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.
Thursday, 21 May bears great significance on the wine calendar as on this day we raise a glass to toast one of the industry’s noble cultivars – Chardonnay. International Chardonnay Day also serves as a reminder that, in South Africa, the Franschhoek Valley is regarded as one of the leading Chardonnay producing regions. One of the reasons for this is the high daytime 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 for.
We caught up with Franschhoek Wine Valley Vigneron’s Chairperson and Holden Manz owner, Gerard Holden to get some insight.
‘Chardonnay is the most planted grape cultivar in the Franschhoek Valley, which makes up approximately 16% of the collective Valley’s vineyards. This is more than double the representation of the varietal across the board, where chardonnay plantings account for just over 7% of the total. Robertson, Paarl and Stellenbosch account for over 60% of all chardonnay plantings in South Africa, while Franschhoek represents just 3% of South Africa’s chardonnay – approximately the same as Elgin and Walker Bay combined!
Terroir (mainly soil type and temperature) as well as clonal selection heavily influence the qualities of the chardonnay berries while winemaking technique, for example use of wild yeasts, utilisation of different fermentation vessels such as stainless steel tanks, amphorae and oak barrels determine the qualities and characteristics of the finished wine.
Much of Franschhoek’s chardonnay is used to produce Méthode Cap Classique (MCC) which the Valley is renowned for. Producers such as Môreson have planted their vineyard with a number of different clones and rely on that fact to generate complexity and structure, while others such as GlenWood, Chamonix and La Bri seek to exploit the interesting terroir they occupy while using winemaking techniques to stamp their own brand on this eponymous grape.
A number of local producers without access to Franschhoek grapes source chardonnay from outside the Franschhoek Valley. An example of one of these producers is Paserene who sources its fruit in Elgin, while Platter’s Chardonnay of the Year producer Leeu Passant has a special block in Stellenbosch. In the case of Holden Manz our Franschhoek site is highly suited to our red varietals, so we focus on sourcing our chardonnay grapes from cooler climate sites – one being next to the cooling influence of False Bay and another being high on the slopes of the Simonsberg.
It is evident that Franschhoek Vignerons are crafting fine examples of Chardonnay whether from fruit grown in the region or sourced from special parcels elsewhere in the winelands. Recent accolades and competitions confirm this. There is a passion for the grape amongst the Franschhoek Vignerons, which translates into a healthy range of expressions all of which combines into a great tasting experience for our visitors to the valley,’ says Gerard.
Whether your Franschhoek Chardonnay started its journey in the valley or was sourced elsewhere you are guaranteed of only the best. Handcrafted wines made to be enjoyed at any occasion.
Cheers to celebrating Franschhoek’s Chardonnay producers as well as those around the world.
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.
After serving 30 years as the Viticulturist/Winemaker for GlenWood Vineyards, DP Burger will be handing over this responsibility to his Assistant Winemaker, Natasha Pretorius. DP will oversee the smooth running of the farm in his capacity as Cellar Master and General Manager. GlenWood Vineyards is situated in the heart of the Franschhoek Wine Valley and is home to a range of award-winning wines.
Natasha joined the team in 2018 and quickly became an integral part of the team, successfully applying her technical knowledge in the production of the farm’s premium wine range during the 2019 and 2020 vintages. She also shares the team’s vision of continuing to produce high quality wines for both the local and export markets. “Natasha has become a highly regarded part of the GlenWood team, and we look forward to seeing her input in many vintages to come,” comments DP.
Natasha grew up in Vanderbijlpark and attended Driehoek High School, where after she moved to Stellenbosch to study BSc Microbiology and Biotechnology at the University of Stellenbosch. Fascinated by all the microbiology involved in the winemaking process, she furthered her studies by obtaining her Honours (2014) and then her Masters degrees in Wine Biotechnology (2016). During this time she developed a passion for the complexity of wine and the winemaking process. After graduating she started her winemaking career as an Assistant Winemaker at Doolhof Wine Estate near Wellington (2016 – 2018) before joining the GlenWood Vineyards team.
Natasha will officially take up her new position as GlenWood Vineyards Winemaker from 1 April, 2020.
This year’s Novare SA Terroir Wine Awards saw a staggering 328 wines entered for the 2019 competition, with the results of these announced at a special awards ceremony on 1 August.
Judged by a panel of highly esteemed industry role players, , the Franschhoek Wine Valley excelled in the district winners category, scooping 16 awards handed out on the day. The Franschhoek Vignerons who excelled at this prestigious event were the following:
Top Cabernet Sauvignon
2017 Dieu Donné Cabernet Sauvignon
Top Red Blend
2016 Dieu Donné The Cross Collection Shiraz/Viognier
Top White Blend
2016 Glenwood Grand Duc Sémillon/Sauvignon Blanc
2016 Glenwood Grand Duc Syrah
Top Noble Late Harvest
2014 Glenwood Noblesse Grand Duc
2017 Glenwood Vigneron Selection Chardonnay
Top Pinot Noir
2016 Haute Cabriere Pinot Noir
2016 La Couronne Malbec
2019 La Couronne Merlot Rosé
2017 La Motte Syrah
2016 La Motte Syrah
2017 La Petite Ferme Merlot
2018 Lynx Wines Viognier
What makes this competition stand out from the rest is that not only does it honour the wines which truly reflect South Africa’s different wine growing areas, but all wines entered must be a certified Wine of Origin from a specific single vineyard, estate, ward or small district not divided into wards.
This year’s competition was chaired by Jeff Grier who was joined in the judging process by David Biggs, Narina Cloete, Sandile Mkhwanazi and Anton Swarts.
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.