Weekend Wanderings: Visiting Franschhoek in Winter

My ultimate romantic weekend destination has to be Franschhoek. Located within an hour of Cape Town, tucked beneath soaring mountains, surrounded by rolling vineyards and home to some of the best food and wine experiences in the country, it is hard to beat!

For obvious reasons, this little “corner of France” is quite popular with tourists and locals alike, especially in the peak of tourist season…

Fortunately I’ve found a solution… to visit Franschhoek in winter!

Franschhoek is gorgeous all year round and fortunately it is #OpenforWinter.

We visited in late May and discovered bright blue skies, crisp clear mornings and incredible autumnal hues all across the valley.

After a Saturday morning of kids sport we headed out on the N2, dropping our kids off at their respective sleep overs we arrived in Franschhoek at 1pm and made our first stop at the Shiraz & Charcuterie Festival at Antonji Rupert Wyne.

After a relaxed time spent savouring the best of South African Shiraz in the rather warm-for-winter weather, we headed into town stopping off at The River Cafe on the main road, lured by the site of the shaded patio under the weeping willow tree.

Here we discovered that aside from a delectable selection of French pastries, they also have an Italian gelato offering which tempted us even more than coffee and cake!

Our accommodation for the night was up the Verdun valley road, Rose Cottages, offers a selection of self-catering accommodation in three cottages.

Our 2 bedroomed cottage – The Vines – was aptly named as it was situated right in the middle of the vines!

This spot would be ideal in summer as it has a plunge pool with the most incredible views of the surrounding mountains, a shaded patio and comfortable sun loungers.

Inside The Vines cottage has an open plan lounge and kitchen, a main en-suite and another en-suite bedroom with two single beds located on a mezzanine level.

As the evening crept in we moved indoors and enjoyed a roaring fire while preparing for our evening meal at Chefs Warehouse at Maison.

If you are looking for a culinary experience that introduces you to spectacular tastes and tests the boundaries of conventional fine dining, then going to Chefs Warehouse should be on your bucket list.

On this crisp evening the sight of the warm light emanating from Chefs Warehouse at Maison was enticing, the moody lighting a promise of a special experience to come…

We drifted into the welcoming warmth to discover a flickering fireplace in the corner, while the unseasonably warm air meant that the patio area was full. We opted to sit indoors to enjoy the ambience created by being within sight of the busy kitchen.

The oak-cladded ceiling and kitchenalia shop makes the whole space feel warm and cozy.

On the shelf we were greeted by some rather elegant, stately wine bottles, promising to be the perfect companions for whatever dishes we were about to enjoy.

The toasty, dry mouthfeel of the 100% Chardonnay Methode Cap Classique set the tone for the rest of the evening as we sat down at our table.

I elected to enjoy small amounts of a few of their other varietals to compliment the taste sensations.

Chefs Warehouse offers a tapas for 2 menu which we were only too happy to sit back and enjoy whatever delights were delivered to our table….

Here is a peek at the menu to whet your appetite. It certainly was one of the very best meals we’ve enjoyed, ever!

The starter Beef Sirloin Pastrami was matched with the Maison Shiraz 2015. Aged in oak for 12 months, winemaker Antwan Bondesio keeps things natural. Adding ‘nothing’ to the process keeps this wine honest, reflecting the very terroir in which these grapes were grown. The medium full bodied Shiraz with muted spice and cigar box matched with earthly undertones.

I always enjoy a glass of Viognier, and therefore indulged in the Maison Viognier 2016, pairing it with everything!

My husband found opted to pair each dish with a recommended wine and both demanded his attention equally.

Few experiences fill me with joy more than Parmesan Risotto paired with a perfect Chardonnay. The risotto was perfect, and the 2017 Maison Chardonnay the ideal compliment adding a balance of creamy oak and crisp acidity to this dish.

For dessert we treated ourselves to a slice of the Peanut Butter chocolate tart served with bitter chocolate ice cream, peanut praline and dulce de leche.

We also opted to sample the selection of Laurence Smith bon bons on offer. These were a delight and the perfect way to end off our amazing evening at Chefs Warehouse.

The next morning we awoke to enjoy an incredible view from our bed – the sun was peeping over the Hugenot mountains, setting the yellow leaves on the vines alight…

As we were only in Franschhoek for 24 hours we wanted to make the most of every minute so, even though our accommodation was self-catering, we enjoyed every meal out. This is the foodie capital of South Africa after all!

We headed to the main road where we met up with JJ from Tuk Tuk Franschhoek.

Now most people have heard of the awesome Franschhoek Wine Tram experience, but if you’ve done that before (a few times) then you may want to try something new for your next visit to the valley… and THIS is it!

The Franschhoek Tuk Tuk

Hop aboard your own private tuk tuk and get transported around the valley in the most unique way possible…

This is such a fun way to do a wine farm tour for a full or half day. Our tuk tuk trip took us from the heart of the town up to Leeu Estate where we enjoyed breakfast at our leisure, a short tour of the estate to admire the beautiful gardens and the incredible art collection, before our drive came back to collect us.

I’ve been on a tuk tuk before in Jakarta, but it was the first time my husband had been on one and we both had the ride of our lives!

Our only wish was that our kids could have the same awesome experience!

We’ll certainly be back – to the tuk tuk and to Franschhoek.


Kathryn Rossiter

Kathryn is a South African lifestyle blogger and mom of 2 who has been blogging daily for over 9 years! She writes about travel, health, beauty, fashion, decor and family... but not food (unless it's food she's eaten made by someone else) as she is a hopeless cook. She only wakes up early for 2 things... a red-eye flight to somewhere exotic and early morning game drives. She has just finished an extensive home renovation and would prefer to never see another box again. She's never met a chocolate or glass of bubbles that she didn't like!


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