The largest drawback when exploring wine areas is avoiding ingesting and driving. Personal or small group wine excursions are costly and being the designated driver sucks (who actually enjoys spitting?). The Franschhoek wine area close to Cape City has give you a novel resolution—a hop-on-hop-off wine tram. It’s reasonably priced, pretty versatile, and lets you go to as much as six wineries in in the future with out driving.
There are 5 Franschhoek wine tram routes. The Blue and Inexperienced traces go to smaller wineries nearer to the mountains (the identical wineries however in reverse order). The Pink and Yellow traces go to extra worldwide wineries within the valley. The Purple line makes use of the bus, not the tram, and visits additional afield wineries like the wonderful Babylonstoren (which we visited by automotive).
We selected the Inexperienced line as a result of we needed to have lunch at Mont Rochelle. If you happen to begin on the earliest journey round 10am you’ll be able to go to as much as six wineries (from eight choices) with a cease of 1 hour at every vineyard. We ended up visiting the primary 5 on the Inexperienced line.
To keep away from disappointment you ought to be conscious that the wine tram is basically extra of a wine bus. The tram part could be very restricted and solely connects Rickety Bridge and Grand Provence. The tram-bus is cute, although, and has open home windows to benefit from the fabulous mountain and winery views.
Tickets price R220 ($16/£12.50) and don’t embody wine tastings besides at one vineyard on our tour (La Bourgogne). Tastings price from R25 ($1.80/£1.40) and meals can also be obtainable at most wineries (e book prematurely for a proper meal or simply snack as we did).
Vineyard 1: Rickety Bridge
Our journey started on the bus with a bubbly host who defined how the day labored. On the fringe of city we switched to the shiny inexperienced tram, which runs on railway traces relationship again to 1904 and is modelled on 19th-century trams. The tram’s open sides meant we had beautiful views of the vineyards and craggy mountains on this sizzling sunny day in late summer season with out a cloud within the sky. A recording of a plummy English man gave us the background to the realm together with how the Huguenots introduced their wine data right here within the 1600s after fleeing from France by way of the Netherlands as a result of persecution of Protestants by the ruling Catholics.
We disembarked on the Rickety Bridge platform and switched to a trailer pulled by a tractor to take us down the bumpy, dusty grime observe by way of the winery to the vineyard. My abdomen was glad we did this in the beginning of the day and never after a day of tasting!
Rickety Bridge was packed even earlier than our group of 25 arrived. We missed out on the prime tables on the terrace and took a seat inside the place a member of employees defined we may solely use the desk for 30 minutes. As we solely had 40 minutes earlier than the tractor was on account of choose us up this wasn’t an excessive amount of of an issue. We selected the 4 wine tasting for R25 ($1.80/£1.40) and tried a Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinotage, and Cabernet Sauvignon. I don’t know if it was simply too early within the day, however these had been our least favorite wines of the day and we didn’t end any of our pours.
We simply had time to complete our tasting earlier than we needed to head off. The expertise had felt rushed and impersonal and we had been somewhat doubtful in regards to the day forward.
In hindsight we’d have skipped Rickety Bridge and gone straight to the second cease, Grand Provence. We didn’t benefit from the wines or the expertise at Rickety Bridge and this is able to have enabled us to be forward of the gang (just one couple skipped it). After all, in case you are within the social side of the tram then you definitely may wish to persist with the group.
Vineyard 2: Grand Provence
One other tram and tractor trip introduced us to Grand Provence, the place we had a way more welcoming expertise with a employees member greeting us and explaining the 4 tasting choices and offering water and crackers. We sat at communal tables within the stunning gardens of this grand property surrounded by sculptures, aromatic beds of lavender, a fountain, and historical timber.
Wine tastings began from R30. We selected to share a premium tasting for R50 ($three.70/£2.90) for 4 wines and loved all of them rather more than Rickety Bridge’s. The employees additionally took extra time to clarify the wines to us. The Chenin Blanc was crisp and fruity, the Rosé was scrumptious, and the Zinfandel (an uncommon grape in South Africa) was additionally glorious.
We shortly ran out of time. There was one waiter serving two giant tables and as everybody had completely different tastings it took some time for him to get round with every pour. We might have purchased some wine however we needed to rush off.
The tram part of the day is enjoyable however you find yourself shedding 20 minutes of the hour cease on the tractor (the bus later within the day goes proper to the vineyard door so that you get a full hour). We might have loved the expertise extra if we skipped Rickety Bridge and spent an additional hour at Grand Provence to go searching the grounds and artwork gallery.
Vineyard three: Mont Rochelle
Spirits on the tram had been positively larger after a few wine tastings! We switched from the tram to the bus that might take us round for the remainder of the day beginning with Richard Branson’s lodge and vineyard Mont Rochelle. The tastings happen within the Nation Kitchen, their casual restaurant, however in order for you a full lunch you’ll want to remain for 2 hours and it’s greatest to e book.
We determined to snack within the wine tasting space as an alternative as there are meat and cheese platters and tapas obtainable. We had been very conscious of time so didn’t hesitate in grabbing a desk on the terrace (with mountain views however no vines) and placing in our order. We every had a 3 wine tasting (you’ll be able to select from an inventory of wines) for R35 ($2.60/£2) and shared a cheese platter (R125/$9.40/£7.30) and potato skins (R40/$three/£2.30).
The meals got here somewhat slower than we appreciated however we managed to suit all of it in and even purchased some wine this time (a superb Chardonnay). We had been somewhat suspicious that the wines gave the impression to be getting higher at every cease! The cheese platter was additionally scrumptious and got here with apple chutney, crimson onion and wine marmalade, spicy nuts, and grapes. It was the right mild lunch and we’re glad we didn’t have a bigger meal in order that we may snack at numerous wineries as an alternative.
We had time for a fast recreation of big Jenga (croquet and boules are additionally obtainable) earlier than the bus turned up. Most individuals had opted for a two-hour keep at Mont Rochelle (you’ll be able to order a picnic in addition to eat within the restaurant), so there have been only some of us on the following bus trip.
Vineyard four: Le Lude
Le Lude was a really completely different expertise. We sat contained in the plush tasting room on comfy couches beneath elegant chandeliers. Though it was a disgrace to not have a view, the air con was welcome within the noon warmth. Le Lude solely makes Methode Cap Classique (MCC), the South African equal of champagne which is made utilizing the identical technique because the French model.
The tastings help you strive their two MCCs (one white, one rosé) plus an optionally available French champagne to match. I selected the 2 wine tasting, Simon went with three, and we each added a vegetarian canapé pairing as spherical two of our lunch—R140 ($10.50/£eight.10) with two wines and R200 ($15/£11.60) with the additional champagne. The generously poured bubbly was glorious and the canapés scrumptious, particularly the tempura French beans with roasted garlic aioli.
In a blind (however not likely because the champagne got here final so was colder) tasting Simon selected the champagne over the MCC, however we didn’t suppose it was definitely worth the 3x price ticket. We had been tempted to purchase a bottle of Le Lude’s MCC, but it surely’s considerably costlier and no higher than Graham Beck, our favorite South African bubbly that we tasted in Robertson.
Le Lude was quieter so we didn’t really feel rushed, though some extra time to benefit from the rose backyard and calm down on the deck chairs would have been good.
Vineyard 5: La Bri
At this level we had been positively feeling tipsy and questioned whether or not it was smart to proceed, however the promised chocolate pairing at La Bri sounded too good to withstand. The bus was fuller once more as many individuals who had stayed longer at Mont Rochelle had skipped Le Lude and caught up with us. Everybody was feeling jolly, but it surely hadn’t descended into obnoxious rowdiness as I feared it’d.
La Bri is a smaller, extra informal vineyard than the others. It’s one of many unique Huguenot wine farms relationship again to 1694. There’s a small terrace with three tables, however there wasn’t area after we arrived so we sat inside on the lengthy picket desk. Most individuals opted for one of many wine/meals pairings—chocolate, Turkish delight, or biltong (dried meat that’s very talked-about in South Africa). The chocolate pairing (R65/$four.90/£three.80) was scrumptious with every chocolate hand crafted to go with the flavour of the wine (all reds). The Merlot with darkish chocolate and cranberry and the Syrah with mint chocolate had been significantly good mixtures. The Syrah was the most effective crimson wines we tried in South Africa and we purchased a bottle to remove.
La Bri was the one place the place we completed our wine tasting in loads of time and had been in a position to calm down on a sofa on the terrace with a view of the harvest under.
We did have time to slot in a sixth vineyard, though La Bourgogne, which might have been my alternative, was disappointingly already closed. However it was four.30pm by the point we left La Bri and we’d been ingesting for six hours, so we determined to move again. It took about 20 minutes to return to the village as we picked up/dropped off individuals at La Bourgogne (which additionally does olive oil tastings), Holden Manz (which regarded prefer it had a incredible view) and La Couronne (the place you’ll be able to pair pizza with wine).
By the point we walked again to our lodge, we had been feeling pretty sober (definitely extra so than the glassy-eyed couple who missed the bus), but it surely didn’t take lengthy for the hangover to hit. I like to recommend not making dinner plans for the night time of the wine tram. You definitely gained’t really feel like extra wine, though Simon managed a glass of beer at our informal nachos dinner on the TukTuk Microbrewery. An early night time was appreciated!
Franschhoek Wine Tram Abstract
The Franschhoek Wine Tram was a enjoyable approach to spend the day. We had been in a position to go to extra wineries than we’d have by ourselves and never having to fret about driving was an enormous bonus. All of the wineries had been very completely different, so it’s laborious to decide on a favorite, and we’re glad we obtained to expertise the wine, meals and views at so many stunning wineries. (Rickety Bridge is the one one we’d have skipped.)
That stated, the wine tram isn’t an intimate expertise, and the group felt a bit massive, particularly in the beginning of the day. We additionally felt rushed at among the wineries. After all, you possibly can spend an additional hour at any of the wineries however we didn’t really feel like we wanted that a lot additional time.
If you’re a wine skilled, you’d in all probability want hiring a taxi for the day for the liberty to decide on the wineries and a extra private expertise. That is clearly much more costly, so for the typical traveller I like to recommend hopping aboard the wine tram for a enjoyable and reasonably priced approach to pattern the scrumptious wines of beautiful Franschhoek.
Franschhoek Wine Tram Ideas
- The Franschhoek wine tram is common so I like to recommend reserving your tickets prematurely on-line on the Franschhoek Wine Tram web site for R220 ($16/£12.50) per particular person.
- You possibly can acquire your tickets at the least 15 minutes earlier than the tour begins from the workplace within the centre of Franschhoek at 32 Huguenot Rd.
- If you happen to purchase any wine you’ll be able to go away it with the motive force (they use a sticker system) and choose it up on the ticket workplace on the finish of the tour.
- Franschhoek is just an hour from Cape City so you possibly can technically go to on a day journey (the wine tram can prepare transfers), however I extremely suggest spending at the least a number of nights on this beautiful village.
- We completely cherished our three-night keep at La Windfall, a classy B&B in a quiet location with beautiful views but walkable to the village. Learn an in depth assessment in our Franschhoek journey information.
- Eat a giant breakfast earlier than the wine tram and drink a lot of water all day.
- In early March after we visited it was extremely popular (30ºC) so take suncream. Within the winter you’ll want a jacket because the tram and bus are open-sided.
- If you’re travelling with a accomplice, take into account sharing among the tastings (particularly within the morning) because the pours are fairly beneficiant.
- Take a look at the wine tram timetables prematurely and plan your route as you gained’t be capable to go to all eight wineries on every line.
- That can assist you resolve which tram line, select the place you wish to have lunch (most wineries have menus on-line) and choose the road that matches. Having lunch on the third or 4th cease is a good suggestion. We actually loved the Inexperienced line and having a lightweight lunch at each Mont Rochelle and Le Lude labored completely for us.
- Begin at 10am to go to the utmost of six wineries.
- Be versatile along with your plan, although, and take into account staying longer at any wineries you’re keen on. Take your time and luxuriate in!
Don’t miss our submit on one of the best Franschhoek eating places and our detailed information to issues to do in Franschhoek.
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