Family-friendly wine farms
By Emma Odendaal, 8 October 2014
A decent glass of wine and a happy child needn’t be mutually exclusive. These are some of my favourite wine farms that are geared towards wine lovers with kids.
Cape Point Vineyards, Noordhoek
Wine fundis know Cape Point Vineyards for its superb Sauvignon Blanc Reserve and white blend called Isliedh but people also flock here to enjoy a picnic on the lawns around the dam, bringing the kids to clamber on the jungle gyms dotted along its banks.
Baskets cost R395 and serve two very generously with bobotie wraps, cured meats, caprese salad, snoek pate and other goodies. The kids’ basket (R65 each) includes a hotdog, salads, juice and fudge. Shade is still somewhat limited as the trees have yet to grow, so arrive early, grab a bottle of something cold and lather on the sunscreen.
There’s a lovely restaurant, too – the Tuesday burger night is a hit with families – but if you have kids, you really can’t beat the picnics. Book 24 hours in advance.
Creation, Hemel en Aarde Valley
A number of wine farms offer ‘tastings’ for the little ones, usually involving grape juice. But none I’ve seen are quite as good as the one at Creation. Kids between the ages of five and 12 can do the tasting that includes juices, flavoured milks and a selection of healthy nibbles (R75). It lasts 30 minutes, just long enough for mom and dad to do a wine and canapé tasting (R125) – there’s even a LCHF pairing for those on a banting diet!
Follow this with a wine and chocolate pairing and it’s more than enough for lunch, although wafts of springbok loin from the restaurant kitchen may convince you to stay longer. There’s a kids’ room stocked with toys, crayons and other goodies, or if your kids are slightly older the fynbos walks are a great way to get outdoors and learn about sustainability and biodiversity through the farm’s BWI initiatives.
You’re guaranteed an excellent meal at Laborie’s Harvest restaurant where the kitchen is under the watchful eye of Matthew Gordon. What used to be an unsightly parking lot in front of the restaurant is now a lawn and jungle gym that’s overlooked by a capacious verandah and umbrellas.
Meals are pricy (R140 for my favourite, the slow-roasted duck with potato gratin and berry jus, and R90 for a really good burger) but the quality is outstanding. The kids’ mac ‘n cheese is also one of the best I’ve ever seen. For younger kids, book a table near the jungle gym. Older kids (and their parents) will enjoy playing boulles on the lawns.
There’s new luxury self-catering accommodation at Jonkershuis if the drive home is too onerous. Just stock up on the Blanc de Blanc 2010 before you head off – at R100 per bottle, elegant and deliciously fruit-driven, in my opinion it’s one of the best value MCCs currently available.
A giant mastiff and overbearing Great Dane greet you at the door, but that’s all that’s intimidating about Middelvlei. This farm in Devon Valley is genuinely relaxed and down to earth – a great antidote to stuffy wine farms.
Go for the boerebraai. R155 gets you a picnic basket overflowing with snoek paté, potbrood and homemade preserves. Plates laden with braaied chops, sosaties and boerewors are brought to the table, followed by malva pudding and moerkoffie.
Kids get a special basket which includes a juice, marshmallows and stokbrood that they can cook themselves over the braai (R49,50). They’re free to run wild on the lawns and feed the farm animals – look out for the wallabies – and no-one will look twice at muddy feet.
Owners, the Momberg family, who have been farming here since 1919, produce a good unoaked Chardonnay, but the focus is on the reds, the Free-Run Pinotage and Shiraz being highlights – and the wines are served in the restaurant at cellar price.
Spice Route, Paarl
It seems everything Charles Back touches turns to gold. Spice Route, the latest venture from the owner of Fairview (the neighbouring Suid-Agter Paarl property) is no exception.
The biggest problem is what to do first. There’s craft brewery CBC that offers an ultra-slick beer tasting, Wilderer distillery for grappa, an art gallery, a glass-blowing studio, a biltong bar… Starting to get the idea?
The most popular activity is the guided chocolate tasting at DV Artisan Chocolate. If you have the time do tutored a wine pairing (R100 for 60 minutes), but for kids I prefer the shorter 25-minute chocolate tasting for R25.
Then head down to the wine tasting room to stretch the legs before settling down to unusual, although increasingly trendy, varietals – Viognier, Mourvedre, Grenache and intriguing red blends under the Terra de Bron label – with grapes sourced from Darling and the Swartland.
The Spice Route restaurant is the estate’s fine-dining option. A more family friendly choice is La Grapperia for pizzas and tapas. Surprisingly, there’s no jungle gym, but there’s ample space outside for the kids to run around. The menu’s extensive with something for even the fussiest family member. Start with a Richard Bosman meat platter and then tuck into pizzas. There a R30 markup on Spice Route and Fairview wines.
Other favourites: Blaauwklippen, Hermanuspietersfontein, Rhebokskloof, Warwick
- Emma Odendaal was deputy editor of Wine magazine and managing editor of Getaway and is now doing cool stuff at Fresh Living. She contributes to various food and travel publications.