While summer always brings about dreams of weekend getaways, the urge to get out of town has frankly never been stronger. But the age-old question remains: Where, exactly, should I go? For wine lovers and for travelling gourmands in the age of experiential and photo-op-driven journeying, gourmet wine tasting holidays in the Cape Winelands provide a deeper, more concrete connection to the land itself. And while oenophiles will love sampling the riches, there’s also plenty to do outside the vineyards, too. Here, we pick the best of the bunch that promise tastings – and trips – to remember.
For foodies: La Petite Ferme
A delicious destination deep in the Cape Winelands
To escape from urban life for a rural recharge, it doesn’t get much more wonderfully stylish than this. As you wind your way up the gently sloping Franschhoek Pass, an atmospheric hotel and restaurant on working farmland comes into view. The payoff is well worth it – at this site, in a dramatic location slightly out of town, great wine stands alongside great architecture. La Petite Ferme’s name, translating to ‘the little farm’, is a hint at the immersion in the superb setting in the rolling vineyards that guests experience here. The winning combination of staggering natural beauty, greedy gulps of fresh air and leave-your-worries-at-the-plane-door way of life is what makes La Petite Ferme the ultimate Cape Winelands holiday destination. Once you’ve wrapped your mind around the greenery below and the wide-ranging blue skies above, head to the Vineyard Suites with contemporary interiors for a luxe farm stay that may end up luring you away for longer than a weekend. With just five standalone suites, it’s an exquisite collection of secluded and spacious themed rooms that offer understated luxury and low-key elegance. For a special occasion, we recommend booking the extravagant yet unpretentious Florentin Suite to celebrate in glorious style. Sporting a private front deck from which to look out at the stunning views, here you can drink in panoramic vistas from your own plunge pool or get a peek of rural working life on a weekend break. The steeply terraced vines, juxtaposed against the water that dances from peacock green to sapphire blue, are ultra-picturesque. Step inside your suite, hidden amongst the dense foliage, and this is where the fabulously jarring modernity creeps in – note the muted colours (soft green and delicate duck-egg blue), minimal furnishings, fragrant flower arrangements, smart TV, fireplace, air-conditioning, underfloor and particularly sumptuous king-size bed made up with Egyptian-cotton sheets. The pristine spa-like bathroom is a minimalist mix of marble and black tapware, so you can revel in an opulent home-from-home. Unwinding in the deep, stark-white bathtub – with TheraVine merlot and cabernet skincare products – while you try to fathom how you’re less than an hour from Cape Town is unavoidable at this lavish retreat. However, the jewel in La Petite Ferme’s crown is the staff, who ensure every whim is catered for and every celebration unforgettable. Food is serious business: Breakfast, served poolside or in the lovely indoor-outdoor restaurant as Franschhoek wakes below you, is a slick operation with implausibly yellow eggs. The three-course dinner is a highlight, too – the kitchen team has a reputation for producing dishes as beautiful as the gardens that surround them. Bright colours pop from the plate, edible flowers are scattered decoratively and desserts arrive as pretty as a picture. But this is no window dressing; underneath it all are solid, serious flavours – the delight of diving into heirloom tomatoes and Foxenburg goat’s cheese mousse, seared salmon trout with a drizzle of lime hollandaise or caramel fudge tart served with passion fruit yoghurt sorbet. This under-the-radar sanctuary is perfect for gastronomic getaways from the city.
Cost: From R10,516 per night for two adults
Lambrechts Road (Franschhoek Pass Road), Franschhoek
021 876 3016
For wine buffs: Banhoek Lodge
A secret walking holiday to stretch your legs
The temptations of the Cape Winelands are hard to resist, but they’re not without their behind-the-scenes stressors. There’s the Google mapping, the hours-checking and, of course, the driving. One of the joys of a visit to Banhoek Lodge is the ability to pop from winery to winery with ease. Set amid hectares of hillside splendour on Helshoogte Pass, where the roads are practically paved with cabernet sauvignon and merlot, you can sip and stroll your way through the idyllic Banhoek Valley. The seven-room hideaway is sweet, intimate and easy to get comfortable in. If you took impeccable South African manners, mixed in a clear sense of pride in the property, and added a genuine desire to delight, you’d have the Banhoek Lodge staff. They’re always ready to help you find your way around and have excellent recommendations for restaurants and to-dos. You’ll find that everything is straightforward and seamless. There are thoughtfully decorated Luxury Rooms here, but the Suites and Deluxe Suites are, if anything, even better. Inside is an open-plan masterpiece of air and light: Calm and sufficiently spacious, with muted earthy textiles set against cosy-chic mountain-lodge-inspired accents, all brightened by floor-to-ceiling windows. The clean, modern design mixes raw materials that lend an inviting warmth with luxurious touches like radiant heated floors and a DStv-equipped flat-screen TV – and the location can’t be beat. Our suite had a base palette of taupe, grey and off-white, an indoor seating for admiring the view or reading, a great balcony, plenty of storage and a freestanding bath from where you can lie back and see the vineyards. A huge viewing window faced the garden, which in summer is shrouded with flowers freshly dampened by the rain. The eternal landscape, nature-filled views and sky-blazing sunrises are what sold it to the owners – it’s not hard to fall under the same spell. For breakfast, the menu is rustic but wholesome and inventive. The deceptively virtuous ‘South African omelette’ – filled with cheese, sliced biltong and caramelised onion, served with deliciously golden-brown homemade bread – tastes sensational. A mere hop up or down the road reveals a host of working farms, outdoorsy diversions and, of course, excellent winery stops set against the Hottentots Holland Mountains. Zorgvliet Wine Estate and Thelema Mountain Vineyards are right on the doorstep – walk down with your complimentary wine-tasting vouchers after breakfast before the crowds spill in. Then, spend the afternoon exploring Camberley Wines, Le Pommier Wine Estate and Bartinney Wines, compact enough to do on foot through fields and twisting mountain roads. Two can’t-miss wineries are Tokara Wine Estate (get the MCC Blanc de Blancs made from 100% chardonnay) and Delaire Graff Estate (try the Cabernet Franc Rosé). Stop for lunch at Tokara Restaurant – the apple cider-braised pork belly, served with parsnip, toasted almond flakes, Brussels sprouts, mange tout, and a bacon and maple jus, is the talk of the town. Nearby, the beloved Boschendal is a fun stop with a sleek restaurant where you can sample the 1685 or premium range. While winter allows for less-crowded tasting rooms and the blossoms of springtime provide breathtaking scenery, true oenophiles opt for harvest season, during January, February and March.
Cost: From R3,200 for a Luxury Room, R3,800 for a Suite or R4,200 for a Luxury Suite per night for two adults
Helshoogte Road (R310), Stellenbosch
074 108 5003
For adventure: Boschendal Orchard Cottages
A back-to-the-land farm stay worlds away from the bright lights
Sometimes a bit of space and quiet is all that’s required. Throw in clean design, whippet-fast Wi-Fi and the most modern of mod-cons and you get Boschendal’s fresh, neutral-toned Orchard Cottages. Amid a collective craving for more rural surroundings, these beautifully restored cottages set 2km from the main Werf area (you’ll need a car) are indulgent heaven on rarefied earth. Although the cottages themselves flaunt their elegance, interiors are minimalist and more about texture than colour – taupe, greys and whites breeze through the rooms, elevated by jute rugs, handcrafted ceramics, colour-saturated Le Creuset stoneware for morning coffees and fleece blankets for wrapping up to watch the sunset with an ice-cold glass of rosé. Then there’s the terrace, which catches the dusk light just right and is ideal for sunbathing, stargazing or sitting out on listening to birdsong. A wood burner, freestanding tub and sofa that seems to engulf every limb keep things snug in winter (or, let’s face it, those chilly Franschhoek summer evenings). Our cosy and eco-considered one-bedroom cottage was an escapist space that embodied that kick-off-your-shoes feeling of staying at a friend’s home. The scent of wild rosemary and lavender filled the air … it was perfect. In terms of venturing outside the cottage’s walls, here you can indulge yourself in a wide array of leisurely pursuits – including a walking farm tour, guided hike as well as open access to the running and mountain biking trails. Breakfast is served in the sunshine-bathed Werf Restaurant with special views of the ever-present misty peaks. The food is locally grown, with hyper-seasonal vegetables plucked from the earth moments before serving. The wonderfully exotic organic oats with toasted coconut, almonds and apple is a winner every time, as is the garden kale and spring onion hash served with two fried eggs, crispy potatoes, chilli oil and garlic emulsion of the creamiest kind. Part of the tradition is to pair your meal with a mimosa made with Boschendal Méthode Cap Classique Brut. It’s hardly a secret that The Deli at Boschendal is the home of preserving, salting, brining, pickling, fermenting, curing and drying some of nature’s most interesting offerings. Before heading back to your cottage at the end of the day for a meal cooked up in the modern kitchen, you’d be doing yourself a disservice to overlook this gem. You can get farm-fresh eggs, a still-warm Huguenot cheese wedge, bobbing blobs of full-cream jersey yoghurt, briny green olives with lemon and thyme, slices of fatty prosciutto, rich oils and astringent vinegars … along with everything else you never knew you needed. A place of deep seclusion and romance, a stay at the self-catering Boschendal Orchard Cottages is an informal lesson in rekindling a connection to nature and its rhythms. In summer, the farm comes alive with chickens pecking around, the fruit trees in flower and the braai area on the terrace ready for sunny lunches. This is a considered spin on charming country living done to the highest spec.
Sleeps: Up to eight
Cost: From R2,660 for a one-bedroom, R4,200 for a two-bedroom one-bathroom, R5,250 for a two-bedroom two-bathroom or R7,000 for a three-bedroom three-bathroom cottage per night
Boschendal, R310 Pniel Road, Groot Drakenstein, Franschhoek
021 870 4271
For privacy: Jordan Luxury Suites
A place that sparks the flame and sets the mood
For couples who love their wine, this exclusive cluster of suites set in a vineyard is nothing short of nirvana. Plush, private villas in glorious isolation that also offer all the best bits about checking into a hotel … that’s the promise at Jordan Luxury Suites. The sleek modern interiors of the 12 suites – which includes four Classic Suites, two Deluxe Suites, four Superior Suites and two Two-Bedroom Suites – are uncluttered and unpretentiously elegant. They’re separated by lush gardens, so you’ll feel as though there’s no one else around. Our Superior Suite in a slew of grey tones ranging from charcoal to soft pewter was done with incredible taste; it was full of clean lines and just enough decoration to make it feel lived in. But minimalist it was not. It overflowed with romantic touches – fluffy duvets, fine linens, layers of texture and fragrant natural bath products – rivalled only by the enchanting unbroken vistas. There were also some distinctly modern additions in the zen-luxe bathroom, such as twin sinks, a walk-in shower and a heated towel rail. As you recline for a soak, you might be tempted to just bed down in here. The large, open-plan living area got plenty of use, too. A romantic weekend getaway might include a cosy fireplace with a glass of Jordan Black Magic Merlot or a farm-to-table dinner basket filled with artisanal bread and butter, a garden salad, short ribs braised in red wine with truffled crème fraîche mash and patisserie of the day. There are two restaurants – The Cellar Door and The Jordan Restaurant (open for lunch and dinner on Friday and Saturday, and for lunch only on Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday) – which is a good thing because the closest restaurants are 15 minutes away by car in Stellenbosch Central. Breakfast truly is the meal of myriad options. And, luckily for you, The Cellar Door caters to every possible whim. Rise and shine and take advantage of breakfast at the hotel, included in the room rate. The homemade bagel with locally farmed salmon trout, spring onion crème fraîche, red onion marmalade, deep-fried capers, cucumber and lettuce makes for an indulgent start to the day, plus there’s a healthy breakfast that also ticks the taste box – apple and sage pork sausage, streaky bacon, sautéed white mushrooms, two pasture-raised eggs and seeded rye bread. The eggs line-up is benedict or softly scrambled in a croissant breakfast sandwich. Teas, coffees and fresh juices are also on offer. Don’t forget to visit for wine tasting on your way out – sauvignon blanc and chardonnay are Jordan’s prized grapes, but their wine portfolio also includes chenin blanc, rosé, merlot, cabernet sauvignon, Syrah, Riesling and MCC. Try a flight at the beautiful tasting room with your partner before hitting the road. The complex soil is largely responsible for vivacious sauvignons such as The Outlier Sauvignon Blanc, a smooth wine whose tropical fruit notes lend it an exotic edge. The estate’s medium-bodied The Long Fuse cabernet sauvignon – with pure fruit, fresh acidity, fine tannins and a long, savoury finish – is equally outstanding.
Sleeps: Up to four
Cost: From R2,800 for a Classic Suite, R3,800 for a Deluxe Suite, R4,900 for a Superior Suite or R5,800 for a Two-Bedroom Suite per night
Jordan Wine Estate, Stellenbosch Kloof Road, Vlottenberg, Stellenbosch
021 881 3441