The very first trip that Matt and I took was to Franschhoek, one of the small wine-centered towns in the South African Winelands. Growing up around wine all of my life (thanks, Sonoma!) I was thrilled that we lived close to the Winelands and started to plan a trip immediately. We decided to stay in Franschhoek instead of the more popular Stellenbosch, which was a great decision. To put it in terms of California wine country, Stellenbosch = Napa (expensive, touristy, snooty) and Franschhoek = Sonoma (reasonably priced, less crowded, down to earth). But I'm not biased in the least.
When we arrived in town we realized that we had scheduled our trip during the Franschhoek Uncorked Festival: For R120 ($12USD!!), we could receive between 3-6 pours at 19 of the local wineries over the course of 2 days. So if you figure that each of the generous pours were about 1/3 a glass, that means at the very least we paid $12 for about 20 glasses of wine. I kid you not. Obviously drinking 10 glasses of wine two days in a row is a horrible, horrible idea, but I'm one of those people who can't pass up a good deal. Since each glass was less than $1.75, I didn't feel bad about pouring out pours after tasting a few sips (you know, how you actually go wine tasting). Although we didn't hit all 19 wineries, we did manage to visit 14 of them. 14 out of 19 isn't bad. I really liked 13 of those 14 but fell in love with the following 10:
Top 10 Wineries To Visit in Franschhoek, South Africa
When I found out that Boekenhoutskloof was the creator of one of my favorite South African labels, Porcupine Ridge, I knew that I had to visit. The winery is beautiful and comfortable, and the wine is delicious. The only negative aspect (which might be considered a positive, actually) is that Boekenhoutskloof is a bit off the beatn Franschhoek path.
Wine To Try:The Chocolate Block. This wine cuts out the middle man and does the wine and chocolate pairing for you. How can you say no to a chocolate wine?
My favorite thing about Lynx is drinking a selection of their incredible wines (both white and black) while sitting on the back patio staring at the mountains. Yes, life does get that good.
Wine To Try:Xanach. Probably the best Bordeaux style wine (mixes Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cab Sauv, and Cab Franc) that you can buy for R100 (roughly $10USD).
8. Allée Bleue
One of the prettiest wine farms in Franschhoek! This was our first winery during the Uncorked festival, kidding things off with a bang.
Wine To Try: Chenin Blanc. I love any white wine that blends vanilla and citrus. Best served with seafood.
7. Four Paws
Who doesn't love a dog friendly winery? The winery is tucked off the main road under the shade of gorgeous trees. I loved sipping wine outside while the (many) dogs ran around playing. The wine farm also features artwork from local artists.
Wine To Try:Calico. I normally don't like un-wooded whites, I fell in love with this blend from Four Paws.
I loved Franschhoek Cellars so much that I ended up going at least twice. We did a wine and cheese … and chocolate tasting, which was amazing. Franschhoek Cellars doesn't provide their own cheese or chocolate but they do offer an incredible selection from other local establishments.
Wine / Cheese Combo To Try:The Churchyard Cabernet Sauvignon paired with Dutch Farmhouse Gouda. I die. And I don't even like Gouda.
This wine farm offers incredible views of the Franschhoek valley. They specialize in bubbly wine but also have a nice selection of some other unique wines.
Wine To Try: All of them! I fell in love with the Chardonnay Pinot Noir (what a blend!), Unwooded Pinot Noir (looks like a rose!), and Belle Rose.
4. Dieu Donné
We ended up going out to Dieu Donné several times while out in South Africa. You can read my review of the winery here.
Wine To Try:MCC Brut Rose. Hello, pink champagne.
Rickety Bridge, one of the many destinations on the Wine Tram, has a gorgeous wine tasting room and a wide range of wines. Part of the fun of the winery was riding there in a big truck!
Wine To Try:Semillion, R65 (roughly $6.50USD)
I must have bought at least 4 bottles of wine from this winery.
Wine To Try:Viognier / Chenin Blanc.
My favorite winery in Franschhoek. Amazing grounds, stunning two floor tasting room, and my favorite wines. They have several different labels (including one that features all Italian-style wines). I would make another trip back to South Africa just to visit this winery.
Wine To Try:Protea Reserve. I bought about 3 bottles of this wine.