Wine tasting in Franschhoek

On Saturday, Al and I drove an hour outside Cape Town to Franschhoek (“French Corner” in Dutch), which is considered the food and wine capital of South Africa.  Our plan was to go wine tasting and also check out a few of the area’s restaurants.


The day started off cold and drizzly.  Our first stop was a restaurant/wine bar called, appropriately, Bread & Wine.  We got a charcuterie board/cheese plate and two glasses of wine (sauvignon blanc for Al, chenin blanc for me).  Yum.

Cheese plate number 1

Next, we headed to a winery called Leopard’s Leap, which looked from the outside like a cool, European library, and looked on the inside like a trendy boutique hotel that mated with a cool, European library.

The wine was pretty good but nothing to write home about (blogging doesn’t count).

Even though Al was driving and I was free to get as boozy as I wanted, I ended up dumping out most of my wine, since apparently the South Africans believe in very hefty tasting pours.  I think the girl at Leopard’s Leap must have served me the equivalent of 7 glasses of wine. Whoa, nelly.

I call this picture “Ghost Pillar”

After Leopard’s Leap, we checked out Rickety Bridge winery, which had the best wines we tasted all day.

The tasting system there was interesting: you sit down at a table, a waiter comes up, you tell him which wines you want to taste, and he brings them.

Theoretically, you could taste all the wines on the menu with no charge, but there seems to be an underlying assumption that you will purchase at least one bottle at the end.  We bought a couple of bottles to take home and our second cheese plate of the day.

Cheese plate number 2

Then, we headed to Grande Provence winery, which was in a really beautiful space and had an attached gallery full of contemporary South African art.  Pretty cool.

Grande Provence tasting room

Our favorite part of Grande Provence was the fireplace.

Our last stop was The Kitchen, a restaurant attached to Maison winery.  Another very cool space.

Our hosts in Cape Town, Hillary and Alfred, had recommended The Kitchen for having great food, but when we got there (close to 4), the kitchen was closed and they were only serving – you guessed it – cheese plates.  So, we had our THIRD cheese plate of the day, plus two glasses of rose. Nom.

Cheese plate number 3

By the time we drove back to Cape Town, I was conked out in the car.  Al took a picture of me while I was sleeping and left me in the car to go show Hillary and Alfred. Thanks, honey.  I won’t post that one, but I’ll share this one instead:

Wine tasting makes us happy

Overall, I was impressed with the wine and food in Franschhoek, and it was a really beautiful, peaceful place.  As we drove around, we kept comparing the surroundings to other places: Sonoma, Krems an der Donau (Austria), even Virginia – but it was actually pretty unique. We both really loved it.

I think it’s safe to say we’ll be coming back here again.

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