Less than 50 miles from Cape Town lies the small town of Franschhoek. Nestled between mountains in a lush and fertile valley, Franschhoek is considered by many to be the heart of South Africa's wine country, and has become a world-class destination for travelers with gourmet tastes.
Franschhoek, which is also one of the oldest towns in South Africa, is the perfect jumping-off point for a luxurious trip through the country's sun-dappled wine region. Let's explore the wonders of South African wine country:
A Rich History
The Franschhoek Valley is sheltered by a mountain range once known as Oliphants Hoek, Dutch for "Elephants Corner." According to SA Mountain Passes, herds of elephants would bravely traverse a precipitous path that wound around the peaks every time the season would change.
The valley was first inhabited by the Bushmen and then the Khoikhoi. In 1688, French Huguenot refugees arrived in the valley, constructed farms and cultivated the land. Many of the settlers also began making wine with knowledge of viticulture techniques brought over from France. Some of these 17th-century vineyards still exist today.
Winemaking in the West Cape Province has since taken off. South Africa was the seventh-biggest wine producer in the world in 2017, according to the International Organisation of Vine and Wine.
A Gourmet Destination
Each year the West Cape wine region attracts travelers eager to experience its awe-inspiring natural beauty, farm-to-table meals, elegant bed-and-breakfasts, and, of course, its wine. The region is most famous for its red pinotage, which boasts bold plum and blackberry flavors.
Travelers to South Africa looking for a country escape that doesn't sacrifice on style and elegance will find all that they're looking for in buzzed-about Franschhoek. It is considered by many to be the food and wine capital of the country.
Follow up an afternoon spent touring a private estate and vineyard, learning about winemaking techniques, with an evening of fine dining in Franschhoek's many gourmet restaurants, from the refined Orangerie at Le Lude, which drips with tasteful chandeliers, to the stunning Roca Restaurant, nestled on a leafy hillside. Then wind down the evening with a nightcap at one of the town's many elegant hotels, such as Le Franschhoek Hotel & Spa, which offers guests lodgings of pure luxury surrounded by gorgeous mountain views. From Franschhoek, travelers can venture deeper into South Africa's wine country and experience the scenic vistas and lush vineyards of the West Cape.
Discover the treasures of South African wine country and its prized jewel, Franschhoek, on the VBT Cycling South Africa: Cape Town & The Garden Route tour.
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