After a busy few days in Cape Town, there is nothing like the countryside to help you unwind. We stayed in Val du Charron wine estate, just over an hour from Cape Town and it was just perfect.
Stellenbosch and Franschoek are most widely known towns for wine tasting so when my travel agent, Gohop, suggested I try Val Du Charron in Wellington, I was a little skeptical. I was assured that I would love it, a brave claim, especially with kids……
We arrived at lunch time and immediately spotted visitors enjoying wine and food on the terrace. I didn’t even want to check-in, the room could wait. We decided to join them and went straight for lunch. The food and service was excellent and the views, spectacular! Our server recommended we start with their fresh Pino Grigio before moving on to the Cabernet Sauvignon. Who was I to argue with the expert? The wine and food was delicious, so much so that we stayed there for hours. The staff must have thought it strange that we didn’t want to see our rooms, but we were loving our new home.
When we did finally get to our rooms, it was just for a quick change and back out again to explore the estate. The kids had a dip in the pool while we strolled around the vineyard. Originally a fruit farm from 1699, this remarkable estate changed hands in 2006 and has been welcoming tourists ever since. The owners are conscious to keep the property in touch with its historic integrity and produce and bottle the wine on site. Complete with a choice of two restaurants and a spa, you really don’t have to leave the estate. We decided to stay put for the day and ate in the main restaurant that night too.
The following day we explored the neighbouring towns. I was really amazed at how big Stellenbosch had become. Now a university town complete with Mr Price and fast food outlets, it was a far cry from the pretty country town I had visited years before. Franschoek, on the other hand is very pretty. Although a tad ‘Disneyesque’, it is the picture postcard town, with art galleries, curio shops and cafés. Not sure where you’d pick up a pint of milk and a sliced pan though 🙂 We enjoyed a stroll around the town, purchased some art (as you do!) from the market and tried some chocolate and wine in one of the local shops! Franschoek has a wine tram, which looked like a great idea. You can hop on, hop off all day, tasting wine in different wine estates and not have to worry about driving. With two kids in tow, unfortunately it wasn’t for us…
We visited Takora Wine Estate, midway between Stellenbosh and Franschoek. It is located on a hill top with panoramic views over the vineyard and also happens to have a fantastic restaurant! If you want fine dining, make sure you pre book and get there before 2pm. The views are spectacular. They also have a delicatessen which serves delicious salads with a kids menu. We had a light lunch while the kids played outside in the playground. It clearly wasn’t as good as the restaurant, but tasty and ideal for families.
After a leisurely scenic drive, we arrived back at Val du Charron. We did the obligatory tour of the ‘cellar’, which actually wasn’t all that impressive, but it had to be done! What I liked best was wandering around the estate and admiring the stunning views. The kids loved the resident Great Danes and the overall feeling of being on a farm. We decided to stay there that night too and tried the on site pizza restaurant. Complete with a splash park, it is ideal for kids, particularly when the weather is hot.
Val du Charron is such a find. It is so important to have good food (and wine🍷) on site so you don’t have to think about driving. The grounds, vineyards and panoramic views must be some of the best in the Winelands of South Africa, I honestly think you would be hard pushed to find anywhere better. With two restaurants, 4-star Guesthouse and 5-star Coach House accommodation, all within an hours drive of Cape Town – what more could you want?
Planning a visit to South Africa? Check out all my posts from our adventures here.