Tag Archives: Lynx Wines

Summer Wines on show in Franschhoek!

Franschhoek Summer WineFranschhoek Vignerons is hosting Franschhoek Summer Wines today, from 12h00 – 17h00, at Leopard’s Leap.

The following wine estates will present white, Rosé, and MCC wines to taste: Anthonij Rupert Wines – L’Ormarins Brut Classique & Cape of Good Hope Altima Sauvignon Blanc 2014; Bellingham Wines – Bellingham Old Orchard Chenin Blanc 2013; Boschendal wines – Sauvignon Blanc 1685. Four Paws Wines – Four Paws Sauvignon Blanc Continue reading →

WhaleTales Tourism, Food, and Wine news headlines: 23 January

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   British wine writer Jancis Robinson has ended her visit to the Cape Winelands this week, and writes that she has beenhugely impressed by the quality of the wines of the best producers and by the much broader range of wine styles and provenances than there was on my last visit’ seven years ago. She described our country as the ‘wonderful source of underpriced fine white wine.  It has taken longer for red wines to please this finicky international palate‘.  Our industry does not need to be defined by our indigenous Pinotage, she feels.

*   Could Cape Town/South Africa/Africa get a Grand Prix again, after more than 20 years?   Bernie Ecclestone has speculated that such a race could be possible by next year.  As Killarney is not suitable, it would have to be a street race in Cape Town. This proposal was however rejected by City of Cape Town’s Directorate of Tourism, Events, and Marketing in 2013, due to the cost.

*   Roger Jones, owner of Michelin star restaurant Harrow at Little Bedwyn in the UK, has just returned from a trip to our country. Continue reading →

Franschhoek Uncorked set to get the corks popping this weekend!

Franschhoek Uncorked‘Franschhoek Uncorked‘ has taken some time to take off, having been plagued by poor weather in the initial years.  It has become a fun event on the Franschhoek events calendar, and now the seventh annual event attracts wine lovers to the village come rain or shine.  This coming weekend (27 and 28 September)  21 wine estates will be attracting visitors to their farms, to show them how unique each of them is.

Each wine estate will offer tastings of their wines, included in the R120 fee for the weekend, foods for sale, some with art exhibitions, as well as musical entertainment, a unique offering by each farm.

The following wine farms will be showcased:

*   Babylonstoren: wine and olive tastings, cellar tours, and a 3-course Pizza meal (R200)

*   Noble Hill: Mexican foods, Hitichino Japanese craft beer, and wine tasting

*   Rupert & Rothschild:  tasting of Rupert & Rothschild wines as well as of Rothschild wines.  Foods offered include French Continue reading →

WhaleTales Tourism, Food, and Wine news headlines: 18 June

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and news headlines

*   ‘People love our country and continue to visit South Africa‘, said President Jacob Zuma in his State of the Nation Address at the opening of Parliament last night. He set our country’s tourism target at 15 million visitors per year by 2017, with a revenue of R125 billion generated.

*   TripAdvisor is testing amongst a sample of American hotels a new Question and Answer service on listed property pages, so that guests can request further information before they book, including  for example questions such as the cost of a mini-bar, availability of tickets to attractions at reception, opening times of the pool, etc.   Other travelers and the property can answer the questions. Hotels in the same town are not allowed to answer about another hotel in the discussion forums.

*   Much admired and liked Eat Out Top 10 Chef Jackie Cameron from Hartford House is leaving the KwaZulu-Natal hotel at the end of July, to open Jackie Cameron’s School of Food and Wine in Hilton in January next year. Continue reading →

Christiaan Groenewald of New Cape Wines Diners Club Winemaker of the Year 2013!

Diners Club Christiaan Groenewald Whale Cottage PortfolioLa Residence pulled out all the stops in hosting the Diners Club Winemaker of the Year 2013 Awards last night, seating and serving 150 guests in its massive entrance hall, lounge and dining room, demonstrating why it was recently voted joint Best Hotel in the world by Conde Nast Traveler.  The Awards evening was described as ‘a gathering of wine aristocracy’, and the ‘Oscars of the Wine Awards’! The Diners Club Winemaker of the Year Award is the only award given to an individual, and is even more special in that it is received in the presence of an audience of experts and peers.

Gareth Cliff of 5FM was a good MC, admitting his ignorance as a wine drinker, and doing a brilliant Julius Malema impersonation based on wines (with Ed Morton and Nick Solomon of La Residence in the photograph below).  As the venue was so large, video screens were set up throughout the venue, allowing each table to see  a screen close by.  A Twitter Feed ran on the screen, Cliff being a heavy Tweeter, which will have pleased his hosts at Diners Club Ed, Gareth Cliff Nick Whale Cottage PortfolioLa Residence and Diners Club, with his 571343 Twitter Followers.  Diners Club Winemaker of the Year 2013 Finalist Johan Jordaan from Spier was an informative and fun table neighbour, as was Franschhoek Tatler editor Siegfried Schäfer and  Helgard van Schalkwyk from Lynx Wines.  Johan was an excellent ‘lighting assistant’, in lighting my plates with his phone to photograph the food! 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 Uncorked Festival pops the corks on 20 wine estates

For the third year running, twenty of Franschhoek’s wine farmers are inviting wine and food lovers to visit their wine estates this coming Saturday and Sunday (4 and 5 September), to taste their new vintages, to eat specialities from the Gourmet capital of South Africa, and to enjoy French-style activities over a weekend of food, fun and wine.

Tickets for Franschhoek Uncorked cost R80 each, and can be bought at Computicket, or at any participating wine estate.  The full programme offered by the 20 wine estates is as follows:

*   Vrede & Lust will have a cigar lounge, Aston Martins will be on display, chocolate can be tasted and diamonds will sparkle

*   Plaisir de Merle will serve more of their lovely pancakes, offer live music, and for the first time offer bread made from flour ground in a historic water mill on the wine estate.

*   Allee Bleue will offer live jazz, and a tasting of their new Brut Rose’.  Smoked salmon croissants, Flammkuchen, Chicken Tandoori wraps, and Shrimp Guacamole wraps will be available for sale.

*   Solms-Delta will offer “Kaapse” music, food, and wine.

*   L’Ormarins has the Franschhoek Motor Museum on its property, will make its Antonij Rupert Protea and Terra del Capo wines available for tasting, boules can be played, and gourmet sandwiches can be bought

*   Graham Beck will offer its Methode Cap Classique bubblies as well as wines to taste, and oysters, cheese and charcuterie platters will be available to eat.  Winemakers Pieter Ferreira and Erika Obermeyer will host masterclasses at R 75 a head, on Saturday and Sunday, at 10h00 and 14h00

*   Lynx Wines will have a Spanish Fiesta theme again, and live Spanish music will be played.  Tapas served include serrano ham and calamari

*   Topiary Wines will release their Rose 2009 and their Cabernet Sauvignon 2007. Visitors can blend their own wines. Live music is offered.

*   La Chataigne offers boules and live entertainment

*   Moreson offers live music, and a food market

*   Maison is the newest Franschhoek wine estate, and belongs to Chris Weylandt of Weylandt’s, and is now also a winemaker.   Food, jazz and wines will be offered.

*   La Motte’s new and Franschhoek’s latest restaurant Pierneef a La Motte offers Cape Winelands cuisine, a Farm Shop sells wines, gifts and farm-baked bread.   The new La Motte Art Gallery, one of the rooms dedicated to the priceless paintings by Pierneef, has opened, and a classical guitar recital will be hosted on Saturday evening.

*   Glenwood will host a Boules Trophy, and is pairing its wines with gourmet food prepared by Camil and Ingrid Haas, previously of Bouillabaisse and Camil’s, serving Bouillabaisse, Chicken Curry and Crepe Suzette.

*   Rickety Bridge offers tapas too, and its Top 10 Shirazes.  Live music, boules, as well as farm rides in their Dodge truck are also available.

*   Grande Provence offers live music, five vintages will be paired with five dishes, a Chef’s Table is offered, and the Grande Provence Pinot Noir will be launched.  Cheese and charcuterie boards will be available.

*   Franschhoek Cellars offer cheese and wine tastings, as well as cheese lunches

*   Dieu Donne offers live music, Vineyard platters, “wine-infused casual food”, and micro-beer on tap

*   Cabriere offers a wine tour and tasting, with a Sabrage, at 11h00 on Saturday and Sunday

*  La Petite Ferme offers wine tours, and salmon and wine pairing at R120.

*   Boekenhoutskloof will launch The Chocolate Block 2009, a band will provide the “gees” and Reuben Riffel will offer his famous Reuben’s Barbeque Experience.

Further details can be obtained from the Franschhoek Tourism Bureau, Tel (021) 876-3603.

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

Franschhoek has an Affair, pairing 14 wines and restaurants

This coming weekend, Franschhoek will be showcasing some of the best of its restaurants and wines, as well as food and wine related activities, under the banner of “Franschhoek Affair”.

The 14 restaurant and wine pairings on offer are the following, and the winemaker and chef “will be presenting their crafts to their guests”:

*   Allora Restaurant and Lynx Wines offer a 3-course meal for R 250. 25 and 26 June.  Tel 021 876-4375

*   Bread & Wine restaurant and Moreson Wines offer a 4-course meal for R 660.  Ten persons only. 26 June. Tel 021 876-4004

*   Cafe Bon Bon and La Bri Wines offer a 3-course meal, R650. 25 and 26 June.  tel 083 501 0878

*   Dieu Donne Restaurant and Dieu Donne Wines offer a 3-course lunch at R 275 (25 and 26 June) and a 5-course dinner (26 June).  Tel 021 876-3384

*   Dutch East and Antonij Rupert Wines offer a 3-course meal and one glass of Protea wine at R 165. 26 and 27 June.  Tel 021 876-3548

*   Fyndraai restaurant and Solms-Delta Wines offer 3 courses for R 190.  25 and 27 June. Tel 021 874-3937

*   Haute Cabriere restaurant and Cabriere Wines offer a 5-course dinner at R 480.  25 June. Tel 021 876-3688

*   The Tasting Room restaurant offers a 5-course dinner paired with “local wines” for R800. 25 June.  Tel 021 876-2151

*   Mange Tout restaurant and Mont Rochelle Wines offer a 4 course meal at R 480. 25 June dinner, 26 and 27 June lunch and dinner.  Tel 021 876-2770

*   Mon Plaisir restaurant and Chamonix Wines offer a 5-course dinner at R 550. 25 June. Tel 021 876-2393

*   Restaurant at Grande Provence and Grande Provence Wines offer a 4-course meal for R 320.  Maximum 20 guests. 25 and 26 June.   Tel 021 876-8600

*   Reubens restaurant and Graham Beck Wines offer a 5-course lunch for R 550. Maximum 24 guests.  27 June.  Tel 021 876-3772

*   Rickety Bridge restaurant and Rickety Bridge Wines offer 8 tasting courses for R 335.  25 June. Tel 021 876-2129

*   Salmon Bar and Franschhoek Pass Winery offer a 4 course salmon and bubbly pairing. 25 June lunch.  Tel 021 876-4591

Other food and wine related activities over the Franschhoek Affair weekend are the following:

*  Pasta making course at Allora restaurant, R 280, 25 and 26 June, 15h00

*   Huguenot Fine Chocolates shop tour and tasting, R 25, 25, 26 and 27 June, at 11h00, 12h00, 14h00 and 15h00

*   Sushi course at Allee Bleue, R 300, 26 and 27 June at 15h00

*   Breadmaking course at Bread & Wine, R 770, 26 June, 9h30

*   Cooking Class at Le Quartier Francais, R 895, 26 June 10h00 – 15h00

*   Chocolate Art course at Dieu Donne, 26 June at 9h30, and Sugar Art course 27 June at 16h00, R 500 each course

*   Traditional Cooking Tour (outdoors walking tour) at Solms-Delta, R 100, 26 and 27 June

*   Wine Tasting Tour – Cap Classique Tasting Tour (R395 includes R 120 lunch voucher, 26 June at 10h00), White Wine Tasting Tour (R495 includes R 120 lunch voucher, 27 June at 10h00) and Red Wine Tasting Tours (R395, 27 June at 15h00).

Further details about the “Franschhoek Affair” can be obtained from www.franschhoek.org.za or call the Franschhoek Tourism Bureau at tel 021 876-2861.

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

Franschhoek winemakers resilient to credit crunch

The Franschhoek Month asked the Vignerons of Franschhoek what effect the recession is having on their wine sales.

The majority of the estates that replied stated that their wine sales have increased relative to the same period a year ago.

Dieter Sellmeyer of Lynx Wines writes as follows: Non-cellar door wine sales locally come mainly from restaurants and from mail campaigns and neither of these have suffered – in fact restaurant business is up, which may partly have to do with the evolution of the brand. We have never done a lot through retail outlets as the competition there is massive and yes, cut-throat.”

Haute Espoir, Rickety Bridge Winery, La Motte, Stony Brook Vineyards, Graham Beck Wines and Vrede & Lust also all report increased wine sales, and it would not appear that the visitors to the Franschhoek wine estates are trading down in their wine purchases, as was claimed in a recent article in the Cape Times.Dana Buys from Vrede & Lust describes how he has enhanced wine sales at his estate: Our sales are significantly up over last year. I think it is due to our wines improving and a strong focus on direct wine sales. Direct sales are important with more customers buying to drink at home versus while eating out. Our wines are priced well relative to the quality. We have significantly upgraded our cellar door team and they have done a great job building the new wine club and getting our European eStore sales humming”

Graham Beck Wines’ Etienne Heyns attributes their sales success to his cellar door staff: “Our staff makes a point of providing our visitors with extra hospitality and superb attention during such times when relatively fewer visits occur. In addition, we reward our visitors with an array of extra special offers on our wines. We value their custom and want them to leave our estate with an indelible impression – and a boot full of superb wines.” Werner Els of La Petite Ferme attributes their sales’ success to focusing on greater distribution in South Africa’s major cities.Vrede & Lust says that there are fewer tourists around this season. “To counteract the tough economy we work on ensuring that our pricing is correct for the climate and we understand that better cash-flow is often more important than higher profit margins – i.e. we are realistic about the laws of supply and demand! Most of all, we work hard to ensure that the customers who visit the farm have a fantastic experience here” says Dana Buys. Rickety Bridge Winery says that it offers a good quality product. “We put a lot of emphasis on giving guests an experience though good service and a good quality “product” in both our restaurant and with our wines. I believe we offer something for everybody – whether they are serious connoisseurs or just looking for a relaxing day in the winelands” says Jackie Rabe.When visitors come to the farm we sell them an experience – wine sales follow automatically and price hardly comes into it. Being small only I, as passionate owner/winemaker, or my equally passionate Assistant Winemaker, do the cellar tours and wine tasting” says Sellmeyer. “We have a few very loyal small tour operators. Their clientele is usually upmarket and interested in wine and more often than not they have wine sent back home. The tour operators know we offer cellar tours and tastings in German, and for that sector this is an immediate winner”.Haute Espoir exports its wines to Germany, New Zealand, Ireland, Sweden, Malaysia, Belgium and Singapore; Lynx sells to Denmark, Holland, Germany and the USA, but the USA sales “have almost vanished. Europe, on the other hand, has soaked up what the US didn’t take. Our Danish distributor reports the best season ever, and our wines are right up there – the result of joint marketing efforts with our distributor. Holland and Germany are not very different. In addition we have very recently received two significant orders from UK and Switzerland for the first time. With a bit of nurturing these will develop into repeat business.”

Rickety Bridge exports to the UK and the USA; Vrede & Lust exports to Canada and Europe; Stony Brook focuses its exports on Europe; La Petite Ferme exports to the UK, Netherlands, Germany, Ireland and America; Graham Beck sells its products in 40 countries, but Sweden and the USA are its two most important foreign markets; and La Motte exports to Europe, Africa and the Far East.

The visitor profile of visitors to the wine estates appears to be varied. Graham Beck Wines estimates that more of their visitors are foreigners than South Africans, in line with 65 % of its wine production being exported. La Petite Ferme receives mainly European visitors, Vrede & Lust is visited by locals, British visitors and Americans; Rickety Bridge Winery says 40 % of its visitors are South African, and the balance are from the UK, USA and France; Lynx sells to visitors from the UK, Germany, USA, Sweden and Holland, as well as South Africans from Gauteng. Some wineries appeal more to older wine lovers, others to younger visitors. “Swallows” are an important part of the winetasting mix at La Motte, says Werner Briederhann, probably due to their exposure to the wines at the monthly La Motte concerts.

When asked how the Vignerons can assist in attracting tourists to Franschhoek, Haute Espoir’s Rob Armstrong said :’“Strive to enhance the experience visitors to our valley have in every aspect, to make this the most attractive destination in South Africa.” Jacky of Rickety Bridge Winery suggested that: “I think it is important to create as much a positive feeling about what you do, get the name out there, get people talking about what you have to offer, make sure your staff are positive and send that message through to customers. Don’t ride on your laurels and expect business to come to you, do as much as you can to drive business to you. Evaluate what you offer and see whether you are really offering guests the best you can, in terms of price, quality and service. If not, how can you expect people to come back. I think in these tough times consumers become sharper, will shop around for good value and will not support places that are taking advantage. I also think that business will have to work harder and smarter to achieve the same business they did in more liquid times.”

Buys says that ‘great customer experience and value’ are key. “We compete with many other destinations in South Africa and elsewhere, and the overall value proposition must be very competitive.”

“We just try to do great value for money wines and give friendly, personal attention to visitors who come to the farm.  We believe in word of mouth advertising and our customers have been very loyal, even when times are tough” says Stony Brook Vineyards. For Els of La Petite Ferme it’s a change of focus to the South African market, while Graham Beck Wines’ Heyns says its “service, service, service!”

Sellmeyer is ‘proudly-Franschhoek’, and makes an important point in this regard: The best way is to send out the message of what a great place Franschhoek is, and all that it has to offer. To do this the most important thing is to remain upbeat, particularly in communications to the media and in newsletters. Visitors don’t like to go to a place that is depressed and down. But the Vignerons won’t be able to attract visitors on their own – they’re only one element of the Franschhoek experience. It’s a joint effort between all players, and just like I only recommend restaurants in the Valley, I would expect the converse to be the case. When I hear about guesthouses only recommending wineries on the other side of the mountain I ask myself ‘why?’- it’s like shooting yourself in the foot. It’s great if tourists go back and tell friends how much the Cape Winelands have to offer, but it would be better still if they told their friends how much Franschhoek has to offer.”

This article was written by Chris von Ulmenstein and was first published in the July 2009 issue of The Franschhoek Month.

Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com