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Travel Log: Stellenbosch & Franschhoek (Wine Country), South Africa

I hope you are having a great week so far! Today I want to talk a bit about South Africa's wine country. We recently spent ten days in South Africa, and I was absolutely blown away by not only the beautiful landscape but also the amazing food and wine scene. I previously had no idea that there are over 300 wineries in South Africa, and it is the 9th largest producer of wine in the world. Our friends Michael & Debbie set up two days of custom wine tours for us with a private driver: one day in Stellenbosch and one day in Franschhoek. We barely scratched the surface on South African wineries, and I would love to return at some point to continue learning about this part of the world. Please read on for photos and details of our wine tours in Stellenbosch and Franschhoek.



We drove out of Capetown in the afternoon and arrived in wine country just in time for dinner. Our friends Debbie & Michael intended to arrange us to have dinner at Babel, a restaurant located at an old Dutch farm called Babylonstoren. Babel happened to be closed while we were there, but the staff was serving dinner inside of a greenhouse on the property instead.  This Greenhouse Restaurant is normally only open for breakfast and lunch, and it was such a wonderful treat to dine inside a beautiful greenhouse!


 We had a wonderful farmhouse style dinner with shared plates of roasted chicken, potatoes, root vegetables, and greens. It was a delicious start to our time in wine country! If you would like to learn more about Babylonstoren and the Greenhouse Restaurant click here.


Day one of our wine tour started at De Trafford wines, located up in the hills above Stellenbosch. De Trafford is a small winery that is known for their Cabernet blend called Elevation 393, their Blueprint Shiraz, and their straw wine.


We were able to walk through to see bottling in process by hand by the talented De Trafford team.  Take a look at these stacking skills!


Straw wines are very popular in South Africa, and De Trafford was the first winery in South Africa to produce this type of wine.  It tasted like a late harvest reisling to me, sweet and delicious.


The views as we drove through wine country were just incredible!


The second winery we visited was Hidden Valley Wines, also located in the hills in Stellenbosch with a breathtaking estate and a portfolio of award-winning wines. They are most well known for their "Hidden Gem" Cabernet blends.


The views from Hidden Valley Wines are just incredible! The first photo at the top of this post is also from this same winery.


The next stop on our agenda was lunch at Tokara. We had been recommended to visit Tokara by several different friends, and we were not disappointed! 


We sat out on the patio, ordered a bunch of dishes to share and several bottles of wine. It could not have been a more perfect afternoon--all of the dishes and wine were fantastic. If you would like to learn more about Tokara and their restaurant, click here. We loved it!


Our incredible view from the patio of Tokara.


Just one of the dishes we enjoyed at Tokara.


Our final winery of the day was Thelema Mountain Vineyard. This winery has been operating since the late 1980's and is best known for their merlot, but they have a history of making award winning wines.


Another beautiful view from Thelema's tasting room--those are the Drakenstein Mountains.


Day 2 arrived and we made breakfast and coffee to enjoy on the patio of our cottages on the Boschendal estate. These cottages were just wonderful and I absolutely recommend them for anyone staying in wine country.


Day 2 of our South Africa wine tour was focused in Franschhoek and started with bubbly at Haute Cabrière. Haute Cabrière is known for their Pierre Jourdan series of bubbles, but they also have a wonderful reserve Pinot Noir!


Our friend Debbie snapped this photo at Haute Cabrière, and it is one of my favorite photos of the trip! This bench is set up looking out at the Franschhoek Mountains and makes the most peaceful scene.


Our second stop was Le Lude, specializing in Cap Classique sparkling wines and another wonderful recommendation from the folks at De Trafford. We loved Le Lude bubbly so much that we bought a couple of cases to take with us and drink during the remainder of our trip.


A peek inside Le Lude's tasting room. It is gorgeous and French inspired and I could live here. Couldn't you? ::happy sigh::


We had wine tastings and lunch at Grand Provence Heritage Wine Estate. This winery has over 300 years of history, founded by one of the original Huguenot settlers in Franschhoek.



Grande Provence has many award-winning wines, most recently their Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc (I thought both were fantastic).  There is also a gallery and a sculpture garden featuring works from all over the world.


Just one of the dishes we enjoyed: poached lobster with quinoa, pickled zucchini, ponzu-infused cucumber and dill gel, and sweet miron gribiche.



I wanted to add a couple more photos of the Boschendal cottages because they are just so lovely! These were such a great find by our friends Debbie & Michael, I can't take any credit for it but absolutely recommend them.


After two full days of wine tours, it was time to pack up the car and head out to SAFARI! Stay tuned for my next South Africa travel log that will be all about our adventures on a wildlife reserve. Thank you for visiting my blog today, don't forget to enter the Nordstrom giveaway, and I hope you have a wonderful rest of your week!

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