Don’t drink and drive, that’s rule number one. In the South African wine region of Franschhoek they have found a brilliant solution for this: in the wine tram, you ride past all the surrounding vineyards. This allows you to go from vineyard to vineyard and taste as much wine as you desire. You never get lost, and you don’t have to drive either: perfect!
Idyllic Franschhoek is an hour’s drive from Cape Town. In the town, surrounded by mountains, it is as if time stands still. As the name suggests, Franschhoek was built by the French settlers. Large Huguenot houses characterize the streets. Many of South Africa’s top restaurants have settled here, with no fewer than eight in the country’s top 100. But that’s not really why we’re here.
No, Franschhoek is the perfect base to visit the numerous vineyards and estates in the region. That is possible by car, though that is not so wise. It is also possible by bike, but that requires effort. Fortunately, there is the perfect solution: the Wine Tram. This classically built tram starts in the center of Franschhoek and takes you over several routes to the surrounding vineyards during the day.
There are eight different lines for the wine tram. You can buy a ticket for the line of your choice at the ticket office in the middle of Franschhoek. Then, you get on the tram with a hop-on hop-off system. If you want to visit all the vineyards on your line, you can spend 45 minutes per vineyard to taste some wine, after which you have to get back on the tram to the next one. To avoid rushing, we recommend staying a little longer on about four to five vineyards. This way, you can also take a stroll through the fields of the vineyard, visit the wine cellars or watch the making process.
The great thing about the tram is that you can take in the breathtaking scenery on the ride between the vineyards. Yes, those yards of grapes are a beautiful sight to behold; but the surrounding mountains, brightly colored flowers, and beautiful architecture of the houses are just as breathtaking. And while you think of how much this piece of South Africa is reminiscent of the south of France; the tram slows down and the next wine glasses are already being poured again.
Under the big oak
If we can highlight one wine estate, it has to be Boschendal at the end of the orange line. From the tram station to the mansion, you walk on a country road, in the shade of large oak trees. When the road turns the corner, an imposing white mansion stands in the distance. But even bigger and more impressive is the huge oak tree in the courtyard in front of the house. Around the trunk of this tree is a round wine bar made of wood. In the shade of the giant oak are cast iron chairs and tables that function as a terrace. The last glasses of wine of a day on the wine tram under this tree taste truly magical. Perhaps because plenty of glasses have made their way in by now. But watching the squirrels bustle through the garden, while a leaf from this primeval tree whirls down here and there; it’s like something out of a fairy tale.
The last ride on the tram takes you back to the original station in Franschhoek. With many top restaurants in the city, it’s not hard to get a good bite to eat. After that, it’s only a few steps, a tumble, and a wobbly walk to your sleeping address. Another tip from the author: have a paracetamol ready for the next day ;).
A ticket for the wine tram costs 260 rand, or fifteen euros. The wine tastings range from 25 to 150 rand per person, or converted, one and a half to nine euros. These are not included in the price and you must be paid separately per vineyard. Some vineyards also have dining options, but not all. So plan where you will go ahead of time if you also want to have lunch.
Tip: discover winemaker Martin’s favorites too.
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