Wine farms where you can picnic in the Western Cape
It’s a perfect day, the weather is screaming for a picnic. There are usually two scenarios, when the idea of a picnic emerges. One is: you expertly, and in no time at all, produce the hummus, tsatsiki, sushi, farm cheese and home-baked bread yourself and need that perfect venue to offset your production.
The second is: you’ve overstretched yourself during the past week and couldn’t produce a piece of buttered bread, let alone an entire spread yourself. Besides, you think you’re owed a gourmet picnic basket, including the blanket (some wine farms do provide the whole shebang), for the contribution you make to your family and greater mankind.
The good news is that each of these scenarios is easily met in the Western Cape. There is now a growing list of wine estates that realise that there is no better way to showcase their wines than having you come to their perfect idylls to experience a good nosh on the banks of whatever river there is winding through their farm, together with a bottle of one of their wines …
“Ready-made” Picnic Venues in the Western Cape
Here is a list of those where you can acquire your ready-made picnic and pay per head (most of the time), that is by no means exhaustive, so feel free to add your picnic spots in the comments.
Groot Constantia – you can pick up a wonderful picnic from Simon’s picnic kiosk, the restaurant based at the estate, and eat it, with the squirrels, under the oaks on the lawn infront of the restaurant. Pity Groot Constantia has done away with their ‘bring your own’ – you used to be able to eat your own spread in a field behind the estate.
Buitenverwachting – also on the Constantia Wine Route, by all accounts this is a wonderful feast of food. The good thing about these picnics is, not only do some of you manage to nab tables and chairs but there are also limited numbers, so you can enjoy the environment without it getting ridiculous.
Cape Point Vineyards – you need to book ahead, so be warned, as they get their delicious food in from the Food Barn, where Franck Dangeroux reigns supreme. But it will be worth it, as, under pine trees, at a series of tables and chairs and with a choice of sumptuous wines to choose from, you can relax as the children play in a sand pit under a jungle gym. There are even sea views.
Zewenwacht – the grounds are sublime, the Cape Dutch manor house truly stylish, and there are children’s play areas that will make family picnics that much easier.
Solms-Delta – ah, now this is doing it in style. With basket in hand, wander down to find a calm, quiet spot either on the banks of the Dwars River or in a verdant field overlooking Solms lake. And you’re welcome to peel off the layers and take a dip. (Website Link)
Allée Bleue – virtually next door to Solms-Delta, Allée Bleue offers what they call an ‘elegant’ take on a day in the country. Gorgeous historic oak trees offer shade under which bedecked tables and ice buckets await you. And there are vegetarian options.
Le Pique Nique (Boschendal) – I feel it only fair to warn you that these are extremely popular, and Boschendal is usually teeming over weekends. Not that this spoils the incredible picnic experience the estate provides. As its name indicates, this is a picnic with a French twist. So your colourful picnic basket is filled with things like fresh baguettes, pâtés and more.
Le Verger – A French Affaire of note on yet another beautiful wine farm, which is also the home of JC Le Roux, so if you’re after sparkling wine with your meal, then this is your spot.
Rickety Bridge – one of the only estates in the valley without a French name, Rickety Bridge has had its picnics described as ‘creative’ and ‘kaleidoscopic’, which may or may not entice you to enjoy this beautiful estate, where you can also stay overnight should you decide not to leave.
Mont Rochelle – picnics here are ‘good for the soul’ and the play is on simplicity and pleasure. You can stroll through vineyards to a dam, through a rose garden or simply sit under a weeping willow to unpack your basket of delights, and a bottle of chilled wine.
Spier – one of the most popular places to spend a Sunday, the picnic at Spier consists of selecting your own goodies from a deli and then making your way onto their lawns, or down to the banks of the Eerste River to enjoy it. In effect you build your own picnic. Wonderful venue, close to Cape Town, but everyone knows about it, so get there early.
Zorgvliet – worth going just for the gorgeous environment, there is a good selection of different picnics, you can choose the wine to accompany your meal, and there is a jungle gym for children.
Hartenberg – there is a wetland walking trail at Hartenberg, and you can collect your picnic in a backpack and make your way through the walk before hand, finding a wonderful spot for your picnic along the way. Birders will really enjoy this one.
Doolhof Wine Estate – a beautiful and incredibly scenic River Walk makes this picnic all the more enjoyable as there are several kilometres of pathway offering wonderful nooks for picnics, and the water, of course, always has a calming effect. There is also a labyrinth.
Vergelegen – gorgeous setting under the enormous and ancient trees. But book way in advance as this is an extremely popular venue.
A quick list of the freebies
Wine farms where you can take your own (but check with them beforehand):
Hathersage (go on market day – second and last Sunday of every month; then you can add to your own picnic some of the incredible food on offer)
Landskroon (stop off first at next door Fairview Estate, where you can pick up wonderful cheeses and breads)
Rose Garden Vineyards
Schalk Burger and Sons