their tables were awesome, with the different size chefs knives painted on them.
Leopard’s Leap is also very unique in the way it is set up – you grab your salads and sides at a buffet-style table, which you weigh to determine how much you pay. You then order your meat – today’s choice was free-range chicken, roast pork belly, beef neck or lamb pie. The benefit of this is that you don’t need to wait for your food, which means that we were able to eat and be ready for the next pick up within the hour. If you decide to eat at one of the other restaurants, you would generally need to skip one of the stops and spend 2 hours at that wine farm.
The salads and the sides were fantastic, I loved them all. My favourite though was the roast cauliflower and corn. The only negative was my chicken, which was a bit dry (I had the breast though, which can generally dry out very easily). However, I can say that the roast pork belly and the lamb pie were excellent – there were no complaints on that front! In fact, the family were looking to see if they would be lucky enough to score some left overs from each other – they were left disappointed!
Next up was Chamonix, where we did a tasting of 5 different wines. No, I didn’t finish all of them, that would have had disastrous consequences! We sat in the old cellar, warm and cozy chatting with the family and just being lazy – by this time I was ready for an afternoon nap!
Once we were done, we stood (some lay) in the grassy field overlooking the mountain ranges soaking up the winter sun while waiting for our bus to pick us up again.
Our last stop was The Franschhoek Cellar, which was my dessert – I did the wine pairing with chocolate and my mom did the wine pairing with cheese. It was delicious and I definitely recommend making this your last stop of the day!
I was intrigued by the cork covered walls (I love the ingenious way that they has created a statement wall using corks!), exposed brick and cute cement succulent planters.
It also looks like it has the most fantastic kiddies play area, so you can sit outside and eat lunch while the kiddos are entertained – I would definitely love to go back and try out the restaurant!
While we were waiting for the last bus of the day to pick us up, I managed to snap what I think is a beautiful photo of the sun setting over the tram lines, the perfect way to signal the end to a perfect day!
So very long story short, if you are looking for a way to experience some of the best wine farms that Franschhoek has to offer, I highly recommend spending the day doing one of the tram lines! It’s an experience that both locals and tourists will enjoy immensely!
Have you done the Franschhoek tram? Which line did you do? What did you think of it? I would love to hear your experience!