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Report 2042: Early Summer in the Western Cape, South Africa

By Panda from UK, Summer 2012

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Page 8 of 12: Cycling Tour of the Valley and Wine Estate Dining

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Franschhoek Valley

As penance for our indulgent meal of the previous evening and lack of exercise, the next morning we rented bikes for a tour around the valley. The rental shop owner said that the route he was pointing out on the map was quite easy, but maybe I should have taken more note of his six foot plus of solid muscle! The route led out of town through some vineyards, then up and up (and up) a long mountain road, past wine and fruit farms with wonderful views (and a couple of useful breathing spots). The road down was , well, let’s say exhilarating, then we had fun getting lost around a dam with large ‘Keep Out’ signs (we were trying) before finding the red earth dirt track that gave us a bumpy but picturesque ride back to the main valley. It was very quiet, but we soon learnt to go right over to the side of the road and face away when passed by the local farm vehicles, if we didn’t want to inhale the red dust cloud for the next five minutes. It was gorgeous, though, and we would never have appreciated the views and countryside in quite the same way by car. We encountered the two other small groups who had rented bikes at the same time as us – they were being shown the wine tasting cycle route (which I don’t think included the up, up, up and the down, down, down but did seem to include the exhilaration - plus singing) We eventually reached the main road back into the valley, which I thought would involve a long gentle gradient down back into town. Not quite: it was a long, uphill ride back to the valley head, heading directly into a strong wind, whilst staying out of the path of wine trucks and tour buses. Phew – we enjoyed a long soak and a nap in the afternoon after that.

The Auberge had booked dinner for us at a nearby wine estate - Holden Manz - that evening, which was not only highly recommended but which provided a free shuttle service. Before it came to collect us, we enjoyed sundowners on the ‘stoep’ (veranda), with Linda and Bruce and another pair of guests. We tried the produce of the auberge’s own vineyards, a delicious Cabernet Sauvignon.

Holden Manz is a good example of the large wine estates that flourish in this area: wine making is at the heart of the business, but they also host tastings and tours, weddings and events, have on site accommodation and a restaurant. The large and stylish restaurant (called The Franschhoek Kitchen) is on the upper floor of the tasting room building, with views across the acres of vines. We enjoyed a delicious dinner accompanying it with the estate wines. I was charmed to be brought three little tasting glasses of the estate rosés to try when I asked the waitress to explain the differences.

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