A Local’s Guide to the Cape Winelands

December 1st, 2021

There’s no time like summer in the Cape Winelands when the vineyards are abuzz with activity and the latest vintages are enjoyed on endless December afternoons… We’ve put together some of the best-loved local activities to enjoy with the family this year.

Explore the outdoors

Hike the Franschhoek Mountains for a bird’s eye view of the Winelands

The Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve boasts spectacular views of the Franschhoek Valley, Wemmershoek Dam and parts of Theewaterskloof Dam with over 30km of safe, well-maintained hiking trails. These vary from short walks to day hikes which can be tackled at your own leisure. The 1 575 metre-high elevation offers a vantage point with endless views, as well as a close-up experience of the iconic Cape fynbos found in this UNESCO-declared Cape Winelands Biosphere Reserve.

Where: Find the entrance to Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve on the Franschhoek Pass

Galileo Open Air Cinema

The Galileo Open Air Cinema hosts classic movie screenings under the stars in the Cape’s most breathtaking spaces – from the beautiful Kirstenbosch botanical gardens to a rooftop terrace at the V&A Waterfront. As the sun sets, viewers can enjoy a star-studded line-up of romantic comedies, cult classics, musicals and family favourites while tucked in under a cosy blanket. You can book an entire picnic spread with movie snacks, drinks and a cosy blanket and chair when you reserve your tickets.

Where: Various venues across Cape Town and the Winelands. Book online.

Horse Riding at Boschendal

Experience exquisite views of the Franschhoek Valley as you explore Boschendal wine farm on horseback. The rides are open to novices and experienced riders, and there are pony rides for the little ones. For eager mountain bikers, the estate boasts five marked trails consisting of single track, mountainside jeep track and farm roads that offer endless adventures for intermediate and advanced riders, as well as families and casual riders.

Where: Main Road, Pniel, Groot Drakenstein

For the family

Babylonstoren Farm Hotel

Recently voted the best hotel in Southern Africa in the Condé Nast Traveler Magazine 2021 Readers’ Choice Awards, our Babylonstoren Farm Hotel is the perfect retreat from where to explore the Winelands.

Set on the foothills of the Simonberg Mountains, the restored Cape Dutch farm is renowned for its sprawling gardens, vineyards and orchards. It’s a paradise for children and grown-ups alike and all farm activities are included in our hotel stays. Attend a garden workshop or book a wine tour for an immersive experience of our newly revamped cellar. Swim in the farm dam, enjoy an hour in the spa or walk up Babylonstoren hill and await the sunset with a glass of wine in hand before slipping in-between sheets of crisp linen for a good night’s rest.

Where: On the Klapmuts/Simondium Rd, Simondium

Visit Pigcasso at the Oink Gallery

The Winelands is home to the world’s one and only painting pig, aptly named Pigcasso. At the Farm Sanctuary SA in Franschhoek, visitors can see this painting phenomenon and also view his available artworks at the onsite OINK Gallery. The 204 kg animal was rescued from a slaughterhouse and now lives his best, artistic life painting high-ticket abstract pieces. Accommodation is also available in the barn and must be booked in advance to avoid disappointment.

Where: Elandskloof Road, Franschhoek

Check out the runner ducks at Vergenoegd Löw The Wine Estate

Set on the slopes of Helderberg Mountain, this lovely winery is known for its group of more than 1000 Indian runner ducks that roam the estate. The farmers and winemakers opted to go the natural route to protect the vineyards from pests and this working flock forages in the vineyards, happily dining on snails and helping to keep the terroir pest free, naturally. Visit them for a decadent picnic on the sprawling lawns as you wait for the ducks to knock off after their day shift.

Where: 1 Vergenoegd Road, Faure, Stellenbosch

Art lover’s ally

Dylan Lewis Sculpture Garden

Located on the seam of the Cape wildlands and the Cape Winelands, the Dylan Lewis Sculpture Garden borders the manicured suburbs of Stellenbosch and a rugged mountain wilderness where leopards still roam.

In this garden, the artist explored the Jungian notion of ‘the wilderness within’. More than 60 sculptures constituting a comprehensive record of his artistic development thus far have been carefully sited along 4km of paths. The influence of Japanese gardens and the Japanese wabi-sabi aesthetic is evident in the minimalist, sculptural design of the garden, its ellipses and curves, its sense of spirituality and acceptance of transience and imperfection.

Where: Dylan Lewis Studio and Sculpture Garden, Mulberry Farm, Paradyskloof Road, Stellenbosch

Photo by Dylan Lewis Sculpture Garden

Immerse yourself in a Babylonstoren workshop

There is no better way to immerse yourself into a new destination than through a local-led workshop on one of the most esteemed properties in the Cape Winelands. Babylonstoren’s workshops happen on an almost daily basis and include something for everyone. Discover the secret life of bees in spring or learn how to make summer salads with farm-grown ingredients and edible flowers. Book your favourite experience here.

Where: On the Klapmuts/Simondium Rd, Simondium

Spend an afternoon at the Rupert Museum

If you’re after a tranquil moment in the bustling town of Stellenbosch, the Rupert Museum is just the spot. The museum showcases the unique private art collection started in the 1940s by the late Anton and Huberte Rupert. In addition, there are weekly events like kids’ treasure hunts or yoga classes that visitors can join for free. Entrance, too, is complementary.

Where: Stellentia Road, Stellenbosch Central

Photo by Rupert Museum

For the foodies

Morale Coffee in fields of gold 

This sweet spot came about one fateful afternoon when two baristas got stranded on the roadside between Wellington and Hermon. A kind farmer helped them, and an alliance was formed to open a small coffee stand in his working wheat field, just off the R44. Morale Coffee has since become a go-to for farmers in the region, and travellers in search of a cup ‘o Joe on the go. They also offer fresh boerewors rolls and picnics. It’s the perfect pit stop for bikers, cyclists and Winelands explorers.

Where: On the R44 between Hermon & Wellington

Freedom Weekend Market with the kids and dogs in tow

Situated in the heart of the beautiful Winelands between Paarl and Franschhoek on the R301, the Freedom Weekend Market is open on Saturdays and Sundays and gives a platform to local entrepreneurs and foodies to showcase their products. There are large couches and tables with umbrellas to lounge at, and a well-stock food court serving top Winelands tipples. Join the Sunday fun run that starts and ends at the market, and bring along the kids and dogs for a fun day out. Tractor rides, target shooting and real-life ponies offer endless entertainment for the little ones.

Where: Freedom Village, 301, Wemmershoek Road, Paarl

La Paris Bistro for farm-to-table feasting

The perfect spot to get a taste of the region in a sophisticated setting. This farm-to-table bistro with a charming outdoor play area and sprawling shaded lawn is a perfect spot for families with children. Meals are wholesome and made from locally and responsibly sourced ingredients.

True to its Cape Winelands location, the bar boasts a curated selection of more than 70 locally sourced wines, craft beer on tap and an extensive range of cocktails.

Where: Wemmershoek Rd, R301, Franschhoek

Tuck into a De Vrije Burger

Craving some fast food? Celebrated chef Bertus Basson’s De Vrije Burger is the Winelands’ version of a big mac, but better. The hole-in-the-wall haunt is reminiscent of a New York-style burger joint, but with a uniquely South African character. The limited menu is littered with nostalgic references, and only the best ingredients are used. When placing your order, you can choose whether the patty should be rare or more well done. Optional add-ons include smoked chilli sauce, bacon or biltong and the hand-cut potato tjips come three different ways – BBQ-spice dusted, cheesy or peri-peri.

Where: 13 Drostdy Rd, Stellenbosch Central, Stellenbosch

Photo by De Vrije Burger

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