Franschhoek offers visitors a wide range of accommodation – from luxury boutique hotels to quaint bed and breakfasts and self-catering establishments. Choose to stay in one of the many establishments located within easy walking distance of the main road, or opt for a more secluded establishment – located on farms in and around the valley – offering you the ultimate winelands experience. Whatever your choice, you will be guaranteed of a blissful night’s rest.
Franschhoek may be South Africa’s Culinary Capital, but you are bound to want to explore further than our award-winning restaurants and wineries. If the options are simply too many for you to decide, contact one of our local tour operators who have distilled what’s available into itineraries for all tastes. For a wine tasting with a difference take a ride on the Franschhoek Wine Tram. For the more energetic there are numerous walking trails in the surrounding mountains – particularly in the Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve. You can also hire a bicycle and explore on your own, or go wine tasting on horseback. Venture out to Val de Vie for some polo or opt for an exciting game of golf at the breathtaking and award-winning Pearl Valley golf course.
As with fine food and outstanding wines, so too fine art needs to be savoured in order to be appreciated. Regarded as SA’s premier food and wine destination, Franschhoek has added art destination to its résumé.
Sample the Valley’s finest artisanal and fresh produce on the Franschhoek Artisan Route. The Franschhoek Artisan Route affords visitors the opportunity to treat their taste buds to some of the finest olives, cheeses, charcuterie, artisanal breads, chocolates or craft beer Franschhoek has to offer.
Franschhoek also boasts many business services that you’d not expect to find in a village such as ours. Graphic designers, photographers, printers, business consultants, estate agents, architects, attorneys and many more are all to be found in our dynamic village.
Franschhoek boasts some of South Africa’s ‘Top 100’ restaurants and has become known as the country’s Culinary Capital, providing visitors with a memorable dining experience. Leading chefs create everything from cutting-edge cuisine to stylish light meals, using only the freshest local produce paired with superb local wines. Franschhoek is also a member of The Délice Network of Good Food Cities of the World. Délice is an international network of likeminded cities engaged in promoting the benefits of culinary excellence and good food. Franschhoek was granted membership to this prestigious network in October 2014, and is the only member in the Southern Hemisphere.
A short wander down the main road in Franschhoek uncovers world-class shops and boutiques for an intimate and relaxed shopping experience. There is truly something for everyone. Whether you are looking for wine, jewellery, designer clothing, artworks, a special gift, collectable books or chocolate you’ll find the best of these and much more along our main street. Many of our wine estates also have superb deli’s serving the best in terms of freshly baked breads, olive and olive oils, charcuterie and much more.
Franschhoek has been the ideal wedding setting for as long as we care to remember. Anyone who has ever been married here will tell you that the beautiful and serene Franschhoek Valley is the perfect place to start off your life long journey together. The romantic scenery adds to a wedding’s ambiance and ensures that your never to be forgotten day is just that more special. With numerous venues to choose from you’re bound to find something that is everything you ever dreamt of and more.
Franschhoek is the epitome of relaxation and is home to a host of premium quality and serene wellness centres, spa’s, health shops and beauty parlours. Restore a healthy balance of the mind, body and spirit whilst being rejuvenated in our breathtaking valley.
As you make your way into Franschhoek you will notice that most of the farms still bear their original French names, some complete with a spectacular Cape Dutch homestead, towering oaks and rolling vineyards. You will find an array of cellars, ranging from quaint boutique wineries that cater for those in search of something unique, to the large cellars that offer visitors organised tours and tastings. The fertile Franschhoek Wine Valley is home to some of South Africa’s noble cultivars and classic styles. These range from superb whites such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Semillon and Chenin Blanc, to the full-bodied reds of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Pinot Noir and Merlot. The area also produces some of the country’s extraordinary Méthode Cap Classiques, which can all be enjoyed during a trip along the Franschhoek MCC Route.
As we near the end of our extended lockdown we await news of what our new normal may be. While we wait, Franschhoek Wine Valley locals continue to do their bit for those less fortunate as well as keep the region top of mind for those who will one day once more visit our beautiful valley.
The Patel family – Kiara, Jasmine and Amber – are definitely making the most of their lockdown time, honing their baking skills. Their iced heart shape biscuits (below) were once again a welcome treat for those who need it most.
Following on from the success of Everard Read’s first digital exhibition, entitled Staring Straight To TheFuture, which went on to raise almost R1.4 million for the Solidarity Fund in week, art enthusiasts will be thrilled to hear that the gallery as put together another digital collection of its celebrated artists. The second digital exhibition, entitled Us, was inspired by one of the pieces by Brett Murray, and poses the question within the context of a country in lockdown. As in the case of the first exhibition, once again 50% of the proceeds will be donated to the fund.Everard Read is represented by galleries in London, Cape Town, Franschhoek and Johannesburg.
Last week renowned sports presenter and wine enthusiast, Dan Nicholl engaged with some of our Vignerons by means of a virtual wine tasting on his Dan Really Likes Wine Facebook page. His guests included Gerard Holden (Holden Manz), Rob Armstrong (Haut Espoir), Chris and Andrea Mullineux (Mullineux Wines) as well as Andrew Harris from Bellingham Wines and Old Road Wine Co. This was a great opportunity for them to not only talk about their range of amazing wines but remind wine consumers why Franschhoek is regarded as one of SA’s leading wine producing regions.
In case you missed their chats view a recording of the live video below as a reminder why we want you to ‘dream now and purchase Franschhoek wines later.
Here is a selection of some of the images we’ve received from our amazing residents:
We are of the opinion that post lockdown there may be many more trips to the gym than in the past as this challenging time seems to have inspired a nation of chefs and bakers, which is amazing. So, while we still have the attention of those keen to try their hand at a new recipe (or two) we thought we’d share this tasty ice cream recipe by Chef Eric Bulpitt of La Motte Wine Estate. It’s his gran’s recipe (below) which she used to serve with Boerenmeisjes (brandied apricots). Relatively easy and simple in presentation, but the flavours are intricate and delicious and very nostalgic.
Don’t forget to stock up on fresh produce from Babylonstoren and delicious local cheeses from Dalewood Fromage during lockdown. What better time to give your family only the finest healthy fresh produce to keep their immune systems strong. These images below are guaranteed to tickle your taste buds.
The Val de Vie Foundation (part of Val de Vie Estate) has set up a feeding scheme in collaboration with Social Investment Managers, Valcare, and a host of credible organisations, to help provide and pack thousands of vetted food parcels to the most vulnerable communities within the region. This initiative was launched in response to the foundation requesting support from Val de Vie Estate residents, and ultimately resulted in generous monetary donations as well as residents offering their time as volunteers to pack the food parcels (see below). Read more about this amazing initiative here.
The feeding scheme, initiated by Franschhoek Disaster Management, relies on the continued support of donors to keep hunger at bay for those less fortunate in the community. Recently the food unit received a generous donation of freshly picked satsumas from Babylonstoren (below), which is a great source of Vitamin C, much needed to boost the immune system.
The carefully coordinated feeding scheme provides food parcels during the week, with hot meals scheduled for weekends. Each nutritious food parcel, which costs R250 is enough to feed one household for two weeks. To learn more about this amazing feeding scheme follow Disaster Management Franschhoek on Facebook for all of the details.
As we face challenging times and what feels like an endless dark tunnel, every now and then a good news story peaks out from behind the dark clouds and leaves us with hope. With news emerging recently that wine producers are allowed to export there is further cause for celebration in that some of our Vignerons have excelled on the competition front recently.
Earlier this week the 2020 Cabernet Franc Challenge results were announced which saw My Wyn being awarded the vintage winner for its Cabernet Franc 2012. A total of 52 entries were received for this year’s competition, and the judging panel was made up of Christine Rudman, Lizette Tolken, Greg Mutambe, Fiona McDonald and Malu Lambert.
Jacoline Haasbroek, My Wyn
This week seemed to be a hive of industry competition news with the Top 10 winners announced in the inaugural Winemag.co.za Cap Classique Report, which is sponsored by multinational financial services company Prescient. There were 50 entries received from 27 producers and these were tasted blind (labels out of sight) by a three-person panel, scoring done according to the 100-point quality scale. Babylonstoren secured two spots on the prestigious list with two vintages of its Sprankel in the Top 10, these being the 2014 and 2015 releases.
Another Winemag.co.za report published was the Top 10 winners for Sweet Wine & Fortified, also sponsored by Prescient, which saw GlenWood Vineyards securing a spot on the list for their Noblesse 2017 Grand Duc Noble Late Harvest. The scoring was also done according to the 100-point quality scale. A sweet victory indeed.
Noblesse 2017 Grand Duc Noble Late Harvest
The judging panel for both Winemag.co.za reports were chaired by editor, Christian Eedes, who was joined by industry heavyweights Roland Peens and James Pietersen.
These results once again showcase Franschhoek’s diverse wine offering.
During the lockdown in South Africa, you can still get the freshest farm produce in the Franschhoek Valley. Don’t miss out on stocking up on healthy fresh produce for your family when you need it most.
You can stock up on freshly baked bread, cold-pressed juice, free-range eggs, a selection of meats and cheeses, full cream yoghurt, nuts, granola, rusks, tea, honey and seasonal fruits and veg from the garden.
Please note that no fine living products or alcohol will be sold. You are welcome to visit them daily between 9am and 4pm. There will be no entrance charged at the gate and only visitors arriving on their own will be allowed in.
And while you are there, remember to go over to say ‘hi’ to their donkeys!
POP UP FARM SHOP NOW OPEN
Monday – Saturday (closed Sundays) | 12:00 – 16:00 Open for collections & shopping.
Coming Friday 15 May: Extended hours 9:00 – 16:00
More New Products available:
– Daily Fresh Bread Selection
– Werf Butchery Meat
– Frozen Meals
**Please note, to adhere to social distancing protocols only 2 guests per vehicle will be allowed access to farm**
HARVEST YOUR OWN FRESH VEGGIES
A selection of fresh veggies available for harvest in our Werf Garden every week. See our website for this weeks vegetable selection available for harvest: https://bit.ly/2LhAFiY
TASTE BOSCHENDAL PRE-ORDERED BOXES | From R325
To make your shopping experience even more convenient, we’re putting together 6 daily “Taste Boschendal” boxes for pre-order each week. Please see box menu available for download: https://bit.ly/2LhAFiY
Our Taste Boschendal boxes are created to cater for either two or four people and available in these two sizes. You’re welcome to add more items from the available goods in our pop-up Farm Shop when you come to collect.
Boxes can be pre-ordered with our reservations team Mon-Sat from 08:00-17:00.
Phone: 021 870 4274
You’re welcome to book your farm box any day of the week, next day collection is available for all orders placed before 12:00.
**Don’t forget to tag us while enjoying your taste of Boschendal at home: #TASTEBOSCHENDAL**
Dalewood’s range of speciality cheese includes Brie, Camembert and Blue in different styles, shapes and sizes. Also try their delicious Huguenot®, Boland™ and Lanquedoc™; uniquely South African cheeses.
The Dalewood Cheesery Shop is openfrom Monday to Friday between 9am and 3pm and Saturday from 9am to 2pm.
Not only is it the height of awards season for the wine industry, but it is also full steam ahead for restaurants. With the 2019 Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards around the corner chefs in and around the country are on tender hooks as they await news as to who has secured the top spot.
While we wait with bated breath there have also been a number of other awards – both local and international – bestowed on deserving Franschhoek eateries.
Franschhoek was yet again a popular destination amongst both local and international travellers with the announcement of the 2019 TripAdvisor Traveller’s Choice Awards. Regarded as the world’s largest travel site, which enables travellers to unleash the potential of every trip, tourists from across the globe voted Le Bon Vivant as the 8th best restaurant in Africa, and the 4th best in South Africa.
Le Bon Vivant, Franschhoek
Adding to this already stellar performance was the announcement of South Africa’s 2020 Plated Restaurants and Awarded Chefs as published in the highly anticipated 2020 JHP Gourmet Guide. Most restaurants around the world aspire to a one, two or three-star rating, whereas in South Africa, restaurants aim for one, two or three plates. Three plates being the ultimate accolade. The guide celebrates the uniqueness of South African cuisine, from classic and conservative to daring and different. At the launch, 20 one-plated, 11 two-plated and five three-plated restaurants were awarded.
Foliage and La Petite Colombe were each awarded a two plate status, with Le Coin Français, Chefs Warehouse at Maison and The Werf at Boschendal each receiving a one plate accolade. At the same event the prestigious Haute Performance Awards were awarded to those creating footprints in an industry that is people-centric, which saw Franschhoek’s Reuben Riffel receive the Haute Passion award. The 2020 guide will be available in leading bookstores, Woolworths and participating restaurants from November 2019.
Chef Reuben Riffel
Ending on a high note was the news earlier this month that Le Coin Français chef Callan Austin received the S.Pellegrino Award for Social Responsibility as voted for by Food Made Good, the internationally recognized voice on sustainability in food. This accolade secured a position for him as a finalist in the Africa and Middle East region of the S. Pellegrino Young Chef Regional Semi-Final. He together with the other three finalists will travel to Milan for the Grand Finale in May 2020.
These latest accolades reaffirm Franschhoek as South Africa’s Culinary Capital, and even more reason to include a visit to one of these fine dining establishments when next visiting the valley.
The Sommeliers Selection Wine Competition, which was conceptualized in 2015, has revolutionized local wine competitions. It is a competition with a difference, as it is judged solely by top South African Sommeliers, and the winning wines for 2019 were recently announced with seven Franschhoek vignerons shining in their relevant categories.
The vignerons who secured spots on the prestigious ‘ultimate’ wine list were the following:
Furthermore, Plaisir de Merle was named as one of the Stand Out Wines for the Grand Plaisir 2014 in its relevant category, which reaffirms Franschhoek as a leading wine region.
The panel of sommeliers taste the entries blind in their relevant categories, only knowing vintage and price point, before discussing the wines and deciding if they fulfill the criteria of being placed on the Sommeliers Selection “ultimate” wine list.”
This year, the Sommeliers Selection Competition Chairman and current board member of The South African Sommeliers Association, Joakim Hansi Blackadder chaired the judging panel. Joakim was joined on the panel by:
This year more than 400 wines from the country’s top wine estates were entered into the contest.
In 1662, on the 17th of April, the first apple was picked at the Cape. It was the Witte Wijnappel.
In 1692, Babylonstoren Farm was granted to burgher Pieter van der Byl by the then Governor of the Cape, Simon van der Stel. Prior to that, the Drakenstein Valley had been inhabited by the nomadic Khoisan communities for tens of centuries. And so it was Pieter van der Byl who planted the first vineyards on the farm and who altered the water courses to provide irrigation. In 2007, the present owners, Koos Bekker and Karen Roos, bought Babylonstoren and created a garden inspired by the historic Company’s Garden in Cape Town. The latter supplied sailing ships of the Dutch East India Company with fresh vegetables and fruit during the days when the Cape was a halfway station on the spice route between Europe and Asia.
The 3,5-hectare (8-acre) Babylonstoren garden excels in diversity with vegetable areas, stone and pome fruits, nuts, citrus, berries, bees, herbs, ducks and chickens, a prickly pear maze, and more. Gravity feeds water from a stream by rills into the garden, flowing through ponds planted with edible lotus, nymphaea lilies and waterblommetjies. This garden, which is at the heart of the farm, invites guests from all over the world to discover the rich history of the Cape and to enjoy its produce by simply picking and eating a ripe fruit as they walk through.
On 17 April 2019, after successfully searching for a Witte Wijnappel tree in Holland and importing it back to South Africa, Tru-Cape Fruit Marketing and Hortgro re-planted the Witte Wijnappel in the Company’s Garden near the place it originally stood. Similarly, in August 2019, Tru-Cape and Hortgro will gift a Witte Wijnappel tree to Babylonstoren. Now the oldest recorded apple cultivar will also form part of the more than 300 varieties of plants in the garden that are edible or has medicinal value.
Head gardener Liesl van der Walt commented: “The Witte Wijnappel is a treasured gift linking our garden with our inspiration, the original Company’s Garden in Cape Town. It is also a valuable addition to our growing collection of historical trees that include Newton’s “Flower of Kent” apple tree, Shakespeare’s mulberry, Napoleon’s willow and many old Cape varieties such the Saffron pear, and Ohenimuri and White Winter Pearmain apples.”
“Although Tru-Cape, together with Hortgro, invested in securing the Witte Wijnappel and bringing it back to South Africa, we did so with the whole South African agricultural industry in mind. Knowing that, along with its position in the Company’s Garden, the Witte Wijnappel will now also be in Babylonstoren’s heritage orchard where we know it will be lovingly tended and appreciated by visitors, makes us very happy,” said Tru-Cape Fruit Marketing Managing Director Roelf Pienaar.
Hortgro’s Executive Director Anton Rabe added: “Today, the impact on and contribution of the apple industry to the modern rural economies of the Western Cape and the rest of the country is vast. We contribute to rural development and transformation by creating in excess of 27 000 direct (on-farm) jobs and a further 109 000 dependents are impacted by the success of the industry. We help ensure food security, rural stability, infrastructure and foreign earnings. The industry has a global standing and is considered a leading player with regard to quality an taste of our products, compliance with discerning market requirements and food safety, ethical trade and environmentally sustainable production practices.”
There is no excuse not to open a bottle of your favourite Chardonnay today. So let us all raise our glasses to International Chardonnay day!
Chardonnay’s popularity makes it one of the most planted
white varieties in the world – about 160 000 ha. It is also planted in more
wine grape areas than any other grape variety.
Together with Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon,
Chardonnay is one of the three most planted varieties in Franschhoek, and
together with Semillon, it is regarded as the future of wine production in the
The Franschhoek Wine Valley is renowned for producing
excellent Chardonnay, and one of the reasons for this (and possibly the single
biggest differentiator) is the high diurnal temperature variation in the
vineyards. The difference between the region’s day and night temperatures
during the growing season fluctuate between 13 – 15˚C, and this large
fluctuation allows for natural acid preservation in the berries at night (malic
acid) and optimal sugar accumulation during the day without prolonged metabolic
activity. This gives the area a wider spectrum and diversity of styles to play
with when it comes to Chardonnay production, and in doing so creating optimal
growing conditions for this popular grape variety.
Although understanding all the variables can be
a challenge, it is difficult to deny that Franschhoek Chardonnay has that
special X-factor. The recognisable lime, citrus and cashew nut on the nose, a creamy
texture with minerality on the palate and a lingering follow through. And as a
tribute to the French Huguenot heritage of our area, Franschhoek Chardonnay
often offers that oatmeal character some of the best French examples are known
So now that you have opened that special bottle of Franschhoek Chardonnay, what exactly is the best way to serve and drink this wine? Cellarmaster Edmund Terblanche from La Motte offers this great advice:
“Chardonnay, like all wines, should be served in the
correct glass and correct temperature. The classic Chardonnay glass has a big
rounded bowl and a wide rim. This will decant the wine in the correct places on
your palate. The temperature should be around 10 degrees celcius for wooded
wines and maybe a little cooler for unwooded wines.” Cellarmaster Edmund Terblanche
We have also asked Edmund to tell us a little more about the
Chardonnay that they produce at La Motte:
“La Motte’s Chardonnay, like many other in Franschhoek is slightly wooded, with a creamy texture and juicy lemon citrus, nuts and out meal flavors. We pick it in different stages, ferment partly in different oak barrels and age it for 12 months to get a well balanced and integrated, complex wine. We aim towards a light to medium bodied wine to maintain finesse and freshness.” Cellarmaster Edmund Terblanche.
And if we look a little bit further than Franschhoek to our French counterparts, it seems like the Domaine Coche-Dury from Meursault, France has impressed GlenWood winemaker, DP Burger, the most! When we asked him what makes this specific bottle of wine so mindblowing and one of his favourites, he explained the following:
“I encountered this wine during my travels in Europe and it was
truly a memorable experience when I tasted it for the first time! Beautifully
integrated with an excellent strong yet subtle minerality. The 2008 vintage
stands out in my mind and even this wine still had many years to reach full
potential.” DP Burger (GlenWood).
So back to Franschhoek, we all know that this area is pretty
serious about their food! As the gourmet capital of South Africa it is no doubt
that you will find some of the best food and wine pairings around. So what is
the best food to enjoy with a Chardonnay?
Edmund Terblanche, Cellarmaster at La Motte said the
“Chardonnay is very versatile with food but preferably
those that contain cream, butter, cheese or something lightly smoked. Pastries
and creamy fatty cheeses does well and any vegetarian dish which is not too
Try your hand at this delicious recipe created by La Motte for chicken with sorrel and lemon. Not only is it perfect for winter, but it is more than 300 years old! It comes from a cookbook titled De Verstandige Kock (ca. 1668) and has basically stayed unchanged.
Billet Magara, sommelier and tasting room manager at Paserene in Franschhoek, recommends that Chardonnay works particularly well with seafood dishes with a creamy sauce. In addition, creamy dishes with an Asian twist are also a great option. Billet’s favourite dish to enjoy with a glass of Chardonnay is butter chicken, but for the perfect pairing he recommends the Paserene Chardonnay with poached crayfish in tangy mayonnaise.
Though it is nearly impossible to single out only a few Chardonnays from our Franschhoek producers because they are all so good, we have below highlighted some of our favourites that we know you will enjoy too!
The Moreson Mercator Chardonnay 2017
In 2018, Môreson’s Clayton Reabow was announced as the 2018 Diners Club Winemaker of the Year in the Chardonnay category for his Môreson Mercator Chardonnay 2017. Clayton is no stranger to this competition, winning the Diners Club Young Winemaker of the Year Award in 2009. Clayton regards the Mercator as their benchmark white wine forming the pinnacle of Chardonnay production on Môreson Wines. With over 20 hectares of small vineyard parcels planted exclusively to Chardonnay, the Mercator has been grown and produced from two mature vineyards for the last 11 years. Only the cuvee juice is used in the production of this wine ensuring absolute pure fruit with delicate oak integration after being matured in French oak for 11 months. Like all great Chardonnay’s, the purpose is to produce a wine with focus, energy, precision and restraint.
Glenwood Chardonnay Grand Duc
Regarded as their flagship wine, GlenWood’s Grand Duc Chardonnay has raked in an impressive number of awards. Amongst other it has received the Decanter Trophy for the best South African Chardonnay, the Old Mutual Wine Trophy Gold and Second Best Chardonnay in SA, Veritas Gold and Double Gold, Mundis Vini International Gold, Winemakers Choice Best White and Top 3 Chardonnays, numerous Veritas Double Gold awards and was listed on the 2017 Sommeliers Selection Wine List. Winemaker, DP Burger, who has been at the helm of this boutique wine estate for 25 years, describes the wine as showing outstanding oak and fruit integration. On the palate the wine displays a full, rich, creamy mouth feel of almonds and vanilla, resulting in a lingering aftertaste of smoky peach and citrus. The GlenWood currently produces three styles of Chardonnay, Grand Duc, Vignerons Selection and an Unoaked Chardonnay. The grapes sourced for their wines are all vinified on GlenWood, thereby reflecting the unique terroir of the Franschhoek Wine Valley. The 2016 Grand Duc Chardonnay is available at R3300 per case of 6.
La Bri Chardonnay 2017
Irene de Fleuriot, General Manager and Winemaker of La Bri and her team, produce a range of the most sublime wines, one of which is the La Bri Chardonnay 2017. The wine outdid itself in the Prescient Chardonnay 2018 Report in October by being scored 94 out of a hundred. The grapes for the La Bri Chardonnay 2017 come from a single 26-year Chardonnay block on the Estate.
Haut Espoir 2018 Chardonnay
In celebration of International Chardonnay Day on the 23rd Haut Espoir’s 2018 Chardonnay will be released and available to order. This 2018 Chardonnay was produced from a single vineyard, sourced from neighbouring farms in the Franschhoek valley. Typical flavours of citrus and lime are accompanied by a rich textured mouthfeel, due to the barrel ageing. The fresh acidity lingers on the aftertaste and makes this a well-balanced and rounded wine.
Colmant Brut Chardonnay NV
This Colmant Blanc de Blanc blend, created from a special selection of Chardonnay, is the epitome of Chardonnay expression – fine, elegant and fresh. Colmant came out tops at the 2018 Amorim Cap Classique Challenge, with their Brut Chardonnay NV being named the Best Blanc de Blancs at this prestigious industry event. The Amorim Cap Classique Challenge is the only competition that focuses exclusively on Cap Classique.
Babylonstoren Chardonnay 2018
The 2018 Babylonstoren Chardonnay is an old world style Chardonnay with a fresh, fine-grained nose of quince, lime and vanilla. It was recently included in the National Wine Challenge’s Top 100 SA Wines and received a Double Platinum award.
Holden Manz Chardonnay 2018
The 2018 Chardonnay grapes are specially sourced and hand selected by Holden Manz’s Cellar Master from a ridge overlooking the ocean in Somerset West and a high-altitude slope on the side of the Simonsberg Mountain. These two locations are both relatively cool but for different physical influences. They combine magnificently to produce a rounded well-balanced wine. Grapes were harvested in two separate pickings from Somerset West adding to the complexity. Six month’s lees contact adds a creaminess and complexity, presenting an appealing full mouth and length.
Boschendal Appellation Series Elgin Chardonnay 2016
On the international front Boschendal was awarded Gold as well as the Trophy for Best South African Chardonnay at the 2018 International Wine Challenge for its Appellation Series Elgin Chardonnay 2016.
Leeu Passant Stellenbosch Chardonnay 2016
During the 2019 Platter’s Awards, Mullineux Wines not only received the award for Straw Wine of the Year for its Straw Wine 2017, but also walked away with the title of Chardonnay of the Year for its Leeu Passant Stellenbosch Chardonnay 2016.
With thanks to Edmund Terblanche (La Motte Wine Estate), DP Burger (GlenWood) and Billet Magara (Paserene Wines) for their inputs provided in this article.
In the same 18th-century building, which originally housed the blacksmith, stables and waenhuis (waggon house), Babylonstoren now has the Lekker Room – a tantalizing space of flavours where their own almonds and pecan nuts, grown on the farm, are roasted. From roasted nuts to steaming coffee and everything in between can be tasted here.
The Farm Shop is open from Monday to Sunday between 9h00 and 17h00.
When the walk to a factory takes you through grape-laden vineyards and the scent of lavender fills the air, you begin to suspect that this will be no ordinary factory. And it isn’t. Of course it isn’t. For this is Babylonstoren and the factory is a fragrance-filled, beautiful space.
This is a developmental space where many of Babylonstoren’s ideas are conceived and new products are created. The primary objective of establishing the Factory has been to allow guests to get a glimpse into the workings of certain projects on the farm. It is one of the latest additions to Babylonstoren – here you will now find the Scented Room, the Juicery and the Balsamic Vinegar Battery.
The Scented Room is an aromatic apothecary. It is a magical space filled with vintage pharmacy drawers and an impressive collection of antique glass pharmaceutical bottles that were found on the farm while it was being excavated, created and built. And while this Scented Room offers the same wonderful olfactory experience of scented soaps, candles and floral oils as it did in its equally beautiful previous home, this dedicated space offers guests a new interactive experience – a chance to truly engage with the garden’s fragrances. Visitors can blend their own bath salts, body scrubs and face masks, under the caring eyes and knowledgeable insights of Babylonstoren-trained assistants who will help them in choosing the correct formula. Bath soaks are displayed in laboratory beakers, filled with magnesium salt to combat fatigue, mustard to aid with the detoxification process, rooibos tea for its antioxidant properties and ginger for its anti-inflammatory characteristics. These are enhanced by the addition of rose petals, torn lemon verbena and rosemary leaves, or lime zest. An essential oil can be added at this stage; depending on what is available, guests may choose to add rose geranium, lavender, lavandin or rosemary essential oils. The making of these beauty products by hand – in a beautiful room surrounded by natural fragrances – is both meditative and indulgent. And once made, they are beautifully packaged for visitors to take home.
If you are lucky and you happen to chance upon the Factory during a period when the floral distillery is in operation, you will be surrounded by pure, sweet smells of lavender or rosemary. You’ll witness the process whereby the floral buds are distilled, capturing the steam and condensing it into a liquid which forms the essential oil. There are no harsh machinery noises, no ugly corners, only the scent of essential oils, and the sound of steam being released. The remains of the flowers are not thrown away but returned to the garden instead to serve as compost for the next floral harvest. There is beauty in everything.
Soon Babylonstoren will also be making their own soaps, according to the time-honoured traditions of the specialist artisans in France and visitors can look forward to soap-making and other workshops.
On the second floor, above the Scented Room, is where you’ll find the Juicery. Here the farm’s delicious fruit and vegetable juices are created, tasted and bottled in small batches. The signature red (think prickly pear or strawberry!), yellow (carrot or plum perhaps) and original garden green (apple, fennel and kale) juices change according to the season and what is available on the farm and surrounding area. The fresh fruit and vegetable juices are cold pressed and then cold preserved by means of high pressure processing (HPP).
No heat is required, which means that the fresh taste and vitamins are preserved and the product has a shelf life in the fridge of three weeks or more. This technology reduces the microbial count and enables Babylonstoren to process tree-ripened fruit and freshly harvested vegetables into flavour-bursting, nutrient-packed juice right here on the farm.
Once the sealed, filled (recycled plastic) bottles are placed into the state-of-the-art high-pressure machine, a metal chamber is filled with water and the bottles of juice are pressurised to 6000 bar. This is a huge amount of pressure considering that the average car tyre has a pressure of only 2 bar. Imagine 12 elephants standing on a single strawberry. That is the kind of pressure that this high pressure machine, one of only three in South Africa, is placing on a single bottle.
Guests arriving at the viewing window looking down into the juice factory can see HPP in action, as well as the water bottling plant. Unique signage on the glass window explains what happens in the space below. Both the sparkling and still water is sourced from Babylonstoren’s own aquifer and bottled in completely recycled and reclaimed plastic.
Across the way from the Juicery is the Balsamic Vinegar Battery. Having focused on preserving the freshness of juices, visitors can now appreciate the ageing process and what it takes to make balsamic vinegar the traditional way. Only 5% of the world’s balsamic vinegar can be labelled DOP (Denominazione d’Origine Protetta or protected designation of origin), which means that it has been aged from between 12 and 25 years, is marked by annual decants and is bottled in small, round 100 ml bottles. Traditionally, DOP is made by small family producers and used sparingly and only for very special occasions and family celebrations. Three years ago, Babylonstoren sent a winemaker to study the method and traditions of making DOP balsamic vinegar. They also purchased well-aged DOP to bring back to Babylonstoren. These are now being aged in wooden vats in the cellar where it will be decanted annually and filled with shiraz must. This is the Babylonstoren way – a perfect marriage of Italian and South African farming traditions. Using the best of all worlds, but still being proudly South African.
What the Factory does is offer visitors the chance to immerse themselves in Babylonstoren’s creative excellence and to witness the constant drive for perfection and beauty that underscores everything that happens on the farm.