Franschhoek Wine Valley

Tag Archive: Mont Rochelle

  1. A guide to hiking in Franschhoek

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    South Africa moved from lockdown alert Level 4 to Level 3 on 1 June 2020. The great news is that at this level hiking is allowed again. It is the perfect opportunity for locals and visitors living in surrounding areas to take a break and explore the beautiful Franschhoek mountains. Enjoy wide open spaces, fresh air and an opportunity to reconnect with nature. 

    Where in Franschhoek can you go to stretch your legs?

    The Berg River Dam
    Perfect for: Hiking, trail running and mountain biking

    The Berg River Dam is Franschhoek’s hidden ‘outdoor’ gem. Not many people know that there are numerous trails to explore and these off the beaten trails lead to some of the most spectacular views over the valley.

    It’s the perfect playground for mountain bikers, trail runners and hikers to explore. For those living in the Western Cape and who can visit regularly, get your annual permit (valid for one year) at only R300 per person now. A day permit cost R50 per person. Get your permit online before your visit. Alternatively you can make use of the Zapper and Snapscan options at the entrance to the Berg River Dam trails. Permits can also be purchased at the Franschhoek Wine Valley Tourism Office (62 Huguenot Road) and you will find the Berg River Dam Trail Network map for sale here for R20.

    The area is currently open to explore. For more information contact the FWV office at 021 87 2861 or email Find more guidelines and details on hiking or mountain biking in the Berg River Dam here.

    Please note that dogs are allowed but that they should be on a lead at all times.

    The Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve
    Perfect for: Hiking and trail running

    Situated in the Franschhoek Mountains, the Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve offers spectacular views of the Franschhoek Valley as well as wonderfully diverse plant life. Choose walks or hikes depending on your fitness level – they range from hour walks to day hikes. 

    Get your day permit online via Webtickets at R50 person (children under 16 enter for free when accompanied by a paying adult). Alternatively you can obtain your annual permit valid for a year at R300 per person. A map of the reserve is available at R20 per pamphlet. Permits and maps can also be purchased at the Franschhoek Wine Valley Tourism Office (62 Huguenot Road).

    For more information visit their website here.

    Please note that dogs and drones are NOT permitted on the reserve.

    Aloe Hiking Trail at Topiary Wines
    Perfect for : Hiking and trail running

    Set on the lovely Topiary wine farm, the new Franschhoek Fan Aloe Trail is a brand new trail which runs along the 4 koppies (rocky outcrops) behind the Chardonnay vine block. We have used the existing baboon trails to get to the koppies and then do a bit of bundu-bashing through the stunning Fynbos vegetation. The elusive and endemic Franschhoek Fan Aloe plant as well as the Franschhoek Blushing Bride Protea feature prominently on the trail and are not found in many other places with such easy access.

    Although the hike is not at great height, the koppies are fabulous to visit and the views from the top of the Simonsberg Moutain one the one side and the Berg River Dam in the far distance on the other, are awesome.

    Once back on ground level, pop in to the tasting room for a complimentary wine tasting. A well deserved reward after a great hike.

    PLEASE NOTE: Please wear good walking shoes / hiking boots and Bug-repellent is highly recommended.

    For more details you can contact them on 27 (0)21 867 0258 or email


    What are the guidelines?

    Please remember that hiking, trail running and mountain biking must be done in compliance with existing guidelines –  between 06:00 and 18:00 every day and not in organised groups.

    Also kindly note that all activities are undertaken at the visitors own risk.

    We look forward to welcoming you back to our beautiful valley for some much-needed time back in nature. 

  2. Twenty-four Adventurous Hours in Franschhoek

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    An article by Alfred Thorpe

    Nothing slows down and as we enter 2020 life just gets busier. A weekend away is a luxury and finding a suitable time in busy schedules can be difficult. My wife and I decided that one night away is better than nothing.  Twenty-fours hours might not sound like a lot but you can squeeze in lots of adventure, food and wine when you plan ahead. A day in Franschhoek is never enough, so we decided to head out there.

    Franschhoek village

    If you head to Franschhoek, try and access it via one of the passes. The Franschhoek pass might be a bit of a drive  but views from Helshoogte pass is just as rewarding, as you drop down into the valley with the sun rising over the mountains. The valley welcomed us with cooler, windy weather as we arrived on the Saturday morning. La Motte was our first stop and needs no introduction as winery but what you may not know is that there is a beautiful 5km hiking route that you can do.

    La Motte Wine Estate

    As the gates opened at 9am we grabbed our maps and headed up the mountain. This is not an easy stroll so take water and closed shoes with you. Some sections of the trail are technical and you would not enjoy it in a pair of flip flops. After 1.5km of walking you will be surrounded by a wide variety of indigenous fynbos.

    La Motte Hiking Trail

    The route follows the contour for about 2km as the Franschhoek valley reveals itself from this unique view, as sunlight rolls down the hills and chases shadows into the Elephant’s Corner*. 

    This hike will take you two to three hours to complete but don’t rush back as soon as you are down in the vineyards. If you know where you are on the map, you will be able to locate the buchu plantation. Stop and smell the leaves of this medicinal plant before you head back to the restaurant for a light lunch and a chilled glass of La Motte wine.

    La Motte Wine Estate

    The Franschhoek Wine Tram needs no introduction but you might not be familiar with their guided walking tours. The main road is not long but I think we are all guilty of looking for a parking spot and heading to the closest shop or restaurant, without paying attention to the detail. On foot you will be able to explore the finer detail of the architecture and learn more about the rich history of Elephant’s Corner when doing it with a knowledgeable and qualified guide.

    Not only did our guide (Sikanyiso Tshaya) share his knowledge about every unique building we passed. He also treated us to a chocolate tasting at Huguenot Fine Chocolates and we saw how truffles were made.

    Huguenot Fine Chocolates

    This experience is not just for the sweet tooth, as their dark chocolates are really good. And while you are there, you have to try the latest trend, called ruby chocolate. 

    After an early start and being active all day, we headed to our hotel for the evening. We were welcomed by horses in a picture perfect setting, with white picket fences and lush green fields. The Mont Rochelle Hotel surpassed every expectation I had of it. Our spacious suite with a private pool overlooking the Franschhoek valley was phenomenal. There were a significant amount of small details that made us feel special. We were tempted to lock ourselves in our suite, drink champagne and drink the views over the valley. But we only had 24 hours and so much more to explore.

    Mont Rochelle

    Each lounge in the hotel is uniquely decorated, with a different feel to it. I could see how you could spend hours on end at the hotel, just reading a book and enjoying a glass of wine. But those who know me probably know that sitting still is not a strength of mine. I do however sit still for a while when food is getting served. The Miko restaurant overlooks the valley and you could just stare out of the window for hours, as the sun was setting, with clouds rolling in over the mountains.

    Service was swift and we tried slowing them down, as we wanted to savour every taste. We enjoyed a bottle of Mont Rochelle wine with our meal and continued drinking their wine the next day, as we just could not miss out on this tasting experience.

    For me personally the highlight of our stay was the staff at Mont Rochelle. I believe that people, not things, is what sets one hotel apart from the rest. It was not just the friendly and helpful manner that they engaged with us but an authentic and honest way of connecting and caring. 

    Running with a buddy on Sunday morning meant an early start. Tagging a peak at the Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve was voted out, as the mountain peaks were completely overcast and extra windy. Instead we stopped at Hey Joe Brewing Company and headed out with my two golden running buddies and a friend.

    The Matoppie peak next to the Berg river dam is an accessible and fun playground for trail runners and mountain bikers. There is a great variety of jeep track and single track and you can choose to stick to the lower contours along the dam or get your heartrate up, crossing contours to the top. Be sure to take water with you, as there’s not a lot of flowing water on this “koppie”.

    After a post run breakfast and an ample amount of coffee back at the restaurant, we went to Hey Joe Brewing Company for a tour of this interesting new brewery. The main feature is a copper kettle that was built in 1961 in Belguim. The whole building is a beautiful blend between old and new. In contrast with their old and shiny copper kettle, the rest of their brewing operations get managed with state of the art computers with touch screens. An old cement mixer, that was used during the building process, was converted to the fireplace. Stained glass windows add to that old feeling in a new building. The whole process was really well thought through. We spent the day inside, drinking lager and eating bitterballen but the lawns outside is perfect for families. This venue is going to be the place to be this year.

    Hey Joe Brewing Co.

    We ran out of time quicker than expected. There is just so much to do and twenty four hours in Franschhoek will fly by when you visit. I will be back for more adventures soon, as there are still a few peaks to tag in the area. I might even get back on my mountain bike, as there is as much to explore on bike. Cheers to cold beers and more adventures in 2020.

  3. Mont Rochelle appoints Arek Witaszek as Executive Head Chef

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    Virgin Limited Edition’s South African Hotel & Mountain Vineyard Mont Rochelle, is thrilled to announce the appointment of Arek Witaszek as its new Executive Head Chef.

    Arek joins the team at Mont Rochelle after holding the position of Executive Head Chef at the award-winning five-star Relais and Chateaux property – Asara Wine Estate & Hotel in Stellenbosch. Arek hopes to bring his passion for combining South African dishes with a twist of European classic cuisine to the kitchen at Mont Rochelle.

    Arek Witaszek

    James Basson, Estate Manager of Mont Rochelle, said: “I’m delighted to welcome Arek to the Mont Rochelle and Virgin Limited Edition family. He has already settled in very well and I have no doubt our guests are in for a real treat with his culinary delights.” 

    Born and raised in the southern part of Wielkopolska province in a small picturesque village called Rydzyna in Poland, Arek’s passion for food started at a young age. Growing up he grew his own vegetables and spent much of his time learning to cook from his grandmother.  After holding several positions and completing his chef’s training, he left Poland for the UK where he stayed for four years before making the move to South Africa permanently in 2009.

    Commenting on his appointment, Arek Witaszek, Executive Head Chef, said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to join Mont Rochelle and its wonderful team. I’m truly passionate about creating a selection of menus that showcase the diverse flavours of South Africa while complementing the incredible views that are still taking my breath away on a daily basis.” 

    Miko Restaurant is Mont Rochelle’s flagship restaurant with impeccable 180-degree views over the Franschhoek valley and a stunning terrace surrounded by glass doors, giving guests the feeling of an alfresco dining experience all year round. Miko’s cuisine is best described as a taster to South African favourites with a twist. Each dish tells a story, meaning guests can experience a little slice of South African memories.

    The Country Kitchen is Mont Rochelle’s informal restaurant adjacent to the wine cellar, an ideal spot for light lunch. Miko Restaurant and Country Kitchen are open to hotel guests and casual lunch diners at Country Kitchen seven days a week. For further information or bookings, please call +27 (0) 21 876 2770 or email

  4. Isak Buys triumphs at 2018 Prestige Agri-Awards

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    Following on from the announcement of the finalists for this year’s 5th annual Prestige Agri-Awards, there was excitement in the air when the winners of 2018 Western Cape Prestige Agri Worker were announced. The results were announced at a gala event on 3 November at Nederburg Wine Estate in Paarl, which saw Isak Buys from Mont Rochelle walking away with the title of Tractor Driver of the Year.

    Isak is a long-standing member of the Mont Rochelle team, having worked at the farm for 25 years. According to his seniors he is a highly skilled tractor driver, and is continuously coming up with new ideas to ensure his vehicle and equipment are utilised as efficiently and effectively as possible. He enjoys training and teaching his less-experienced colleagues and is brilliant at what he does. Although he has many years of experience in this field, he is always willing to learn new tricks of the trade and is open to any training that is offered to him.

    Isak is definitely our ‘Jack of all trades’ having the expertise within a broad range of farming techniques such as spraying, garden irrigation, building, welding and basic mechanics. He’s also completed Vinpro training vineyard establishment and pruning techniques. He’s recently qualified as a Level 1 first-aider and is the only member of the team who’s been trained in veld fire-fighting.

    The Agri-Awards – an initiative previously known as the Farmworker of the Year competition – honours excellence in the province’s agricultural sector.  In doing so the competition is able to acknowledge farmworkers for their hard work, who make a significant contribution to our country’s economy. The competition is co-sponsored by the Western Cape Department of Agriculture and the Shoprite Group, with the latter being involved with the initiative for the past seven years.

  5. A ‘Vine’ time to visit Mont Rochelle

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    Mont Rochelle in Franschhoek, South Africa, is delighted to announce the launch of an exciting replanting project at the vineyard.

    Mont Rochelle

    This is the first time the vineyard, which covers over 100 acres, has been replanted since 1994. The project will see a completely new approach to planting and wine-maker, Dustin Osborne, has used GIS technology to establish which soils are best suited to certain grape varietals. The first new vines were planted in July 2018 and consist of Cabernet Sauvignon varieties which will be harvested in 2022.

    Guests staying at Mont Rochelle have the opportunity to meet Dustin and enjoy activities including daily wine tastings, a wine cellar visit and picnicking in the grounds.

    Mont Rochelle Cellar

    Treatments in the on-site spa have been specially developed to make use of the restorative properties of grapes from the estate, including the Signature Grape Stem Cell Facial which awakens skin for a youthful glow.

    Spa Treatment Room

    There’s no better time to visit Mont Rochelle as guests booking a stay of three nights or longer before 30th April 2019 will receive their final night for free. Rates start from ZAR6,960 per room, per night.

    For Bookings please call 0800 056 343 (toll free) or +37 (0) 11 325 4405 alternatively email

  6. Celebrating Moms in May

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    Make Mom feel extra special during the month of May by treating her to an unforgettable Franschhoek experience. Although Sunday, 13 May is officially Mother’s Day Franschhoek is open to Moms throughout this celebratory month with an array of delightful treats.

    Make the most of Mom’s experience and tailor make the perfect itinerary to spoil her. When entering the Franschhoek Wine Valley you can’t help but immediately feel relaxed which sets the scene for the rest of your experience. This is also an indication of what Mom needs – pampering, relaxation and decadent treats. Babylonstoren and Leeu Estate Spa transport you to a world of tranquillity with their range of world-class spa treatments. During the month of May Babylonstoren will pamper you from Head to Toe with this Mother’s Day inspired treatment. Enjoy 90 minutes of pure relaxation which includes a body wrap and luxuriating foot treatment. For that something special treat Mom to their Hammam treatment.

    With magical views of the Valley Leeu Estate Spa is the ultimate in five-star treatment. From the minute you enter their premises to when you leave you’re made to feel extra special. Complement your experience with a leisurely lunch or High Tea in the comfort of the hotel which is situated adjacent to the spa. The added extra is that Franschhoek is home to a wide selection of spa facilities, allowing you to find the perfect spa treatment for Mom.

    Franschhoek is regarded as South Africa’s Culinary Capital and you’re guaranteed of a five-star experience when dining at one of the many establishments in and around the Valley. Sample delicious Indian cuisine at Marigold; a special Mother’s Day  inspired lunch at Grande Provence; High Tea at Anthonij Rupert Wyne or La Motte; or simply treat Mom to heavenly chocolate delights at Huguenot Fine Chocolates or De Villiers Chocolate Café. The choices are endless but are assured to make Mom’s day.

    The hop-on hop-off Franschhoek Wine Tram will keep everyone enthralled as you discover the true essence of the region. Vineyards, scenery, warm hospitality, delicious cuisine and superb wines. If Mom is a thrill seeker then Scoottours will appeal to her outdoor spirit.

    For something slightly different join Babylonstoren gardners for a fascinating workshop about herbal teas and other refreshing drinks made from herbs and season flowers grown in their magnificent garden. Or attend one of their insightful workshops on how to use natural pesticides. Both these once-off workshops take place at Babylonstoren during the month of May.

    Allow Mom to indulge in a bit of retail therapy as the Main Road in Franschhoek uncovers a plethora of fantastic shops. These range from speciality food and home shops, to splendid art galleries. And the best part is that they are all within walking distance. The perfect excuse to walk off an indulgent lunch, or work up an appetite for an early dinner.

    With all of these amazing experiences why not turn a day out into an overnight or weekend experience? Choose from a selection of quaint bed and breakfasts to five-star boutique hotels to make Mom’s experience extra special. For the wow factor why not rent a private villa at La Cotte, Mont Rochelle or La Clé des Montagnes for the whole family?

    This is just a sampler of what you can experience in one of the country’s favourite destinations. For more information on what to see and do in Franschhoek visit

  7. Virgin Limited Edition announces that it has signed a contract to purchase Mont Rochelle Hotel & Vineyard in Franschhoek, South Africa

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    mont-rochelle-hotel14th April 2014 – Virgin Limited Edition, Sir Richard Branson’s luxury collection of award-winning retreats is excited to announce that it has reached a preliminary agreement to purchase a new property – Mont Rochelle Hotel and Mountain Vineyard in South Africa, which would become the latest addition to the already eclectic portfolio.

    Sir Richard Branson commented on the news: “I’m thrilled to be able to announce that we are in the process of purchasing Mont Rochelle and what I’m sure will be a ‘must visit’ winelands experience in South Africa and a fantastic addition to the Virgin Limited Edition portfolio.”

    Mont Rochelle has a fabulous history dating as far back as 1688. In 2001 it was purchased by Miko Rwayitare, the South African visionary entrepreneur.

    Albert Gatare, family member of the late Miko Rwayitare, said: “We are proud to confirm the imminent sale of Mont Rochelle hotel and Mountain Vineyard. It is with warmth that Sir Richard Branson is welcomed as the new owner of this gem in the crown of Franschhoek. With both his and Virgin Limited Edition’s ambitious plans for the future of Mont Rochelle, the family of the late Miko Rwayitare is certain that Miko’s vision of creating a small slice of heaven on earth will be realised.”

    Whist already a stunning property, following final purchase proceedings it’s proposed to close the hotel to undertake some refurbishment with a view that Mont Rochelle will re-open in August 2014.

    In an area internationally renowned for its winelands and stunning scenery, Mont Rochelle boasts a unique hilltop setting and private vineyard encompassing 40 hectares. A picturesque 22 bedroom hotel set against a mountain backdrop, in the heart of Franschhoek and just 45 minutes from downtown Cape Town in South Africa; it will attract food and wine lovers visiting the world-famous wider Cape Town region and offer the perfect extension to a stay at Ulusaba Private Game Reserve.