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South Africa drew us in as a destination the way it does most visitors. Pictures of beautiful Cape Town, promises of mighty ocean panoramas, quaint towns and excellent hospitality and best of all a new wine destination.
We get excited when a destination has a good wine region in its boundaries. That’s because often the right ingredients for good wine to grow usually have a winning combination of sunshine and dramatic terrain.
Our visit to the Western Cape region of South Africa began in Cape town and stretched all the way to the garden city of Knysna. We crossed almost the entire state and beheld views unlike anything else on earth, but the jewel in the crown for us came in Franschhoek. It reminds us a lot of a smaller scale Napa, except more geographically dramatic.
The town and vineyards are nestled in a valley that is hemmed in on all sides by rocky cliffs. There are loads of places to rent for a stay, a wine train, daily tastings at most facilities and restaurants in every direction. The cost comes much more reasonably than other major wine destinations and that depends on the time of year as well.
Out of season some restaurants can be closed but the wineries are open and you can get right up close and personal with the vines and those who cultivate them, we even got a lift back into town from a vintner after trekking out to explore a more remote location.
So what started out as a journey to embrace and savor the dominant pilotage grape became a discovery of a lovely town whose history is founded on persecuted immigrants, hard work cultivating rugged terrain and a modern industry that still has roots in small production and local initiatives. Franschhoek is a magical place and as much as we praise it, you have to feel it for yourself to see all that is world imbibing!