Did you know?
The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Français in Franschhoek consistently ranks among the World's 50 Best Restaurants.
Tucked away in the Groot Drakenstein Mountains the Franschhoek Wine Route is a bit like Monte Carlo, a playground for the super rich in the winelands, only much greener and more scenic.
Proud of their French ancestry, its residents love nothing better than an excuse to whip out the Tricolore or trot out some French phrases, in honour of their Gallic heritage dating back to 1688, during the towns’ annual July Bastille Festival.
Selling itself unabashedly as ‘South Africa’s gourmet capital’, Franschhoek’s lifestyle attracts gastronomes and sybarites from across the globe.
The Franschhoek winelands fall within the Western Cape’s coastal wine growing region, and thereafter they are a ward of the Paarl wine district. There are 43 active wineries along the route, ranging from super-brands like Boschendal and L’Ormarins to very small, garagiste producers, My Wyn.
Well-suited to viniculture, sauvignon blanc, merlot, chardonnay and semillon cultivars make up the bulk of the plantings in Franschhoek.
The typically Mediterranean climate (wet, cool conditions, and clayey, kaolin-rich loam topped with granite shale weathered from the surrounding mountains and Berg River) create acidic, potassium-rich soils that give the wines of this region their character.
On your tasting tour of Franschhoek’s wine estates, expect Loire-style sauvignon blancs and buttery, French-oaked chardonnays, along with Bordeaux-style reds and some bold shiraz.
Méthode Cap Classique Sparkling wine production is popular, with Haute Cabrière and Graham Beck bottling some very quaffable joie de vivre. Sample their wares at the Cap Classique and Champagne Festival in December. Other tipples worth seeking out include port, schnapps, grappa, and some exceptional potstill brandies.
Superb local produce, a willingness to experiment and the desire to provide world-class gastronomic experiences, seasoned with award-winning chefs, and served with French flair, sums up the synergy that exists here between food and wine.