Cape Winelands Travel Guide
Our itinerary for the Cape Winelands was pretty packed with vineyards considering we had a 16mth old with us. Surprisingly, I think she enjoyed this part of the trip as much as us though!
Many people choose to visit the Cape Winelands as a day trip from Cape Town. We stayed for two nights though and would have happily extended it. It’s a beautiful part of the country with plenty to see and do. If you’re deciding how many nights to do make it at least one.
After checking out of our hotel in Cape Town we headed straight to Stellenbosch to join a mid-morning walking tour. After the tour our first stop was Tokara for lunch and wine tasting.
Tokara is the brainchild of South African banker and businessman – GT Ferreira and he’s done everything right. From employing top winemaker – Stuart Botha, to filling the grounds with beautiful sculptures by Marco Cianfanelli. It’s no wonder the Chardonnay is repeatedly voted one of the top 10 in the world.
We ate in the delicatessen which was perfect for family dining. The food was good and plentiful and Aurelia was well catered for. There is an additional restaurant if you want something more formal which has very good reviews.
Adjacent to the terrace a new children’s area was under construction. Toddlers can swing in a nest in a huge old oak tree that stands in the courtyard.
After a wander in the sculpture garden and a stop to see the peacocks we enjoyed a tasting of Tokara’s Flagship Collection in the main building. Our wine expert (who was unfortunately lacking in enthusiasm) brought us four glasses of wine – Reserve Collection Elgin Sauvignon Blanc 2018, Directors Reserve White 2016, Reserve Collection Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 and Directors Reserve Red 2016. All four were very good but with many tastings ahead of us we decided not to buy any to take home.
The next stop was Delaire Graff – the same Graff family responsible for the beautiful diamonds that many ladies lust after. We originally booked to eat lunch here, but on the day Aurelia was overtired and cranky so we had a last minute change of plan. On reflection the terrace was huge with amazing views and I don’t think she would have annoyed the other diners. Instead we had a walk around the hotel, the restaurants and beautiful gardens before heading to our hotel in Franschhoek.
Franschhoek Hotel & Spa
Our hotel base whilst in the Cape Winelands was the Franschhoek Hotel & Spa. In most parts it’s a beautiful hotel with amazing mountain views. Our suite had a mezzanine which allowed us to put Aurelia upstairs rather than a few feet away from us. The room was lovely and modern but not all are as nice. The villa’s are especially tired, small and in desperate need of an update – they’re really not worth paying the extra for.
After a relaxing shower and unpacking we made our way to Reubens for dinner. It was delicious and exciting just as it’s renowned to be but it wasn’t toddler friendly. Despite having to eat in relay which made the dinner take over 3 hours we did enjoy it and will absolutely return – sans child.
Franschhoek Wine Tram
The next morning after a delicious breakfast we caught an Uber into town to enjoy the hop-on-hop-off wine tram and be transported around the valley. We pre-purchased tickets for the blue route but I would also recommend the purple route. It’s definitely worth looking up the vineyards that each route stops at and buying tickets beforehand. It can be incredibly popular during the summer.
Our bus/tram combination stopped at eight different wineries but even if you do a full day you cannot visit them all as there’s not enough time. Those that we chose to stop at are:
They were all very different but the standout winery from the list above is Grand Provence. It was absolutely stunning and easy to see why it’s a popular venue for weddings. After disembarking the tram you’re transported by tractor to the main tasting and bistro area. It was great fun for children and adults alike.
We had planned to spend two hours here so we went in search of the onsite Cheetah Outreach centre. Jonathan was able to stroke one of the magnificent cats and it was an unforgettable experience.
Up near the main restaurant there is a beautiful sculpture garden with sculptures curated by Jean-Marié Olivier and Pieter Lategan.
After a leisurely and fun day on the tram we stopped for a quick freshen up back at the hotel before dinner at Le Petit Ferme.
Le Petit Ferme
We arrived at sunset and wandered through their peacock filled gardens before our three course meal with a now sleeping toddler. The restaurant was full and unfortunately the service was slow and disappointing. We had to wait a very long time between courses but they were enjoyable once they did. Considering the reputation the restaurant has I was definitely expecting more. Le Petit Ferme produce their own highly regarded wine and it’s only possible to try it if you’re dining at the restaurant.
The next morning it was time to leave the Cape Winelands but not before a wander in Franschhoek town and a dip in the hotel pool (which was a wake-up for the senses!).
Before the drive to Swellendam there was definitely time for lunch at one more vineyard – Allée Bleue. The restaurant was very quiet but the picnic area was a different story. Picnic’s need to be pre-booked but the food in the restaurant was just as good and we enjoyed a wine tasting over lunch.
For further ideas on how to spend your holiday in South Africa or are planning to visit with a toddler you can read about our complete itinerary here.