Tag Archives: La Petite Dauphine

Chef Chris Erasmus to branch out into new Franschhoek Folliage restaurant!

Folliage Chef Chris Erasmus Whale Cottage PortfolioA quick Easter Hot Cross Bun and coffee at Pierneef à La Motte was a double treat when Chef Chris Erasmus came to say hello and joined me at the table to share the news about his new Folliage restaurant, which he plans to open in the heart of the Franschhoek village just before the Bastille weekend in mid-July.

Chef Chris was beaming, clearly excited about his new project, even though he says that he is a little nervous about running his own business for the first time.  Chef Chris worked at Le Quartier Français, at Pied à Terre in London, and at Ginja in Cape Town before he joined Pierneef à La Motte almost four years ago, and took the restaurant to Eat Out Top 10 Restaurant last year.  He leaves La Motte on 15 June. He is opening his restaurant on the corner of Berg Street and main road, just two blocks from our Whale Cottage Franschhoek, in walking distance for our guests, who prefer to walk to the village for dinner than to drive to any of the good restaurants on theFolliage exterior building Whale Cottage Portfolio wine estates just outside the village. The restaurant will seat up to 70 for lunch, including outside, and 40 inside at night.  The building belongs to the owners of La Petite Dauphine, and one of its owners, Gert Gertzen, is a highly regarded interior designer, and he is working with Chef Chris in planning the decor, which will have a wood ceiling, and wood furniture, on a concrete floor.

Right next door is the IS art gallery, which moved into the same building a week ago, a Continue reading →

Franschhoek Artisan Food Route launched to showcase local ‘handcrafted produce’!

One can commend Franschhoek Wine Valley tourism for constantly finding new ways to attract visitors to its gourmet food and wine village. Now it has launched the Franschhoek Artisan Food Route, attracting attention to the diversity of 21 hand-made high quality small quantity food producers in the valley, with more to be added.

The little A5 Franschhoek Wine Valley leaflet about the Franschhoek Artisan Food Route does not do justice to the quality of the food artisans on the Route, and one wonders why they skimped to keep the map so small, when the Wine and Restaurant map is A3 in size!  The result is that the detail provided is minimal, just three lines per food artisan, with the exception of La Motte’s entry.  The Franschhoek Artisan Food Route will be launched to the media later this week.  Many of the food artisans on the Route have operated in the valley for years.  Not all the listed artisanal outlets seem true to the definition provided in the Route map: ‘Artisan producers understand and respect the raw materials with which they work. They know where these materials come from and what is particularly good about them’! A number of artisanal producers have been left off the list, Continue reading →

New Franschhoek Wine Valley Food and Wine Route puts Franschhoek restaurants and wine estates on the map

The Franschhoek Wine Valley (the new tourism body name, the “Tourism Association” part of the name recently having been dropped) Food & Wine Route has been launched to the media, and soon will be presented in a new map, that will reflect the wealth of 42 restaurants, 48 wine estates and 3 delis and shops that sell foodstuffs in and around Franschhoek. The new Food & Wine Route is a good marketing reaction to the increasing dominance of Stellenbosch as the new gourmet center of South Africa, and its large number of wine estates, even though the tourism association’s website still refers to Franschhoek as the “Gourmet Capital of South Africa”!

Last year we wrote about the Food & Wine Route when it was first announced, and from the initial information it appeared to have a broader focus initially.  Now the Route is more focused, and will incorporate mainly the restaurants and wine estates that are members of Franschhoek Wine Valley.   Interestingly, the geographic delineation of Franschhoek has been broadened to incorporate the wine estates and restaurants on the R45 between Klapmuts and Simondium, including Noble Hill, Backsberg, and Babel at Babylonstoren, on the basis that they have become members of the Franschhoek Wine Valley association, even if they fall under the Paarl wine district.   Strangely, Glen Carlou has not chosen to be part of the Franschhoek Food & Wine Route, it being one of the first properties one passes when driving to Franschhoek on the R45.

Tania Steyn, the Marketing Manager of Franschhoek Wine Valley, explained that this new project consists of two parts.  The first is the Food & Wine Route map, in A3 size, which will list all the restaurants and wine estates, the one side featuring those in the village, and the other side those that are outside Franschhoek.   The Food & Wine Route map will replace the most handy Franschhoek Wine map, which guest houses and their guests have found to be useful in highlighting all the Vigneron members in Franschhoek.  The second part of the project is an e-commerce platform for specific Food and Wine Route Experiences, that one cannot visit spontaneously without a booking.  The bookings will be made on the website, and it is hoped that visitors to Franschhoek will book a number of such experiences, and will therefore stay in the area for longer.

The wine estates on the new Franschhoek Wine Valley Food & Wine Route are Akkerdal, Allèe Bleue, Anthonij Rupert Wines (L’Ormarins and Protea brands, and home of the outstanding Motor Museum), Backsberg, Boekenhoutskloof, Boschendal Wines, Chamonix, Colmant Cap Classique & Champagne, Dieu Donnè Vineyards, Franschhoek Cellar, Glenwood, Graham Beck Franschhoek, Grande Provence Estate, Haute Cabriere (with Pierre Jourdan sparkling wines), Holden Manz (previously Klein Genot), La Bri, La Chataigne, La Motte (with Pierneef art gallery), La Petite Dauphine, La Petite Ferme, La Manoir de Brendel, Leopard’s Leap, Lynx Wines, Maison, Mont Rochelle, Moreson, My Wyn, Noble Hill, Plaisir de Merle, Rickety Bridge, Solms-Delta (with interesting slave museum), Stony Brook, Topiary Wines (newest Platter 5-star sparkling wine in Franschhoek), Val de Vie, and Vrede & Lust.   These wine estates can be visited without appointment.

Those estates for which one must book a winetasting are Eikehof, Franschhoek Pass Winery (Morena sparkling wine), Haut Espoir, La Bourgogne, La Roche estate, La Vigne, Landau du Val, Rupert & Rothschild Vignerons and Von Ortloff.  Bellingham Wines, Klein Dauphine, La Chaumière and Veraison Vineyards are not open to the public at all, but their wines can be bought at the highly regarded Franschhoek wine shop La Cotte Inn on the main road in the village.

The Franschhoek restaurants and food outlets on the Food & Wine Route are Allora, Babel at Babylonstoren, Backsberg, Boschendal Restaurant, Boschendal Le Café and Boschendal Le Pique-Nique, Bread & Wine, Café Allèe Bleue, Cafè BonBon, Col’Cacchio Pizzeria, Cosecha Restaurant at Noble Hill, Dalewood Fromage (but not open to the public), Dieu Donnè Restaurant, Dutch East, Elephant & Barrel, Essence, Fizz Affair Champagne Lounge, Franschhoek Kitchen at Holden Manz, Freedom Hill Restaurant, Fyndraai Restaurant at Solms-Delta, The Restaurant at Grande Provence, Haute Cabrière, Huguenot Fine Chocolates, Kalfi’s, Fromages de France (La Cotte Inn),  Le Bon Vivant, Dish @ Le Franschhoek, Le Verger The Orchard Restaurant (Le Franschhoek Hotel), The Common Room, The Tasting Room,  L’Ermitage Restaurant, Mon Plaisir at Chamonix, Mange Tout, Monneaux, Reuben’s, Rickety Bridge, Ryan’s Kitchen, Salmon Bar, The Country Kitchen, The French Connection, The Grill Room, The Jam Jar, The Olive Shack, and The Polo Club Restaurant (at La Vie). Oddly, Pierneef à La Motte is not listed, and one hopes this is just an oversight.   Other missing restaurants are Café Benedict, BICCCS, Chez D’Or, Cotage Fromage at Vrede & Lust, Crepe & Cidre, Café Le Chocolatier, Café des Arts, and the Franschhoek Food Emporium.

The Franschhoek Food & Wine Route Experiences which one can book include the following:

*   Solms-Delta Cape Music Tour, teaching participants about “Cape rural and vernacular music”. R 50 (minimum of 6 persons).  Monday – Sunday.

*   Plaisir de Merle “Award-winning wines wine tasting”. R 20, and R40 if cellar tour added. Monday – Saturday

Plaisir de Merle Flavour Sensation Tasting, food and wine pairing. R 50.  Monday – Saturday

*   Plaisir de Merle Wine & Chocolate Tasting. R 50. Monday – Saturday

*   Charcuterie Tasting with Neil Jewell. R 25 – R105. Daily before 11h00 and after 15h30

*   Franschhoek Cellar Cheese and Wine pairing. R 35.  Daily

*   Huguenot Fine Chocolates Chocolate Tour and Tasting. R 25.  Daily 11h00 and 15h00

*   Chamonix Grappa & Schnapps Tasting. R15.  Daily

*   Dieu Donné Micro-brewery and beer tasting. R15 beer tasting and R 35 for full bewery talk and tasters.  Daily

*   Babylonstoren Guided Garden Visit. R 20, Wednesday – Sunday 10h00 and 15h00.

*   Le Bon Vivant Surprise Menu. R 485 for 5-course meal and wine, R360 without wine. Daily except Wednesdays.

*   Food and wine pairing at Pierneef à La Motte. R 195 for 5 pairings, extra R 50 for glass of La Motte MCC. Tuesday – Sunday 12h00 – 14h00.

*   Cape Gourmet Delights Tour, with stops at Grande Provence, Moreson and Vrede & Lust. R1995 per day includes “light lunch”. 10 persons maximum.  Monday – Friday.

A walking tour as well as a talk on ceramics are part of this programme, but seem out of place in not having anything to do with Wine or Food.

One hopes that the Franschhoek Wine Valley Food & Wine Route map will indicate which wine estates, food shops and restaurants sell foods, such as the vegetables, breads and chocolates at the Farm Shop at Pierneef à La Motte; salmon products and breads at the Salmon Bar; the Mediterranean delicacies at The Olive Shack; wonderful freshly baked wholewheat bread at Grande Provence; breads and sweet treats at Café BonBon and Café Benedict; olive oils and balsamic vinegar at Allèe Bleue; heavenly chocolates as well as breads at Café Le Chocolatier; Truckles cheeses at Franschhoek Cellar; and a selection of home-made pies, preserves, dips, cold meats and breads at the new Franschhoek Food Emporium.   It would be good if the fortnightly Farmers’ Market at Holden Manz also be listed.

We salute the Franschhoek Wine Valley for putting together this initiative, and trust that the Food & Wine Route map will be finalised and printed as soon as possible, given that the summer season ends in two months’ time.   We encourage Franschhoek Wine Valley to add the names of the omitted Franschhoek restaurants, by encouraging them to sign up as members, so that the map can be as representative of the food and wine delights in Franschhoek as possible.

POSTSCRIPT 22/4: The new Franschhoek Wine Valley Food & Wine Route maps have been made available, and can be collected from the Franschhoek Tourism Bureau, or from Whale Cottage Franschhoek.  Oddly, it lists the two Pick ‘n Pays too, under the ‘Franschhoek Restaurants & Food section”.  Following our recommendation above, the Franschhoek Food Emporium was added, but Café Le Chocolatier, Café Benedict, BICCCS, Chez d’Or, Cotage Fromage, Crepe et Cidre, Café des Arts, and the new Le Coq are not on the map.  Other sources of food to buy, as listed two paragraphs above, are not indicated on the map.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Franschhoek becomes Wedding Valley!

The Franschhoek Wine Valley may soon change its name to the Franschhoek Wedding Valley, if the trend to an increasing number of weddings taking place in and outside Franschhoek continues!


The value of wedding tourism has never been calculated for Franschhoek, but could easily be in the region of R 25 million per year in direct venue and catering income, and double that when expenditure on accommodation, wine, restaurant meals and shopping in  Franschhoek before, during and after the wedding is added. 


Wedding Tourism has become a vastly important source of revenue for the Western Cape, and for Franschhoek particularly, and the valley will soon be called the Wedding Capital of South Africa, in addition to being the Gourmet Capital already.  Between 50 – 100 weddings take place in Franschhoek per month in summer, it is estimated.


Some wine estates have indicated that their revenue or profitability is greater from weddings than it is from their wine production!


How did this all come about?


For the past few years an increasing stream of young South African school leavers have left to do a gap year in London, while university graduates have also sought greener pastures there.  Many have opted to stay in London, due to their earning ability.  The young South African ladies get engaged to their British beaus, and get to choose the wedding venue back home.  Nostalgically, they think of the Cape Winelands, and the Cape Dutch gable buildings on them in particular, even if they did not grow up in the area.

Wedding tourism benefits tourism generally in that 50 – 100 British friends and family will come to South Africa to attend a wedding, and this introduces the country to many first-time visitors, who would not necessarily have chosen this country as a tourism destination.         

The value of the Wedding Tourism industry in the Western Cape has been estimated at R 120 million, according to The South African.   The United Kingdom is the major source of wedding business, with the bride usually being South African and the groom from the UK.    For the price of a wedding and reception in the UK the couple is able to hold a lavish wedding and enjoy their honeymoon in South Africa.    Local weddings are attractive as the weather is guaranteed to be better than in the UK, they cost less, and offer a variety of appealing venues in the Winelands and at top restaurants.  

While Stellenbosch used to be the premier wedding destination just a few years ago, local tourism players have seen an increasing number of weddings taking place in Franschhoek.   The large wine estates surrounding Franschhoek are well placed to cater for large weddings.


Jenny Prinsloo, CEO of the Franschhoek Wine Valley Tourism Association (FWVTA), says Franschhoek is well placed to be the perfect wedding venue for large and smaller weddings, offering an exclusive and personalized service to wedding guests wishing to make the most of their most memorable day.   “It is an exotic destination” she added, and well set to provide top quality catering, wines, professional staff and beautiful settings


Has the credit crunch affected the wedding industry in Franschhoek?   Most wedding venues state that the number of weddings they have hosted this season, and bookings ahead, show that the number of weddings will remain roughly the same.   However, what has changed is a shift in the period in which they are being held, the days of the week on which they are held, and the number of persons attending a wedding.


Karen Minnaar of the N G Church says that the number of bookings for the church for weddings will be down slightly, to 40 this year, from 44 last year, the best year for the church as far as weddings go.    She predicts that the number of weddings will not increase next year.   Up to 90 % of the weddings taking place at the church are held on Saturdays.    Most weddings are with “mixed” couples, a term a number of wedding venues used to describe the South African/UK partnership between bride and groom.


What does a wedding cost?     It can range from R 150 000 for a wedding of around 150 guests, up to R 500 000 at the exclusive La Residence, and this includes the wedding venue, food and wine only.  All other weddings services such as décor, music, special wedding cars, flowers, etc are contracted out and paid for separately.


The largest wedding venues are Allee Bleue, Le Franschhoek Hotel, Boschendal, and Vrede & Lust.


Allee Bleue’s Ashley Whaley, co-GM, says that weddings earn more revenue, and are more profitable at this stage than the estate’s wines.    Wedding bookings have increased year on year, and she sees an increasing number of international brides and grooms.  The estate prides itself on being the largest wedding venue in the Valley, in that up to 220 wedding guests can be accommodated.   The average wedding size is 150 guests.   Up to three weddings are hosted per weekend in summer, making it about 10 – 12 per month.  The wedding ceremony is conducted in the Conference Room, which is dressed as a chapel, and the reception takes place outside, with a free-form tent catering for less favourable weather conditions.   Allee Bleue’s weddings have the benefit that there is no noise control, and that they can carry on late, being located outside Franschhoek.


The Le Franschhoek Hotel is a popular wedding venue, especially as it can accommodate a large number of the wedding guests in its 79 rooms as well, being the largest hotel in the Valley.   Sunette Pringle, Head of Banqueting, says the hotel’s wedding business is growing year on year, and the hotel hosts one wedding per weekend.  She is not seeing a reduction in wedding business for the season ahead, but does see “international” weddings becoming smaller, with about 30 – 80 guests, while South African wedding groups are around 100 in size.   The Hotel has a number of Americans marrying at the venue, in addition to South African and British residents.  


Boschendal fits the Cape Dutch gabled building requirements of wedding couples most perfectly, and is steeped in tradition and history.  The ceremony is usually held at the nearby St George’s Anglican Church, drinks are served outside under the oak trees, and the reception is held in the restaurant.   The wine estate sees itself as a restaurant first and foremost, and does not actively encourage weddings.  Its catering offering offers bridal couples less flexibility in that the buffet must be utilised.   The estate only hosts one wedding per month with up to 120 guests on average, says Boschendal’s Neil Els.


Vrede & Lust is one of the most sought after venues, and is trendy since Johannesburg socialite and TV personality Gerry Rantseli married her second husband on the estate last year.   The wedding was featured in the Sunday Times’ social pages.   Wiena Riedel, Hospitality Manager of Vrede & Lust, sees a definite reduction in the size of their weddings this season, down from around 120 guests to about 60 – 70, and attributes this to the global credit crunch.    It is one of the most active wedding estates, with an average of six weddings per month, which can increase to 12 in March.  The estate is seeing an increase in weddings held on weekdays, due to the 15 % discount it offers for mid-week weddings.


Smaller weddings are held at Grande Provence, Mont Rochelle, Haute Cabriere, Dieu Donne, La Petite Ferme, Rickety Bridge, Le Manoir de Brendel , Franschhoek Country House, and La Petite Dauphine.


Mont Rochelle caters for weddings with an average size of fifty guests, and has seen a trend to smaller and more intimate weddings.   They host only one or two weddings a month, so that the hotel operation is not affected.  La Petite Ferme also focuses on its restaurant business, and will not accept wedding bookings between November and February.  It caters for about two weddings a month in the remaining summer months, with about 60 – 80 wedding guests.  If the bridal couple want dancing, they have to book all the accommodation at La Petite Ferme.    Wilmari Dippenaar, wedding co-ordinator at La Petite Ferme, says she is satisfied with the number of wedding enquiries she is receiving, and cannot see any change due to the downturn.


Dieu Donne has only been open for a year, but can also see a steady increase in its wedding bookings, with one to two per month and up to 140 guests per wedding.   The ceremony is held on the downstairs terrace, with the superb backdrop of the Valley, and the Reception in the restaurant upstairs.


Rickety Bridge Winery can cater for up to 85 guests, and offers an attractive wedding package with accommodation on the estate and at the neighbouring Basse Provence.  One wedding is hosted per week, and this booking level continues until April.   Cindy Muller says that the Winery offers its wedding clients good value for money.  Franschhoek is attractive because of its beauty and proximity to Cape Town, and the village “is steeped in romance”, she says.


Le Manoir de Brendel has its own chapel and spa, and is a popular venue because of this feature.   Shirleen Waskis, who co-ordinates the estate’s weddings, says that the last two summer months have been on par with last year as far as wedding bookings go, but sees a decline for this month.  She says that the next three summer months will be back in line with the past year.  Wedding sizes have reduced, and bridal couples are becoming more demanding, wanting more for less.   The property can cater for about 50 guests in the chapel and in-door venue, and can accommodate larger weddings in its gardens.  


La Petite Dauphine is one of the newest wedding venues, and caters for small intimate weddings, of round 30 wedding guests, but can accommodate up to 100 guests.   Marie-Louise Oosthuizen manages the weddings, and says that her clients are mainly locals, from Cape Town.   The venue only hosts day-time weddings, and February and March are particularly good wedding months.   She says that for smaller weddings, her guests are likely to book the accommodation over a four day period, and a series of wedding-related activities are planned for the wedding guests.    She has also seen a trend of an increasing number of same-gender weddings being held at her venue.


Haute Cabriere is one of the few Franschhoek restaurants focusing on weddings.  Nicky Gordon says Franschhoek is a popular wedding venue because of its natural beauty and setting, which makes for good wedding photographs, and it offers a good spread of accommodation, from 5 star indulgence to 3 and 4 star value for money accommodation.    The restaurant has 2 – 3 weddings per month from November to mid-year, and is a popular venue for winter weddings, given that it can host the service in the wine cellar, and the reception in the restaurant.   An increasing number of foreigners are getting married at Haute Cabriere, with one of the couple being from South Africa originally.   Gordon does not see a decline in the wedding business due to the credit crunch, whilst the restaurant is seeing the downturn for meal bookings.   

Wedding tourism is a huge contributor to the tourism industry, and Franschhoek benefits from it in the summer months.   It is not only the wine and wedding estates that benefit from weddings, but also many other tourist sectors.

In “mixed” international weddings, the South African bride recommends the accommodation, car rental, restaurants, and trips to take before and after the wedding to her wedding guests, thereby making the planning of the trip to South Africa easy.   The bridal couple offers more than just a reception, to “compensate” for the far distance the friends and family have travelled, and the money they have spent on the ticket and the trip – often a wedding in Franschhoek will be followed by a picnic at Boschendal the day after, and a sailing trip may precede a wedding whilst the group of guests is in Cape Town prior to the wedding.   

Weddings convert tourists to regular visitors, given their surprise and delight at the beauty, value for money, safety and quality they experience in the Winelands.