Ever since I set my first footsteps in South Africa in 2007 and did the whistlestop wine tour, I have wanted to do a proper wine trail. I have wanted the whole staying at a (preferably) working vineyard, being able to amble around the vines and taste wines (a bit of a tongue twister right there) and just steep my soul in this part of the world for a while.
Well folks, sometimes – dreams do come true! I finally got my wish and wangled a proper wine trail whilst in SA this time round! Given that we had spent time in Stellenbosch the last trip, we settled on the fairytale like town of Franschhoek for my “wineventure” . The drive from Cape Town down to Franschhoek took about an hour, and before we knew it, we were driving into the Holden Manz Wine Estate, a working vineyard and home for the next 4 nights!
Tucked away in the Franschhoek valley and shadowed by Franschhoek Mountains, Holden Manz is a stunning country house set on a working vineyard, run by a lovely couple who rent out their home – but sadly we did not get to interact with them much. Nevertheless, the staff were fantastic, the home absolutely beautiful and the scene perfect for some great adventures! The vines had just been planted though, and so we were not able to frolic in them as I had hoped, but I was still excited to be here!
Our first afternoon consisted of exploring the tiny town of Franschhoek. Now, if you are anything like me – a hopeless romantic and a huge, huge fan of Lorelai Gilmore and the Gilmore Girls, you will love, love love Franschhoek because it is what I imagine a real life Stars Hollow to look like. Coffee shops, restaurants, bistros and small bric a brac shops line the main street (and there is only one) and everyone is so friendly, and so happy! I would be too, if I lived in such a quaint little town where everyone knows my name! We walked past the ice cream shop at the corner of the main street and got offered some ice cream that was so good we had to buy a scoop, sit down in the sunshine and enjoy it while watching the world go by – totally what I imagined this kind of adventure to be.
There are a tonne of great places to eat at while out here – although, being a bit of a sleepy town – everyone eats early and most restaurants are closed by about 10:00 pm. We ate at the coveted Bread and Wine, Rubens and of course, at the Holden Manz Restaurant – and not to be biased or anything – I enjoyed the food here more than anywhere else – especially because we chose the pairing menu, and got to sample some of the estate’s wines with dinner. One tip I would have for you is that if you know where you want to eat, then book as soon as you can so as not to be disappointed – and to be fed!
What does one do when in wine country? Why, drink wine of course! (I must confess that I am enjoying a glass of the good stuff as I write this post and reminisce about my time in Franschhoek). The one thing I loved about this Stars Hollowesque like place was that it has a Wine Tram, which takes you to most of the Wine Estates scattered around the area – almost like a “hop on hop off” bus and this works for me in a myriad of ways – not least that I can get to amble in almost all the vineyards, and I can taste wine to my hearts content without worrying about driving or how I am getting home!
I will delve more into the Wine Tram, how it works and the wine estates I chose to visit in my next post – for now, I will leave you with these stunning pictures of a charming town!