Where goods used to be transported, wine lovers can now experience the Franschhoek Valley - in the truest sense of the word, because the Franschhoek Tram rails were originally built so that farmers did not have to transport their goods to the market with an ox cart. This was in 1904. Over time, steam locomotives were replaced by diesel locomotives until their operation was temporarily suspended. In 2012, the line, which had been abandoned for more than a decade, was revived with the Franschhoek Wine Tram and drives connoisseurs from winery to winery. Today, wine lovers travel at 32 kilometres per hour in new double-decker trams, which are based on the historic wagons of 1923, through the picturesque landscape, enjoy the view and learn something about the history of the Franschhoek Valley and the wine-growing associated with it. Several wineries are served on eight different routes, which can be visited according to the hop on hop off principle: You get off at a winery and after a wine tasting or cellar tour simply take the next tram to continue your journey - for many the most beautiful way to travel and discover the Franschhoek Valley.
Experience wine in a familiar atmosphere
The pink and the grey line are served by Leopard's Leap, Môreson and Eikehof. At Leopard’s Leap, the heart beats not only for good wine but also for good food. Visitors can convince their selves with a Wine and Food- Pairing (Fridays at 12 o’clock) with the creations of the Culinaria Collection. The wines of this range are excellent meal companions and were the inspiration for this tasting. If you would like to grab a spoon yourself, you can take one of the cooking classes. Discover with a glass of wine in your hand how to combine wine and food. The owners of Môreson also appreciate the culinary delights. Besides great wines, there is something else that they are crazy about: their four-legged flatmates. No wonder that house dog Molly is the secret star of Môreson which is a perfect place to let the soul dangle a bit in the carefree mood and the idyllic location at the Happy Valley Road. A commonality the winery shares with Eikehof. Here, guests are warmly welcomed and in the familiar atmosphere of the tasting room, they can taste the creations of François Malherbe with a delicious cheese platter and can take the stunning views of the Drakenstein Mountains in the shade of the old oak trees.
© Moreson / © Eikehof / © Leopard´s Leap
Grandios views over Franschhoek Valley
The purple and orange lines stop at the traditional wineries Allée Bleue, Vrede en Lust, Babylonstoren and Backsberg. Discover the excellent wines from Allée Bleue in a tasting and get worth knowing information about the long history of the winery which dates back to the 17 century. Or you make a stop for lunch with fresh and seasonal ingredients at the bistro. In summer, you can make a picnic and relax in the shade of the trees – how you could better enjoy the Cape Winelands than with a glass of wine in your hand? You also have a breathtaking view from Vrede en Lust which lies in the middle of Franschhoek Valley. With the glance over the Simonsberg Paarl Mountains, the wine tasting is an experience for all the senses. By the way: During a cellar tour (25 Rand/person) you can take a look behind the scenes and see how the wine production works. As the number of participants for these tours is limited, booking in advance is recommended.
Beautiful landscape alongside the Franschhoek Wine Tram
If you visit Babylonstoren, you should definitely make a detour into the beautiful garden which was created after the model of the Company’s Garden in Cape Town. Each of the 300 plants has a medical value or is edible – so everything from berries over nuts and herbs goes to the plates of the two restaurants Babel and Greenhouse. The food tastes so good again when you strengthened here after a walk for the onward journey with the Franschhoek Wine Tram. Nature plays also an important role at Backsberg because it’s one of the first South African wineries which produce its accessible wines carbon neutral. Visitors can choose between different wine tastings – how about a chocolate and wine or a wine-cheese-pairing?
Enjoy art and culinary art
The heart of Holden Manz also beats for art – and of course for great wine and culinary delights. The blue, green, red and yellow lines of the Franschhoek Wine Tram lead to the Holden Manz. Apart from a wine tasting you should plan a lunch at Franschhoek Kitchen – one of the leading restaurants in Franschhoek – if you get out here. Enjoy finest cuisine and the magnificent view over the vineyards before you drive on to the next winery. This could be Rickety Bridge, for example. The winery is one the most popular destinations of the Cape Winelands. Here, you can find a new offer under the wine tasting options: “Panna Cotta & Wine Paring”. Discover how seasonal Panna Cotta variations can accentuate the character of the wines. Cellar tours are possible by appointment.
Sepctecular views in Franschhoek Valley
Art lovers are also right at Grande Provence. The estate’s gallery is one of the most popular galleries on the Cape and presents some of the best South African artists. The architecture of Grande Provence is also exciting because it unites the traditional Cape Dutch architecture of the Manor House with the modern industrial design of the restaurant. By the way: the winery lies also on the way of the red and yellow line of the Franschhoek Wine Tram – like Rickety Bridge, Haute Cabrière and Chamonix. During a visit at Haute Cabrière, you should definitely taste a Méthode Cap Classique. If you take part in a cellar tour with following wine tasting you can experience very close how a sparkling wine bottle is opened during a sabrage – an old tradition of the ancestors which still offers a spectacular sight. The view of the untouched nature is also indescribable that you have at Chamonix because one of the highest vineyards at the Cape belongs to winery. The award-winning wines can be tasted in the comfortable tasting room which is housed in “Blacksmith’s Cottage” from the late 18 century. If you want to stay longer at Chamonix, you can chose between different types of accommodation – or you continue your journey with the Franschhoek Wine Tram and discover the next winery.
© Grande Provence / © Haute Cabrière / © Chamonix
Timetables and tickets
Tickets for a tour with the Franschhoek Wine Tram are available online or at the Ticket Office, which is located in the centre of the city of Franschhoek (Huguenot Road 32). Adults pay 240 Rand, children (3-17 years) 90 Rand. The start and end point of the tours is the office. Wine tasting fees are not included in the fare. Those wishing to eat in one of the winery restaurants should book in advance. Further information about the Franschhoek Wine Tram and the timetables for the individual lines can be found at http://winetram.co.za/.