The Western Cape Feature
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Franschhoek Wine Route
The drive out of Stellenbosch up the Helshoogte Pass is spectacular. In winter you'll more than likely find snow on the mountain peaks; in summer, once you top the pass you enter a verdant valley of fruit trees and ordered vineyards. Be sure to stop in at Hillcrest Berry Farm for delicious tea and scones. R310, Dennesig, 2091. 021/885-1629. www.hillcrestberries.co.za.
Then head to Boschendal, one of the oldest and most established estates in the country.
There are well more than 20 estates to choose from here, and there's something for everyone—from enormous farms covering hundreds of acres to smaller, boutique vineyards producing just a few hundred bottles each year. If you turn right on R45 from the R310, L'Ormarins is one of the first wine farms you'll come to (off the R45 through a tunnel of trees). It's a well-established estate that's undergone some interesting changes. Just outside town, La Motte is a sister farm to L'Ormarins. Closer to town the estates come thick and fast. Amid this flurry—Môreson (up the aptly named Happy Valley Road), Rickety Bridge, Agusta, Chamonix, and Dieu Donne—is Mont Rochelle, a relatively small producer of lovely wine and home to a boutique hotel. Outside town and up the Franschhoek Pass toward Villiersdorp, the fabulous Cabrière, at Haute Cabrière, is built into the mountain. La Petite Ferme is worth phoning ahead for (you can't just pop in).
If you turn left on the R45 from the R310, you'll find more outstanding wine farms, including Plaisir de Merle, which makes a distinctive cabernet and sauvignon blanc.
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