A great way of experiencing the vineyards of Franschhoek is by taking the wine tram. It’s most definitely a day well worth investing in. On an invitation from good friends, Rene and Jason Petersen, my husband,Franklyn and I purchased tickets online for the “yellow line”.
There are four to choose from being red, green, blue and of course as previously mentioned, the yellow lines. These do not differ in price, only in destination of vineyards and times. It is a hop on hop off system, where you can choose to stay at any of the vineyards longer than the allocated time by enjoying the food and wine, as the tram passes by again during the course of the day.
A well colour coded detailed brochure is handed to you at the ticket office but if you are anything like me, you would just use it as a fan and depend on the efficient tour guides…so don’t fear.
A word of warning, the tram is run punctually and if you are tardy in any way, you could be disappointed and miss out on one of the stops hoped for. So be on time!
I can surely say that this was a festive affair. With strangers chatting and enjoying one another’s company along the way. A great treat for a bride-to-be and her retinue as we discovered as well; so bridesmaids this is a really cool idea for a hen party. Couples with kids are more than welcome, where the children enjoy the tractor rides and exploring the farms.
The Wine Tram on the yellow route offered the following destinations, in no particular order:
- La Bri
Estate Tasting – R 50 & wine parings R60.00
5 Wines – R 60 pp
- Dieu Donne
Welcoming “wine of the day” (1 glass)
- Leopards Leap
5 Wines – R 25 pp
(from Lookout and/or Classic Range)
R 10 per wine tasting
Welcome drink (1 glass)
Own choice of three wines R 30 pp
- Rickety Bridge
5 Wines – R 15 pp
- Grande Provence
Premium Tasting – R 40 pp
Our party, including two teenaged girls who enjoyed themselves with refreshing beverages and cheese boards, not to mention taking panoramic pics and tons of selfies, decided to pop in at four of the eight vineyards on offer.
Rickety Bridge was our first stop. As this is the first stop on route for all the colour coded lines, can become quite congested. Unfortunately, I personally felt this stop to be a rushed affair and although the tour indicates an hour for each stop, it was much less. Needless to say this stop was a bit disappointing. The highlight though was the scenic tram and bumpy tractor ride, where we had to hold on for dear life (okay, I’m exaggerating), but it was really fun and it brings out the kid in one.
Five wines are on offer at R 15.00 per person.
Personally, I would suggest three wines at most, with the time constraints in mind.
We decided to stop off at La Brie, the view of the mountain range was breath-taking. This experience was much more relaxed and the friendly, personal touch with clean glasses after each tasting was well noted. The tasting room was also a lot cooler and one could relax on their cosy couches inside or sit out on the deck.
On entering, and as we passed a party of revellers, they advised us to try the Cheese Platter, which was we did and can highly recommend same, along with the “Biltong and Wine Experience”.)
Some of their signature wines up for tasting are:
Cellar Door White (Chadonnay/Viognier) 2015
La Bri Merlot 2014
La Bri Syrah 2013 Michelangelo Gold
Cellar Door Red (Merlot/Cab/Cabfranc/Petit verdot) 2012 Ultra Value Awards Silver
La Bri Affinity (Cabernet based Bordeaux Blend) 2013 Wine spectator 90 points, AGP Top 10
Dieu Donné, up in the mountains with a breath-taking view of the valley and surrounds and a welcome drink is worth a visit. The Vineyard is rich in history and culture, with its symbolic Croix De Lorraine cross signifying the spirit of non-conformity. When translated, we were told that “Dieu Donne” means “gift from God”.
Dieu Donné’s wines include: Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Rosé, Méthode Cap Classique, Noble late Harvest, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Shiraz.
Wine tasting on offer is set at R 15 = 3 wines; R 20 = 4 wines and R 30 = 6 wines
Rosé 2016 – “light bodied, semi-sweet with fruity, raspberry and strawberry flavours on the palate. Great with fruit salad”
Sauvignon Blanc 2015 – “fresh fruity upfront style, with grassy, greenfig aromas”
Chardonnay 2016 (unwooded) – “soft and rounded, creamy, lemony undertones”
Chardonnay 2016 (wooded) – “full bodied with lemony flavours, completed by vanilla. Aged for twelve months in French Oak”
A beautiful lush venue, for either a wedding or equally festive occasions. Definitely one of my favourite stops for the day.
Leopard’s Leap was our last stop and on first entering, it was more modern with what appeared to be a round sushi bar set up. Instead, innovative and elegant wines were served by animated and knowledgeable young trend setters.
They have produced a diverse portfolio of wines ranging from the Culinaria Collection, specifically created to celebrate the partnership between food and wine. In this rage, one can enjoy the Brut, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Noir Chardonnay, Grand Vin, Shiraz Grenache and the blushing Culinaria Collection.
The Family Collection is exclusively made from extraordinary vintages. This limited collection currently comprises a Rhône-style blend of Shiraz, Mourvèdre and Viognier.
The elegant Classic Collection, offers a range of versatile wines, namely: Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay (unwooded), Chardonnay Viognier. In its reds, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot, Pinotage Shiraz and Shiraz. Its little blush beauty is the Chardonnay Pinot Noir.
They have also introduced the Lookout Range, which is perfect for everyday social enjoyment. In this range, they have the Chenin Blanc Chardonnay, the Semi-Sweet (white), Pinotage Rose and Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz.
At Leopard’s Leap, they also offer fun cooking classes, wine tasting of course and it houses a culinary shop with delicious buffet style rotisserie lunches.
I would definitely go back again. I simply love the wine tram journey as there is something great for everyone in the family to experience.