A visit to Franschhoek

We were invited on the Cape Winelands District Municipality Media Educational to Franschhoek Wine Valley on the 15th of March 2019. It was a day trip filled with plenty of activities supporting the theme of Health and Wellness.

Many people visit Franschhoek for the wines in the valley but they often miss the other hidden gems in the area. On this media educational we strayed from the obvious and went to visit some other locations to try new things.

First on the agenda we got to visit the Medicinal Herb Garden created by Juda James and the municipality back in 2006. The garden is a little gem hidden in plain sight with tons of herbs to heal all health issues. Juda is extremely passionate about what he does and told us of all the ways different herbs can be used to treat daily ailments. A royal treat was getting to taste a freshly made Buchu drink which according to Juda is extremely good for overall health and can be enjoyed daily. The first time I heard of Buchu was when I tried Buchu Gin. Having Buchu infused water is even better as it brings out more of the herb’s flavor. If you’ve never been to a Medicinal Herb Garden I’d suggest taking a trip to Franschhoek where you can walk through Juda’s garden where over 36 different herbs are growing at the moment including Dagga and Wild Dagga. Passion and knowledge is what fuels Juda and he could teach you many interesting facts about the herbs you use in your foods daily.

From Juda’s Medicinal Herb Garden we left for Anthonij Rupert Wines where we enjoyed a Rooibos Tea Tasting in the farm’s historic and recently refurbished Manor House. Visitors can take a tour through the gorgeous rooms and view the valuable art pieces throughout the Manor. The tea tasting took place in one of the dining halls where one of the very first visitors to the farm carved her name into one of the windows with a diamond. Wine might be the main reason many visit Anthonij Rupert Manor but its rich history, gorgeous rose gardens and herb garden are part of what makes this location truly unique. The Tea Tasting was a royal treat especially since we got to taste three of the delicacies offered with the High Tea at the farm. The idea behind the tea tasting and High Tea’s is to provide more options especially for those who are unable to drink or wish to travel to this beautiful wine farm with children. The scenery is breathtaking and if you’re in the mood to travel to wonderland you can even opt to have your High Tea in the Rose Garden. The Media Group got to taste the Rooibos Tea’s and it was quite interesting. There were four different Rooibos Tea’s ranging from the original to Rooibos Shangri La. The Favourite among the group was the Rooibos Tangerine & Ginger which is quite refreshing. While doing a Tea Tasting on a wine farm might seem odd it is definitely interesting and worth a try. Especially if you opt for the High Tea where you get to indulge in 8 different treats made fresh for the occasion.

For many coffee is fuel to get through the day and when visiting Franschhoek Terbodore Coffee is where you need to go. This beautiful coffee roaster is located on the main road and offers more than just regular coffee and treats. While the Big Dog Café has a menu with plenty of variety they do offer unique treats. For one there is the roastery tour where you get to enjoy learning more about the drink you consume daily. We were taken on this delightful tour by Jommo and like Juda he is passionate about his craft. He started as one of the packers and worked his way up to the roasting room. Being taught about the process of roasting coffee and unlocking its flavor by Jommo is a treat in itself. It’s interesting to learn how much time and effort goes into roasting the perfect beans you get to purchase from supermarkets and convenience stores. Terbodore gets their beans from countries all over the world as we might have the perfect ground for grapes, but coffee struggles to grow here. After learning everything about how coffee is roasted and what is done to not only unlock but keep the flavor of the beans we got to do a tasting of the Terbodore Honduras coffee. The tasting took place in the Big Dog Café, the tasting consisted of an espresso, a cold brew and a filter coffee made in a pour over. What you might not know is that one of the baristas at Terbodore used to be a chocolatier so he often creates chocolates that complement the house coffees. With the Honduras coffees we got a white/milk chocolate with orange shavings which went smoothly with the coffee. Terbodore Coffee can be bought in store or online but also in their onsite store. If you’re a coffee lover or even curious about coffee it’s the perfect place to go as you can enjoy a coffee education, tasting and even bite to eat all in one place.

After plenty of learning and tastings we took a bit of a drive to visit Santé Wellness Retreat & Spa. . Santé is located in a valley surrounded by mountains which makes it feel almost secluded and increases relaxation. You haven’t had a Spa Retreat unless you’ve been to Santé Wellness Retreat & Spa. Apart from offering Spa treatments, Santé is also known for its accommodation, wellness packages and health optimizing. There’s even a conference package where the entire company or team can enjoy tranquil surroundings and good food to help spark creativity and productivity. Each and every single room at Santé has been individually decorated so no room looks the same. Their most popular Spa packages are half day and full day packages which are generally encouraged by the staff. They might be a bit pricier but what you gain from it makes it worth it. The longer you manage to stay at Santé the longer you want to stay. Their passion for holistic wellness is seen in everything from the décor and layout of the place to the spa treatments and most importantly the food. Santé believes that balancing your mind, body and spirit will achieve lifelong wellbeing. The food they serve is not just delicious but incredibly healthy. In fact many who want to go Vegan opt for the Detox Package at Santé to help them make the change. The meals are created using unrefined foods and while it might seem impossible they don’t add any sugar, dairy, gluten, preservatives, colorants or additives. And most importantly of all these beautiful meals don’t just look great, they taste amazing too. We only got to visit Santé for lunch and a quick Spa treatment but we left wanting more. This is definitely one place I’m putting on my list of must visits in the future. Next time I’ll opt for a longer stay to try different meals, treatments and desserts… I heard their chocolate cake is the best you’ll ever taste in your life. I’m also curious to try the Vinotherapy Experience which is a signature and trademarked spa experience that can only be found at Santé. If you’ve dreamt of taking a bath in wine then this unique experience is one that should be added to your bucket list too.

The day was packed with educational and interesting experiences where we learned as much as we enjoyed. We ended the day with a wine tasting and early dinner at Old Road Wine Co. This newly launched wine company is quickly becoming a favourite among locals. Reason being that the company is focused on recalling the stories of legendary characters and vines that shaped the Franschhoek community in the early years. They have a wide range of different wines you can enjoy from The Originals to the Quirky Ones and each tell their own story. Even the name refers to The Old Road where it all began.

For the Wine Tasting we got to enjoy trying the three different wines in the Single Vineyard Range. These wines are in some ways more special as they are only harvested from a single vineyard and therefore produced in smaller batches. There is the Grand Mère Semillon 2016, Anemos Chenin Blanc 2016 and 12 Mile Syrah 2015. The Grand Mère Semillon 2016 is harvested from eighty-year old vines which is why it got the name Grand Mère referring to the family matriarch. It is an elegant and refined wine in which you’ll taste notes of opulent pear, kumquat, citrus peel and exotic spice. The Anemos Chenin Blanc 2016 got its name from the ancient Greek lexicon of ‘wind’. Reason being that it is believed the Anemos reveals something of the wild and spiritual nature of its birthplace. This wine is concentrated but very fresh, perfect for a summer’s day. You can expect to taste white pear, quince and gooseberry fruit and even almond blossom. And finally there is the 12 Mile Syrah 2015 which is a characterful red wine with flavors of ripe berries and natural spice. This wine got its name from the post man who is said to have travelled 12-miles each day no matter what the weather to make sure his packages got delivered. His persistence, loyalty and character is reflected in the 12 Mile Syrah. This was just one of the tastings, there are plenty others to enjoy at Old Road Wine Co. from their different ranges.

When you visit you’ll also get to taste the exquisite food on their menu and even pair it with one of their many different white or red wines. Their Pancetta Wrapped Ribeye is definitely a favourite along with the Sesame Seared Tuna. Each meal is cooked to absolute perfection from the meat to the sides. Make sure you keep space for dessert as the Macha Green Tea and Stone Fruit Parfait is an absolute must. One trip to Old Road Wine Co. will definitely leave you coming back for more. Fabulous wines, great food and spectacular people are all part of what makes Old Road Wine Co. an indulgence.

On this Cape Winelands District Municipality Media Educational we learned about the many different things you can do in Franschhoek. People often look for the most obvious activities and places to visit, but in reality there is so much more to do here. In fact as we travelled from place to place throughout the day there were many other fun activities and places that appeared in sight. Next time you visit Fanschhoek make sure you stay for a night or two and truly explore. You might find some experiences that will get you hooked on this beautiful part of the Western Cape.

Written by Rochelle – LOKAL Contributor

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