Please refer to 24 Wineland picnic spots for summer for the most up-to-date listing for 2013.
One of my most memorable alfresco dining experiences involved a chunk of cheddar, a packet of Provitas, a bottle of Tassies and a young Swedish yacht designer whom I found quite delicious at the time (my taste in wine – and men – has become more sophisticated since then). Suffice to say that a good picnic doesn’t require much more than a patch of grass, a shady tree and a lovely view – and these are not hard to find in the winelands.
Many wine farms invite you to bring your own basket (so you don’t have to trespass, as I have to confess was the case with my errant Swede) and you’ll find some suggestions on page 65. Increasingly, however, you can pre-order a delicious gourmet picnic – complete with ‘proper’ crockery, cutlery, condiments and coffee to finish – at one of the many wineries that have realised there’s hardly a better way to showcase their wines.
Some picnic spots have been going strong for several years – in Constantia, Buitenverwachting (tel 021 794 1012) was among the first to take picnicking to a new level of sophistication at tables beneath oak trees around the beautiful gardens. The savoury platter is laden with things like snoek pâté, cold meats, meatballs and quiche along with salads and cheeses, while the sweet platter includes fruit kebabs, koeksisters and chocolate brandy truffles, all followed by tea or coffee (R120pp).
Le Pique Nique
At the gateway to the Franschhoek valley, Le Pique Nique at Boschendal (tel 021 870 4272) remains an old favourite, where wicker baskets packed with freshly baked baguettes, snoek pâté and red pepper humus, cold meats, cheeses, coronation chicken and salads can be unpacked onto tables beneath large umbrellas and fragrant pine trees, followed by dessert and filter coffee served at the gazebo (Le Pavillion), one of Boschendal’s famous landmarks and also the name of its most picnic-friendly wine range (R150pp). There’s a vegetarian option too, while children’s fare includes a ham and cheese roll, chicken kebab, fresh fruit, chips, yoghurt, an iced fruit lolly and Jelly Tots (R59).
If you love the dramatic Simonsberg setting but want to try something new, nearby Allée Bleue (tel 021 874 1021) also offers an elegant take on country dining, from the starched white drapery to the ice bucket cradling a bottle of wine or two. The menu includes pâtés (snoek and chicken liver for meat-eaters; peach salsa and humus for vegetarians), paprika cream cheese, cold meats (or crumbed aubergine) served with rémoulade and pickles, ciabatta with smoked chicken and mayonnaise (or brie and tomatoes), rocket salad with sundried tomatoes, olives and parmesan, prawn (or avocado) cocktail, Cape cheeses with preserves and biscuits, and vanilla cheesecake with summer fruits (R145pp). Children can play safely, confined by a Cape Dutch garden wall, pausing to snack on finger sandwiches, sausage rolls, mini meatballs, yoghurt, sweets and fruit juice (R80).
In Franschhoek proper, Rickety Bridge (tel 021 876 2129) offers a gourmet picnic at R155pp, and has recently introduced a picnic and wine pairing, where three tasting-size glasses of wines can be sampled against three elements from the basket – such as garden-fresh crudités with Springbok carpaccio, chicken and peppadew kebabs or salmon roulade (R185 to R195 depending on choice of wine flight).
But Mont Rochelle (tel 021 876 2770) really ups the ante with its three sumptuous picnic options to be enjoyed next to the dam (blankets provided) or at tables alongside a boulles court in the garden. The country basket contains cheeses, condiments and Italian cold cuts; sliced smoked Franschhoek trout with lemon and capers; smoked chicken and cottage cheese wraps; and flourless chocolate cake with strawberries (R145pp; R85 for children who also get crisps, chocolate and juice thrown in). You can upgrade to a gourmet basket (most of the above plus some seafood and marinated grilled Provençal vegetables, followed by panna cotta and Champagnesoaked seasonal fruits at R185pp), while the deluxe basket includes tiger prawns with cocktail sauce; oysters with lemon and Tabasco; herb-grilled chicken; and a mouth-watering selection of petit fours and chocolates (R225pp).
Solms Delta, Franschhoek
Fyndraai restaurant offers picnic baskets for R135pp, including basil pesto marinated farm vegetables with chive humus; sage and boegoe flavoured feta cheese; olives, baby leaves and almonds; spicy sliced biltong; fried bacon, onion and potato mayo salad with vinaigrette and rocket leaves; local cheese with homemade blatjang, crackers and kraakbrood; chicken tandoori with cucumber and honey mustard yoghurt; lamb kofta with mint creamed cheese; smoked Franschhoek trout and smoked snoek pâté with caper berries and fresh lemon; home baked Cape breads served with butter, cured meats and condiments; fresh seasonal fruit salad with citrus aromas; apple tart with fresh cream and apple syrup; a bottle of Solms-Delta Lekkerwijn (per couple) and a bottle of Solms-Delta Vogelvrij spring water. A personal guide will carry your basket and blanket and assist in selecting a quiet spot on the forested banks of the Dwars River or overlooking the private Solms lake. Tel 021 874 3937 (ext 115). www.solms-delta.co.za.
You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to picnicking in Stellenbosch. At Spier (tel 021 809 1153) you can sit around the lake or meander down the banks of the Eerste River with your deli picnic box containing a baguette, Moroccan hummus, snoek pâté (or feta pâté for vegetarians), cold meats and a smoked chicken and peppadew salad (or a veggie quiche and cream cheese, avocado and peppadew wrap), basil mayo potato salad, chunky Greek salad, cheese and biscuits with pineapple preserve and a brownie (R120pp). For children there’s plenty of space to run around, and a box containing ham, cheese and a roll, a chicken drumstick, crisps and a brownie (R45).
For Cape specialities with the occasional German touch, try the ‘picnic barrel platters’ at Blaauwklippen (tel 021 880 8222). In addition to pâtés and cheeses, the standard option includes biltong and droëwors, wienerwurst and rare roast beef, sundried tomato quiche, macadamia-nut bobotie samoosa and baked lemon tart (R140pp or R175pp including a bottle of Landau Red, White or Rosé and a bottle of Aqua- Bella water per two guests). The ‘exclusive’ option also includes delicacies like potted shrimps, fried asparagus and a Thai chicken and vegetable wrap (R170pp or R220pp with wine and water).
At Zorgvliet (tel 082 927 0207), you can create your own basket at the deli, or order the ‘Banhoek basket’ comprising sandwich ham and roast beef, blue cheese and cheddar with figs, olives and biscuits, salads, a chicken mayonnaise-fi lled baguette and something sweet (R150pp including water and wine). A special occasion? Upgrade to the Silver Myn basket where the cold meats include parma ham, salami, pancetta and smoked chicken, and the cheeses are blue cheese, camembert and brie (R225 including water and wine). For children there’s a jungle gym and a choice of two R50 picnics, one with a cheddar and ham roll and muffin, the other with a chicken burger and brownie (plus sweets, chips and a ‘squirrel’s beverage’).
Long known for its unpretentious hospitality, Hartenberg (tel 021 865 2541) now offers a country picnic hamper packed to the brim with cheeses, snoek pâté, cold meats and chicken, a homemade country terrine, roasted vegetables, crudités, pickles, seasonal fruit and dessert (R120pp including coffee… and wine!). Enjoy it on the lawns, or take it with you along the estate’s popular wetland walk.
For even more action, head to Warwick – now the first estate in Stellenbosch to open 365 days of the year (tel 021 884 3144). Here picnicking reaches new heights – literally, if you go on a ‘Big 5 Wine Safari’ (a guided 4×4 tour through the vineyards for R50pp, free for children under 12).
You can sit on ‘The Lawns’ spilling out onto the dam, where you can relax under umbrellas on scatter cushions and bean bags while being served by your own picnic butler, in ‘The Forest Courtyard’ which is a gravelled area with tables and chairs adjacent to the water feature and a jungle gym, or in ‘The Pods’, designer-rustic wooden shelters flanking the dam. Served in ‘zero-carbon-footprint’ packaging, acclaimed chef Bruce Robertson’s menus change regularly but the promise is “to satisfy the most discerning palate and most sophisticated gourmand” (R299 for two, R49 for the kiddies’ picnic).
Hemitage restaurant offers a picnic (R130pp) comprising homemade bread, chicken liver paté, spinach and feta quiche, Greek salad, crudités, biltong & droëwors, fish goujons served with sweet chilli sauce, chicken and pineapple kebabs, rare roast beef served with a spicy mustard sauce, cheese and biscuits, chocolate brownies, fresh fruit salad and fruit juice. On Sunday afternoons you can also enjoy live music/theatre in the Plaasteater. Tel 021 903 5034, www.hazendal.co.za
Morgenhof Estate, Stellenbosch
Tailor-make your own picnic from menu items including ciabatta (R9), hummus (R20), asparagus &caper mayonnaise (R30), olives & feta (R30), pickled peppers (R30), chicken liver parfait( R25), Thai chicken pate (R30), red onion and gorgonzola cream cheese (R25), radish & potato salad (R25), garden salad (R25), charcuterie (R50), smoked salmon, rocket & horseradish hollandaise (R50), lemon & pepper roasted chicken breast (R40), rare roast beef fillet & mustard aioli (R50), vanilla cupcake (R8), strawberries & cream (R30) and a cheese selection (R35). Bring your own blanket and sit anywhere on the beautiful lawns. Tel 021 889 2024, www.morgenhof.co.za.
Basket (R140 for two adults sharing) contains two French loaves, chicken liver pate, cream cheese and chives pate, a variety of matured and flavoured cheddars, a garden salad, something sweet and a bottle of wine (Remhoogte Chenin Blanc or Aigle Noir Red Blend). Enjoy while watching zebra, wildebeest and springbok graze metres away against a breathtaking Simonsberg, Jonkershoek, Stellenbosch and Helderberg mountain backdrop. Tel 021 889 5005, www.remhoogte.co.za.
Now also home to a lion park, this estate has huge gardens dotted with gazebos and benches or there are many shady spots for spreading your own picnic blanket. Hudson’s restaurant offers Deluxe Picnic Baskets containing a selection of cold meats and salads, fresh bread, a platter of cheeses, biscuits and preserves, fresh Fruit and homemade muffins (R260 for two people). Bunny Buckets for small children include a hot dog, cheese, crisps, juice and sweeties (R38 per child). Tel 021 881 3590, www.visithudsons.co.za, www.vredenheim.co.za.
On tree-shaded lawns sloping down to the lake, enjoy freshly baked French loaf with snoek pate & chicken liver pate, rare roast beef sirloin with homemade mustard, grilled chicken fillet with a sweet chilli sauce, garden greens & baby tomatoes, potato salad, homemade spinach & feta quiche, selection of cheeses, biscuits & preserves, mini milk tart, koeksister and fresh fruit (R260 per basket for two). The Kids Basket includes a chicken drumstick & cheese roll, chips, lollipop and fruit juice (R55 per child). You can also pre-book a braai basket consisting of garlic bread, Greek salad, potato, chive & bacon salad, chicken thigh, lamb chop & boerewors, selections of cheeses, biscuits & preserves, mini milk tart, koeksister and fresh fruit (R290 for two, minimum two baskets to be ordered, wood, firelighters and grid provided). Tel 021 903 5123, www.zevenwacht.co.za.
There’s still something extra special about Vergelegen (tel 021 847 1346), where picnics prepared in the Lady Phillips Restaurant are served in the ancient camphorwood forest, planted circa 1700. The setting and silver service transport you to a bygone era, with hors d’oeuvres, the main course and dessert served in sequence on handcrafted pottery platters.
This year’s menu had not been finalised at the time of going to press, but the price will be R150pp – and while Vergelegen might not seem the most kiddieorientated spot (it is strictly verboten to pick flowers or climb the giant camphor trees – and rightly so), it has recently introduced a treasure hunt (R75 for children aged three to 10).
Most picnics are weather permitting and need to be booked between 24 hours and two days in advance. Unless otherwise stated, prices exclude entrance fees where relevant, beverages and gratuities. BYO is generally not permitted – the whole point of a winelands picnic, after all, is to enjoy the wine grown in the vineyards around you. Heaven!
Seidelberg Wine Estate, Paarl
Beneath an umbrella or oak tree, enjoy one of the Paarl winelands best views while tucking into herb potato salad, smoked salmon, rocket and crème fraiche, Greek salad, chicken liver pate, hummus, smoked salmon quiche, vegetarian quiche, freshly baked baguette, Parma ham, Mortadella and salami, Camembert and Dalewood Fromage, a chocolate brownie and cupcake, a bottle of still or sparkling water and either a bottle of De Leuwen Jagt Leuwenblanc (Chenin Blanc) or De Leuwen Jagt Leuwenrood (Merlot/Cab Franc blend). R240 per basket for two. Tel 021 863 5217, www.seidelberg.co.za.
Rhebokskloof Wine Estate, Paarl
Breathtaking views and gardens make this a popular picnic spot, with baskets (R250 for two people) including freshly baked ciabatta with gypsy ham, rocket, parmesan cheese and a sweet melon and African rock chilli salsa; Franschhoek smoked salmon trout and cream cheese; freshly baked spinach and feta quiche topped with olive tapenade; homemade Cajun rubbed chicken schnitzel served with African rock chilli salsa; a platter of five different local cheeses with biscuits; pasta salad with smoked chicken, marinated peppers, sun-dried tomatoes and basil dressing; mini pecan nut tarts with a honey and rose cream; and double coated chocolate brownies. Tel 021 869 8606, www.rhebokskloof.co.za.
Breedekloof and Robertson
In the picturesque Rawsonville area at the foot of the Badsberg mountain, picnics are offered in conjunction with Jason’s Hill restaurant during the harvest (from January until the first week of March). They include a selection of cheese (Camembert, cheddar, blue cheese), smoked chicken paté, ciabatta, cold meats (ham & beef), an apple, yoghurt and a bottle of wine (Sauvignon Blanc, Rosé or Merlot). Blanket and glasses provided. R90pp. Tel 023 344-3021, www.badsberg.co.za.
Ashton Wine Cellar, Robertson
Sit on the stoep or soft green grass (blankets provided) and tuck into ciabatta, a variety of cheeses, olives, figs, carpaccio, chocolate for dessert, and a bottle of wine or grape juice (R120 for two adults sharing). Jungle gym for kids and giant chessboard for intellectuals! Tel 023 615 1135, www.ashtonkelder.co.za.
Lethabo Estate in Muldersdrift (tel 082 654 1690) offers a ‘romantic picnic’ beneath umbrellas on the banks of the Crocodile River (R400pp), a ‘luxury picnic’ in an enclosed thatch gazebo with a double-bed flop spot (R700pp including sparkling wine and water), and a ‘boudoir picnic’ in a private lovers’ retreat tucked into the river bank, where a petalstrewn carpet leads to a bed and a table set with crystal, antique silver and Spode (R1 325pp including gourmet food, chilled Cap Classique and a cooler box of drinks).
Horizons Gourmet Picnics (tel 082 895 1042) is located about . Five minutes from Nottingham Road, boasting views of Giant’s Castle, Mooi River and the rolling hills of the Midlands. Seating is on rugs at low, Japanese-style tables or on chairs at café-style tables, and the seven-course picnic includes fresh baguettes and breadsticks with homemade treats that reflect the season at a cost of R120pp, R55 for children (including a bug jar for collecting insects and plants from the garden).
* Note: picnics are often only available during the summer months and menus and prices are subject to change. Enquire about vegetarian options. Booking is essential.
WHAT TO DRINK
Whatever you choose to drink outdoors on a warm, sunny day should be refreshing – the citrus fruit and minerality of a crisp, acidic Sauvignon Blanc or an unwooded Chenin Blanc; the fresh melon and strawberry flavours of a dry but fruity Rosé; the relative lightness of a Pinot Noir (note that even red wine should be served chilled); the effervescence of a Méthode Cap Classique (there’s nothing like bubbles to raise a picnic to another level altogether).
Avoid oak (the only wood in your basket should be the cheeseboard and a few toothpicks) and don’t go for anything too complex: all subtlety will be lost in the fresh air and sunshine. But the wine also shouldn’t be inferior to anything you would normally drink at home…
Plenty of water and soft drinks.
BYO PICNIC TIPS
PICNIC SPOTS: Wine farms welcoming BYO picnics include Clos Malverne, Goede Hoop, Hathersage, Kaapzicht, Koopmanskloof, Mooiplaas, Stellenrust and Villiera in Stellenbosch; African Terroir, Landskroon, Le Joubert and Rose Garden Vineyards in Paarl; Schalk Burger & Sons in Wellington; Brandvlei and Mountain Oaks in Worcester; Rietvallei, Springfield and Vruchtbaar in Robertson; Lord’s near McGregor; Rijk’s Private Cellar and Tulbagh Wine Cellars in Tulbagh; Annex Kloof, Lammershoek, Pulpit Rock and Wedgewood in the Swartland; Groote Post and Ormonde in Darling; Iona and William Everson in Elgin; Birkenhead, Springfontein and Whalehaven near Hermanus; Raka, 17km from Stanford.
FOOD: Lots of different things to nibble on, preferably on the lighter side and served cold (so pack it all in a cooler box, along with some ice in which to plunge your bottles of wine later). Sandwiches are an obvious choice, but why not take some beautiful, fresh mozzarella, ripe vine tomatoes and some basil leaves and create a caprese salad (like the picnic pictured on this month’s cover of Wine).
EQUIPMENT: A sturdy wicker basket and/or cooler box, a couple of rugs, some cushions or fold-up chairs, an umbrella for shade.
UTENSILS: No need to pack a corkscrew if you’re on a wine farm – they’ll open your purchases for you (and screwcaps were surely invented for picnics?). No need to resort to plastic or pewter cups either, given that most wine glasses come in cardboard boxes with inserts, so can be transported pretty much anywhere. Plastic and paper or metal and glass, the level of sophistication is entirely up to you – just makes sure you’ve got the tools you need to eat whatever food you’ve prepared! And don’t forget the napkins/wipes and a rubbish bag for afterwards.
EXTRAS: Sunscreen, insect repellent, antibacterial gel, antihistamines…