Waking up on Sunday realising that Monday was a public holiday, I felt the need to make the most of it. I decided that Capescape needed to explore Franschhoek.
So, I set off with enthusiasm to find places where tour buses can not go. I wanted to go deep off the beaten track.....no crowds!!
Driving down Franschhoek’s Main Street always sets the mood.... the distinct and quaint atmosphere, French restaurants and oak trees lining the street, curio markets, Cape Dutch buildings etc....so I got out to take it in for a minute.
I however got straight back in my car to quench my desire to find something new and away from the tourist trap that I had found myself in.
Driving out passing the inspiring Huguenot Monument, I turned onto a little gravel road with a sign that read “La Bri”, only to learn that this was actually one of the oldest farms in the area and was once owned by a French Huguenot in 1694.
I quite liked tracing the roots of the first Huguenots that settled in this beautiful valley. And looking around to think of all that happened on this soil and stories that could be told, if only the ancient old oak trees could talk!
As I made my way up to the tasting room and cellar I ran into the farm manager, who mentioned to me that there was also an old tasting room on the estate.
Not wanting to miss out on anything that could enhance my experience I enthusiastically asked more. “Come let me show you” was music to my ears. Hastily I followed him through a gap in the hedge onto an open lawn with a beautiful Cape Dutch manor house towering over us.
The oak trees gave us ample shade as it was one of those over 30 degrees days in the winelands and not a breath of wind. Fumbling with some keys he made his way to a small doorway covered in ivy, that looked like it hadn’t been opened for years.(which I really don’t think it had).
Inside were dusty old wine bottles, stained wine barrels and rusty old farm equipment that was literally covered in cob webs. Breathing in that old musty wine smell, I was beginning to really feel the spirit of the real winelands.
As I drove out over the small bridge I knew I had found a place less frequented and would definitely be back. Continuing along up towards to mountain I found Colmant - Cap Classic & Champagne (Only produce Cape Classic on the estate – and import Champagne) – it might have been the word “champagne” that caught my attention!
With a rather fresh, French appearance that was quite welcoming I made my way towards the cellar. Apparently only open by appointment only I thought I would take a chance and see if I could convince them to give me a tasting....well, there was not much convincing as I had timed my visit appropriately well, with another couple.
Sipping on some yummy bubbles I was greeted by the wine maker himself, and even managed to order 6 bottles of the best Brut Rose, as I could not miss out – apparently they are sold out 36hours after opening sales – WOW!
Having these bubbles rushing around my head, I just wanted more excitement!!!! Where to next??... Even further up a gravel road to discover a little gem. I knew this was the place where one will never find a tour bus or herds of tourists as driving over a thin “stoney” bridge does not allow for it.
Stoney Brook – nestled under the towering mountains with fantastic surroundings. We were greeted by the owner herself. And what a great informative tasting she gave us. Giving us complete insight into each wine and where the name comes from, I must admit she really did quench my thirst for knowledge on wine making and good wine. Enjoying the tranquil, quiet environment and I almost couldn’t leave. Do admire the huge “Ghost Gum” tree before you leave!.....
Driving up the Franschhoek pass to capture the beautiful view over the valley, I couldn’t help but be distracted by the festiveness outside the Haute Cabriere cellar. The barrels under the bright red umbrellas were surrounded by happy smiles and decadent ice buckets of Cap Classic (Champagne)..... Yum!
Walking inside the cellar to order myself a glass, I came across a rather fancy restaurant inside, this was going to be the place for dinner! .....
Settling down outside to enjoy the sunset with my now, bottle of Cap Classic! Taking in the magnificent view, you can’t imagine where else you would rather be.
Dinner was fantastic; the cellar restaurant is built into the flank of the mountain and has a glass wall at the back of the restaurant overlooking the barrels in the cellar. One can order each gourmet dish, either as a starter, or as a full portion.
So, if you are not quite sure what to eat, you can try a combination of tastes and order few different dishes, which is exactly what we did. So many different delectable taste sensations!! From fresh Salmon trout bred and grown in the cold mountain streams to succulent lamb and game from the Karoo.
The combination of fine wine and food, the elegance of the underground venue and the breath-taking views makes this an unforgettable experience. It may be a touch touristy, but for such delicious food I can make an exception.....and I can see why everyone raves about Franschhoek having some of the best restaurants in the Cape.
This little expedition will not be the last as we have only touched on what the winelands has to offer, so stick around and Capescape will share unique experiences and character boutique wineries, - off the beaten track.
Don’t just be a number, waiting to board a tour bus.....come with us for a decadent and unforgettable experience – on the road much less travelled.
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