As soon as I had a child, my favourite activity changed from going out for dinner, to going out for lunch, preferably a lunch somewhere beautiful where it was easy to look after my child.
I look for somewhere where there is something for him to do, some food he’s going to enjoy and that won’t break the family budget now that I have to pay school fees.
And – most importantly (after all, it is MY treat) – somewhere with really good food and lots of lovely wine. Here is my top ten faves for winelands family lunching.
Stables at Vergelegen (Somerset-West)
Great for yummy mummies and daddies, this new addition to historic Vergelegen is a surprising hit with families.
The new jungle gym is great for kids and there are shady benches alongside for Moms and Dads to keep an eye on the kids.
Can’t wait to see how many go paddling in the water feature this summer and when the new maze gets up and running, it’s going to be even more fun. Good, wholesome, hearty food.
Can’t beat a braai! Especially when someone else does it all for you and there is so much to entertain the kids whilst they do it - hordes of animals, donkey rides, chance to braai your own stokbrood, lots of grass – you can easily lose them for a long time.
No mark-up on the wines, very reasonable cost per head for a three course braai lunch.
Joostenberg Deli (Stellenbosch)
This must be one of the first farms to realise ‘where there’s kids, there’s cash’ and they have made a huge success of it.
Book very early to get a table on the stoep at weekends so you can keep an eye on the kids as they rampage around the huge lawns dotted with jungle gyms. Pony rides are also available.
Food is French and excellent value, wine mark-ups are very reasonable and try and keep your husband away from the kids homemade sausages and chips – I can’t!
It’s always easy to spot wine farm families who’ve got kids of their own and this is the perfect example.
Great picnic options for little people with a nice mix of what they want to eat and what you want them to eat.
Fab jungle gyms, a water feature which doubles up as a paddling pool, lots of games you can borrow and plenty of space.
Wines have no mark-up and their new entry level wines, First Lady, mean you don’t have to spend a fortune.
Long Table at Haskell Vineyards (Stellenbosch/Helderberg)
GM Rianie Strydom’s kids are all growing up fast, but she clearly remembers how important it is to let Mom & Dad have some downtime so there are lots of winding secret paths and surprise look-outs leading off from the small jungle gym.
The food is particularly yum, all kids’ options are homemade and there are low mark-ups on the wine.
In addition, this place does a great breakfast which is a good alternative to lunch – although it often ends up one and the same!
Christina’s at Van Loveren (Robertson)
We holiday out this way every Christmas and New Year and have previously struggled to find somewhere nice to eat, so finding this new place was a great bonus this year.
Lots of pathways twisting through the gardens, trees to climb etc and the food is very child-friendly – what kid doesn’t love homemade pizza??
Tiny mark-ups on already reasonable wines, kind and tolerant staff – can’t wait to return.
Pierneef a la Motte (Franschhoek)
This is probably the ‘poshest’ of the restaurants I’m recommending but no less family-friendly for all that.
They provide towels for paddlers in the stream and easels and paper for budding Picassos as well as great homemade food and lots of shady lawns.
For grown-ups, bonuses are no mark-ups on the wine and some of the finest cooking in SA.
Allée Bleue (Franschhoek)
This is the cutest idea – make a kiddies picnic, wrap it up in a checked cloth and sling it on the end of a stick.
Then off they go adventuring to the jungle gyms, bouncy castle or duckpond (enclosed) – wherever takes their fancy - whilst you enjoy your food in peace and quiet.
Good range of well-priced wines and BEER as well which is always a winner with many a husband!
Harvest at Laborie (Paarl)
A new restaurant but one that I can see is going to become massively popular.
Once again, parents have been involved in its set-up with a great kids menu, massive lawn space in full view of the dining tables, innovative jungle gym and a boule pit for older kids.
Matthew Gordon’s food is delicious and hearty and there are low mark-ups on all the Laborie wines and other KWV lines including excellent value wines by the glass.
Gabrielskloof (Bot Rivier)
I am now actively booking holiday venues so that I can call in at this place on the way back home!
A wide stoep surrounding a huge courtyard with big water-features (and cages just underneath the water so kids can’t get into trouble), this restaurant is doing really awesome grown-up food and plenty of delicious options for kids too.
A big basket of toys is available if you didn’t bring any and the wines are reasonable and fab.