Diversification is definitely the name of the game as far as wine farms are concerned and it’s not unusual to find other activities on site to encourage you to spend a little more time on the farm. But some wineries have taken this to another level so if you’ve got a full day to spare and don’t want to drive around, here are three all-singing, all-dancing wine farms where you can spend the entire day and not get bored.
1. Babylonstoren - on the Klaapmuts Road outside Stellenbosch en route to Franschhoek.
What to do – what isn’t there to do? It’s very kid-friendly with lots of amiable animals as well as plenty of space to run around. There are beautifully-designed, very visual cellar tours which include a full winetasting, a tour of the olive oil-pressing facilities, a few shops selling wildly-desirable and delicious things and – of course – the gardens, the main reason for visiting here. Lovingly-planted and restored by the owners, the gardens are divided into 15 different clusters featuring lots of edible plants, historic plants, beautiful plants as well as animals, mazes and waterways. Tours run every day and are highly-recommended.
What to eat – there are two restaurants on the farm, the Babel Restaurant and the Green House as well as the excellent deli shop. Babel serves amazing salads, a killer salsa verde and generous meaty accompaniments such as baby chicken or lamb rump. The Green House is lighter and simpler food including make-your-own sandwiches and scones.
What to drink – the Viognier 2014 (R108) is an excellent, modern example which uses modest amounts of oak balanced by restrained stone fruit all in perfect harmony. Pick of the reds is the top-flight Nebukadnesar 2012 (R270), a fiveway Bordeaux blend with plenty of class and elegance as well as lots of time to come.
2. Spice Route – on the Suid Agter Paarl Road
What to do – (takes deep breath) there is a brewery, a distillery, a coffee roastery, an ice-creamery, an artisan cured meat producer, a glass-blowing studio, a chocolatier, a biltong emporium, a décor shop, a deli and an art studio. The only thing missing is the accommodation you will need during your two-day visit because there is far too much to do in one day. And if you finish all this lot, head next door to Fairview and start on the cheese and the goats.
What to eat – again, you’ll need a couple of days. New and exciting is Bertus Basson who is now operating the main restaurant, but you can also get decent pizzas and tapas at La Grapperia as well as light snacks whilst you watch the rugby at the brewery. There are plenty of nibbling opportunities around the farm such as Richard Bosman’s cured meats and the chocolate tasting from DV Artisan Chocolates and the café does great cake and coffee too.
What to drink – the Spice Route Chenin 2014 (R110), made from old Swartland vines, is crisp, crunchy, fresh and delicious whilst the Chakalaka 2011 (R130) is a spicy, Shiraz-based Mediterranean blend which goes great with the cured meats, fragrant biltong and tasty pizzas available on the farm.
3. Spier Wines – on the R310 going into Stellenbosch
What to do – another place that merits an overnight stay! They have suggested itineraries depending on whether you have kids or not but I recommend the Segways, the Eagle Encounters as well as a wander through the newly-planted gardens which supply food for the restaurants. There are shops, delis, art galleries, more shops and all surrounded by lovely, lush lawns ideal for lazing away the day.
What to eat – you can eat at Eight restaurant for good wholesome farm fare or make up your own picnic at the Deli, but I wouldn’t bother going to all the fuss of choosing your own – let them do it for you because it’s delicious. Comes with blankets, wine, water, ice buckets, biodegradable cutlery and crockery – what’s not to like?
What to drink – winemaker Jacques Erasmus is the current Diners Club Winemaker of the Year so try his award-winning Creative Block 2 2014 (R85) which is a delicious bargain white Bordeaux blend. Or go for the 21 Gables Pinotage 2012 (R179), a juicy, chewy yet elegant wine with plenty of chops to go with your chops.
Also read: wine tasting with a view - best spots to go in the Cape and top 10 family-friendly wine farms
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- Cathy Marston