The Perfect Winelands Weekend With the Family
HL editor Tiaan Nagel’s top picks for a winelands weekend in Franschhoek and Stellenbosch for a young family.
I work in Cape Town but live in Johannesburg, which occasionally takes its toll on our family dynamic. So, a few weeks ago I decided to mix things up and fly my family to Cape Town for a winelands weekend. And instead of me dreading the usual airport rush out of the city on a Friday afternoon, we were on our way to our first stop: La Petite Ferme in Franschhoek.
Winelands Weekend Stop 1: La Petite Ferme
What a treat it was. The whole idea of the weekend away was to spend some time together, drink some wine and basically just take it slow while Raf (our busy three-year-old son) got to run around outside – which La Petite Ferme is perfect for.
On arrival, they charmed all three of us with a great local MCC for me and my wife, plus an instant walk through the gardens to view the peacocks and squirrels with Raf.
The whole setting is calm and peaceful, and at our private villa with its own splash pool, it was total tranquillity.
The rooms are luxurious and beautifully decorated, with no detail overlooked, and the bathrooms are spectacular. Ours featured loads of marble cladding and large windows overlooking the vineyard.
In the evening, we dined at La Petite Ferme's country style restaurant overlooking the Franschhoek valley, where head chef Kyle Norris turned seasonal produce from the surrounding area into dishes with lots of texture and great flavours.
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Winelands Weekend Stop 2: Fynbos Cottages at Babylonstoren
The following morning, straight after our breakfast under the big oak trees in the garden, we packed our miniscule rental car and headed back through Franschhoek to Babylonstoren.
This place is absolute heaven and we booked into the new Fynbos Cottages, set high up the hill at the back of the farm. I have waxed lyrical about the interiors of the old farmhouse and original hotel rooms at Babylonstoren before, but the new section – which has its own pool, poolhouse and private fynbos garden – is perhaps even more beautiful.
This farm knows how to entertain kids – we went for a private garden tour during which Raf got to pick the carrots and feed the two donkeys on the farm. He also went to collect eggs for breakfast from the chicken coop and chased guinea fowl until they turned on him.
But the highlight of this visit was the food. Babel, Babylonstoren’s restaurant, is one of my favourite places in the country to eat. They source great produce from the farm's own vegetable garden and let the menu take its cue from what is seasonal and fresh. After a full day on the farm, Raf fell asleep on a super-chic makeshift tablecloth bed in the restaurant, while we experienced the perfect wine selection to complement the food.
The following morning, before we set off to our next stop, we explored the new scent room. There, we stocked up on some fragranced candles and my wife concocted a natural scrub during one of the workshops now held here regularly for visitors and guests.
Winelands Weekend Stop 3: Majeka House
This spot felt much more urban compared to the other two farm stayovers, but was somehow just as relaxing.
The rooms are beautifully decked out in contrasting wallpapers, with lots of tongue-in-cheek design elements – such as an enormous Moooi horse in the entrance hall or a charcoal pig as a sidetable – adding playful twists to the interiors. After a day spent relaxing next to our own private pool, I couldn’t wait to try Lucas Carstens' new menu at Makaron restaurant, where he creates a very modern take on traditional South African cuisine. It was exceptionally good.
The hotel has a beautiful library stocked with a great selection of books, perfect for after-dinner drinks and coffee – perhaps not so perfect for a toddler who should have been in bed two hours ago, but was by now bouncing around due to every staff member offering sweets and some of chef Carstens' popped rice as treats... not surprising, perhaps, that he felt so energised at the end of our weekend escape, as my wife and I certainly felt the same way.