Summer in Cape Town, means long lazy days spent in the sunshine. And, while many may choose to spend these glorious days at the beach, my inner compass takes me away from the sea and to a place where vineyards and mountains reign supreme. That’s why when greeted by one fantastic day at the beginning of summer I chose to pack up my suitcase and head to Franschhoek and Rickety Bridge winery for a weekend of food and fun in a Wineland wonderland…
First up, lunch at Paulinas
Upon arriving at Rickety Bridge, our stomachs were rumbling and so we quickly dumped our luggage and were off to Paulinas. Named after Paulina de Villiers, who originally owned the property in 1797, the restaurant offers classy cuisine without being overly stuffy. It’s all about healthy portions served alfresco on the terrace, while enjoying the fantastic views over the vines, to the mountains beyond. The menu, although small, offers up a wonderful collection of tantalizing options that you will struggle to find elsewhere.
For starters, we indulged in humungous portions of pork bitterballen and mushroom arancini. With each portion coming with three balls as well as a side of cabbage slaw or stir-fried vegetables these could be easily shared for the not so hungry. Moving on to mains and I opt for the Caeser salad, while hubby went for a beef fillet served with crushed garlic potatoes, seasonal baby vegetables, and truffle mushroom sauce. I was in for some serious order envy as the steak was soft enough to cut with a fork. Rounding it off, the home-baked cheesecake with berry compote comes highly recommended!
Spending the night at Rickety Bridge Manor House
With a few days of wining and dining on the cards, we knew we simply wouldn’t be able to drive back to Cape Town and so decided to spend the night at Rickety Bridge’s very own manor house. The manor house offers simply stunning, and super cosy five-star accommodation right on the estate, within steps from the restaurant and tasting room.
The 19th-century Cape Dutch manor house has been lovingly restored with all the comforts you would want, while still maintaining the country-style lounge, kitchen, and old wooden beams, floors, and historic furniture. It provided the perfect respite after busy days traipsing the Winelands and indulging in too much wine in the hot summer sun. A pool beckoned in the shady courtyard but the best place to be proved to be the large tub in our room with a glass of complimentary port in hand!
Horseriding at Paradise Stables
Having been to Franschhoek a good few times, we longed to discover a different side of the area. And the road less travelled took us to Paradise Stables. Owned by an old Franschhoek family, themselves descendants of some of the first Huguenots to settle in the area, the experience at Paradise Stables was so about so much more than just a horse ride. The owners of the farm are immensely passionate about what they do and have a myriad of horses running free on their paddocks.
We saddled up and set off for a leisurely hour or two outride to get a different perspective of the valley. Our ride was an easy amble over the mountains, through dense forests, and of course, vineyards, providing perfect views of Franschhoek below. Along the way, we were regaled by many a story of the area, including being shown the old elephant tracks where the elephants would make their way into the valley when they once roamed these hills. Although the shorter ride was perfect for us, next time we’ll definitely be back to give their horse riding and wine tasting experience a try!
Wine Tasting in Franschhoek
And talking about wine tasting, no visit to the Franschhoek valley is complete without trying some of the delicious varietals found here. Some of my favourites include the Brut Method Cap Classique from Haute Cabrière and the Leopard’s Leap Chardonnay-Pinot Noir. After stopping in at a few farms it was back to Rickety Bridge for a wine tasting experience with a difference.
While wine pairing experiences are all the rage nowadays, Rickety Bridge’s panna cotta and wine pairing is truly unique. The chef has created six different panna cottas, pairing with three whites and three reds, to create a delicious indulgence that is desert and wine tasting all in one go! It must be said, that this is the first time I have experienced a wine pairing where the food actually made a remarkable, noticeable difference to the tasting notes of the wine.
Not quite ready to call it a day quite yet, we finished up our wine tasting experience and our time in Franschhoek, by making our very own wine. Rickety Bridge’s wine blending experience can either be done on-site or ordered for delivery to do in the comfort of your own home. It involved mixing three different wines to create our own blend. Labelled with our own hand-crafted design and even corked by us, we now have our very own, completely unique Rickety Bridge wine! It is sure to tide us over until we return, which will no doubt be soon!