This is one of the most gorgeous wine valleys in the Cape. Below we share a list of some of our favourite Franschhoek Wine Estates.
Franschhoek is known as the “gourmet capital” of the country and it is well worth settling in here for a few days to use it as a base for wine tasting and for enjoying some of the country’s top restaurants. Map of the Franschhoek region.
FAVOURITE FRANSCHHOEK WINE ESTATES:
Black Elephant Vintners is a small quirky winery with great wine. They call themselves the rebels of the wine industry. Check out their website. They break all the marketing rules. See more about them on an insert done by the BBC on them. Wine tastings by appointment. This is one of the most amazing tasting experiences you will ever have. They are hosted by one of the owners – Kevin. He does a wine and music pairing. You taste most of their range. So aim for just doing their tasting and a long lunch on the day. This is such fun. Note that you can book for a group of friends to come and do a silent disco and dance in his vineyards and drink wine……….I definitely want to to do that!
This is a fantastic boutique small champagne estate (MCC as it is called in South Africa!) It literally opened its doors at the end of 2015. The estate did its first harvest in 2012 and is the first winery in South Africa to produce the artisanal Agrafe bottle fermented sparkling wine. Agrafe (Tirage Liège) is the method of fermenting the wine under cork instead of crown cap. The tasting room is gorgeous and they offer a tasting of their Brut and Rose champers in their tasting room. The estate is owned by Nic & Ferda Barrow – they have two daughters – Olga- an interior designer – which explains why the tasting room and restaurant are gorgeous and another Nicolene who is a talented chef – a great combo! One can do the most delicious tapas style dishes with the champers tasting or do a tasting and stay for lunch in their new restaurant the Orangerie. Note that this restaurant and tasting room are easy to walk to from Franschhoek main road area. There is no need to book for tastings. Note that they are on the path of the wine tram – so they do have large numbers of people pouring in every hour!
Is a small boutique wine farm. The tastings are only done by the winemaker or assistant winemaker – making a visit very worthwhile. It is however best to call to let them know you are coming as they may be off doing deliveries – but even if you have not called – it is really worth popping in if you are driving past. Tel +27 21 867 0406. I enjoyed their wines – it is almost as if you can taste their passion in each bottle. They have an interesting range including a really nice Viognier.
Don’t miss this estate if you have some car fanatics in your family! L’Ormarins is home to the Franschhoek Motor Museum. Very few of us will have been privileged enough to have seen a car collection like this one. There are four halls of cars and they range from the first cars ever developed through to a collection reflecting the most significant changes in style over time, through to racing cars. This is well worth a visit and I would highly recommend it. Check out the website for more details of the car collection. The collection is owned by the Rupert family who are one of South Africa’s most wealthy families. The Ruperts now have their own estate tram that travels between the family’s two estates – L’Ormarins and Antonij Rupert Tasting Room on the estate next door. The tram trip takes you through the farm on a lovely journey that takes about half an hour. Fun for all ages. They leave from each of the farms every half an hour. I do not think there is a need to pre-book this unless it is in the busy season over Xmas. Note that the tram can be caught from either estate and is simply caught back to where you started.
Wow! This one is “must visit” when in the area. There is no lack of money here, as the estate is owned by Hanneli Rupert. The Rupert family are one of the most wealthy families in South Africa. Everything oozes style and taste and a women’s touch . They have a wonderfully warm and welcoming tasting area with very friendly staff. The wines are excellent – so it is well worth a stop. My favourites are the sauvignon blancs (one is organic) and the shiraz (The winemaker is recognised as one of the best for Shiraz in the country and they win many awards) The tasting room is very stylish and the tasting is beautifully presented on a silver tray with a lovely mini ciabatta bread to cleanse the palate. A plus is that you can walk through the barrel cellar after the tasting. They estate has its own “mini campus”. They offer wine tasting, an art gallery, a lovely little shop and a stylish restaurant called Pierneef at La Motte (tip – they have a great kids menu as well) The art gallery has a huge collection of Pierneef – a very famous South African artist and has a second hall that has rotating art from the family collection as well as an entrance area where you can learn more about the Rupert family. There is also a really lovely country store, giant chess pieces that you can play with and a demarcated hiking path around the farm (note for the walk you need to pre-book and you pay a small fee that then gives you the map and water (it also allows them to know who is walking on their farm!). You can also stay for lunch – the restaurant here is always lovely. They have always tried to make sure that the restaurant reflects the local South African flavours and produce. They have a kids menu as well!
This is located on the estate where Graham Beck was in Franschhoek. It was bought by Graham Beck’s neighbour – The Rupert family when Graham Beck died. They have done two tasting rooms on this estate – the Antonij Rupert tasting room – this is in the old Cape Dutch manor house that was the home of Graham Beck. Here they taste their top end range of wines and bubbles. You can book for an assortment of fun tasting options in this tasting room. They set you up in the wonderful garden. These tastings are by appointment. The second tasting room in the contemporary architecture building at the entrance is called The Terra Del Capo Tasting room – this one is home to their wonderful everyday value for money wines and their relaxed and wonderful restaurant. The restaurant outside may appear casual and relaxed – but it is real food – delicious fresh salads and burrata – wonderful!
Has a lovely outdoor garden style tasting area and great wines. You can combine a charcuterie board with the wine or stay for a fabulous vegan lunch! Odd – but fabulous combo! From a wine perspective their wines are great – I am a big fan of their champers (MCC) and their pinotage.
Glenwood little bit off the beaten track. I find their tasting room charmingly eclectic! They are renowned for their chardonnay & their shiraz. Franschhoek is well know for Chardonnay. It is one of the best varietals for the valley as the soils and the climate allow the grapes to ripen slowly with great intensity. Following the demand for unwooded chardonnay – they offer both the unwooded and wooded options – both are great. They also have a good merlot and syrah. Their credo is “Simple, Natural Quality” – as such they have joined the eco-conserving Biodiversity & Wine Initiative (BWI).
Are famous for their excellent wooded chardonnay. However over the last few years they have walked off with many of the local wine awards – and not just for chardonnay. This quaint little tasting room and is located on the edge of the village (but up the hill – don’t be tempted to walk unless you are really fit!). They have a lovely bistro style restaurant on the estate called Arkeste– this is located under the shady trees and is a perfect stop on a very hot summers day in Franschhoek. The restaurant is owned by a well known local chef – Richard Carstens. It is a lovely spot for lunch.
This is a tiny winery – they literally make one barrel of each of the wines they produce. Considering how small it is – the range is large! It ranges from fantastic champers (a brut and rose) through to reds and whites. I like all of her wines! The tasting is done on the terrace of their home on top of a mountain. This is one of the most special tastings one can do in the Cape Winelands – it is hosted by the owners and extremely personalised. Note that as they open the whole range – it is important to buy a few bottles while you are there! Tastings are in the morning on weekdays only (if they are there) – so you can either risk going or to be safe – make an appointment. (Note they are very close to the town of Franschhoek – located high on the mountain above the town)
Is home to the Pierre Jourdan range of MCC (champagne). This estate is a must for those in love with bubbles and a view. They recently revamped and are now able to fully capitalize on their amazing view. You can stay for a tasting, or a bottle of bubbles, or tapas or lunch. However – it is an idea to book as they are on the route of the wine tram and you can arrive and find it choca block full. Book in the restaurant area for the best view! If you are keen to learn more about how champagne is made – book in advance for their cellar tours – 11am or 3pm on weekdays to do a cellar tour and learn how champagne is made. The tour is fascinating. On a Saturday at 11am they include Sabrage in the cellar tour and the tour is often conducted by the owner of the farm or by a family member. The Saturday tour will well worth doing as it is informative and lots of fun. Note that Cabriere also do a really interesting pinot noir and chardonnay blend as well as the Tranquille – which is a still champagne. This estate is also perfectly located for anyone who does not have a car and is staying in the village as it is within walking distance of the village. N They now have outside and inside tables – so this is a nice option for lunch.
Is in my opinion, this estate has the best wine in the valley and should not be missed! They have however taken the decision to close their tasting room and to operate on a pre-booking system for wine tasting. To complicate matters further they would like to concentrate the bookings on a Tuesday or Thursday at 11am. The wine tastings will be hosted by one of the wine makers. (Update August 2015). Lets see how that plan works out for them! The main thing to note is that if you wish to try their wines – you will need to email them to book! This is to be able to taste some of their Boekenhoutskloof premium range. Boekenhoutskloof have four brands:
- Porcupine Ridge, which is their second label and is sold at a reasonable price for everyday drinking
- Chocolate Block – this is a blend of 5 varietals and its name comes from the spicy and chocolate nose and taste. What is interesting is that the grapes for this wine come from a variety of areas. This wine has become enormously popular and sought after.
- Wolftrap – the local legend goes that Franschhoek used to have wolves that roamed the mountains and that with gnashing of teeth used to howl at night and scare the villagers into their homes. They thought it was only a legend until they found a wolftrap on the farm. The Wolftrap red is a blend of Syrah, Mouvedre and Grenache.
- Boekhoutskloof – this is their premium range and consists of a Semillon (Noble late harvest), Shiraz and a Cabernet Sauvignon (they only open one out of the three each day for tasting – so you will have to look out for the others on wine menus and make sure you experience them as they are all exceptional)
Haut Espoir is owned by Rob Armstrong who is madly passionate about plants and nature. It is a fantastic small boutique wine farm. I would highly recommend you visit. The welcome at Haut Espoir is always warm. The tastings are conducted in the cellar and you can also book for a cellar tour. Their focus is on conservation and they are transitioning towards becoming fully biodynamic. They produce an interesting mix of wines including semillon, chardonnay, cab, shiraz and a red blend. Tasting during the week from 11am to 4pm and on a Saturday until 1pm. Note I would recommend booking in advance.
They are family owned and run. Half the fun of visiting lies in the drive to the farm, which is gorgeous. It has a intimate tasting room with a fireplace for winter and a lovely outside area for tasting in summer. The wines are extremely good and to me it feels like you can taste the wine makers passion. I would highly recommend a visit. It is best when you find a family member behind the counter, but still a good experience when the tasting centre lady is there. These are well priced accessible wines!
This is a boutique winery and a restaurant. The location of the restaurant is one of the best in the winelands and boast sweeping views of the Franschhoek valley. I would strongly recommend you make a booking for this restaurant if you are in the area. A visit is an exercise in relaxation. Locals usually plan on spending the whole afternoon here. After lunch we retreat back to the lawn and relax and enjoy the view. All of the estates wines are available by the glass – so pair each course with one of the estates wines.