26 Jun COLLECTING EXPERIENCES, NOT THINGS: WINE FARM HOPPING IN FRANSCHHOEK, SOUTH AFRICA
Our motto and motivation is to “collect experiences, not things”. Whilst on our journey, we’re aiming to spend our time and money on spectacular experiences, to be left with incredible learnings and memories, not tangible objects. This way, we’re sure to keep our lives light without additional luggage, but also be the change we want to see in the world.
Our next featured experience is wine farm hopping in Franschhoek, South Africa.
Ah, Franschhoek. Just saying the name out loud brings all the happy feels inside. If you don’t know Franschhoek (and no happy feels were felt whilst reading the last sentence), let me introduce you to one of our country’s oldest towns (dating back to the French Huguenot settlement of 1688) and (arguably) the food and wine capital of South Africa. It’s a small town, nestled in the Berg River Valley, situated in the Western Cape, only an hour away from beautiful Cape Town (and if you haven’t heard of Cape Town, then, well, let me know in the comments and I’ll schedule a Skype call with you to tell you personally why you should know about and love Cape Town)…but I digress.
With my 32nd birthday popping up in our calendar, I knew I wanted to do something somewhat sophisticated (eating 20-course meals at Noma in Copenhagen for my 30th seemed like a difficult thing to beat, yet we managed to turn my 32nd into a full blown week of classy celebrations). Cue our roadtrip to (and through) beautiful Franschhoek, and this guide that we have put together for your perusal (because trust me, you’re not going to want to skip this neck of the proverbial woods, even if your budget and time is limited).
So go pour yourself a glass of Chardonnay, sit back, and enjoy the read:
If you have…a tight budget, with very little time
Perhaps your fly-by trip to South Africa is not the longest, and you only have a couple days to spare? Maybe you only have a day to do some wine tasting, and you’re looking for the best option with the least amount of strain on your itinerary? Or maybe you want to do a weekend getaway in Franschhoek, but you’d prefer to spend your monies on wines for your cellar back home, and not on your temporary accommodation?
Luckily Franschhoek has loads of guest houses, small cottages, and even an array of Airbnbs available for rent right in the middle of town, so while you’re out doing wine tastings and shopping for crafty souvenirs, you can get away with paying only US$50 per night for a shared room off-season in the Winter, (or closer to US$100 during Summer’s peak season).
Side note: there’s also a cute tram service available (which we sadly ran out of time to actually experience) for wine farm hopping (with transfers available from Cape Town and nearby Stellenbosch), so if you’re only there for one day, you could easily get a multitude of tastes of the “French Corner’s” grape goodness, simply by kicking back and taking a scenic ride.
If you have…a little more budget, and a little more time
Maybe time is on your side (and so is your banker) and you’d prefer to leave with memories of sunset perusals through vineyards, morning farmhouse breakfasts prepared for you by your own Manor House chef, and scenic selfies in front of the famed Cape Dutch homes, built over 200 years ago? Well, if that’s the case, then let us introduce you to the Rickety Bridge Winery (and the adjacent sister property, Basse Provence). Both 4-star accommodations will leave you with the ultimate Cape Dutch experience, and you won’t need to go far for delectable dishes á la carte, and (of course) wine to die for (my favourite being the Rickety Bridge Shiraz), as their gorgeous restaurant and ‘tasting room in the vines’ positioned next to the Rickety Bridge Manor House. Hosting close on 70 weddings per year (I know right, that’s more than one a week!) you can rest assured that time spent here will be unforgettable (especially if you get the property tour from Martha, the lovely hostess looking after you at Rickety Bridge).
You can expect to pay US$100 for a room for two people at Basse Provence, and close on US$185 per room at the more-spacious-and-closer-to-the-restaurant-and-tasting-centre Rickety Bridge.
If you have…a desire to treat yourself, beyond comprehension
Maybe you’re tired of the chaos of city life and you want to get away…get away and reenergize your creative juices in the Franschhoek Valley? Maybe you want to stroll through vineyards, read books to the sound of fountains, enjoy your regular afternoon yoga routine in a private studio, then eat four-course meals partnered with the perfect Cab Sav? Maybe sitting by a crackling fire enjoying your afternoon high tea, browsing at some of South Africa’s most talented contemporary artists’ work appeals to you? Maybe you want to have a luxurious facial or full body massage using only the best grape-seed-infused local ingredients (because being smothered in delicious grape ingredients only seems like the right thing to do when visiting South Africa’s most esteemed wine region) followed by a riverside picnic, overlooking the vineyards, is really what you want?
Well, if a treat is what you’re after, then staying at the 5-star, self-confessed “hidden gem of Franschhoek” Holden Manz Wine Estate will blow your wine-loving socks off. After only opening its (official) doors in 2011, Holden Manz has already established itself as one of the country’s best. Hearing stories from the breakfast chef, Lameck, and seeing the passion for the family-run establishment come through when chatting to the friendly Country House Manager, Eneil, will only make you fall more in love with the place, forcing you to enjoy yet another glass of their famous Big G wine (seriously recommended).
One room will cost you US$230 per night, with luxury amenities, kind staff, and enlightening creative atmosphere included.
If you’re already a fan of Franschhoek (and knew what I meant by happy feels at the beginning of this post), and have a favorite winery to recommend, please pop it in the comments below.