Education through the Winelands

2012-06-05 12:24
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Photos: Huguenot Fine Chocolates

Take a tour of this Franschhoek legend, makers of authentic Belgian chocolate.

A tour with DonValley and the Cape Winelands District Municipality is a memorable affair for me.

Being in the travel industry, it’s nice to take part in an educational that enhances one’s historical and geographical knowledge of the country - unveiling establishments in these different locations that would ordinarily go unnoticed. We also get to taste quite a bit of wine and food, thus striking the balance between work and fun.

In Franschhoek, The Roca Restaurant at Dieu Donne Vineyards is a grand sight to behold, equally as lofty in its appeal as the steep set of stairs at the entrance. Don't say I didn't warn you. The trek up is worth the view through the giant glass windows though, as the valley of Franschhoek unfolds before you. The food is immaculate. If you have an acquired taste for good food, coupled with stunning views – I’d highly recommend this spot.

Still in Franschhoek we move onto the Solms Delta Wine Estate, soaked in history as is to be expected in these parts of the Cape Winelands.  Snippets of the past are brought to life at the resident museum, which details the emergence of the lifeblood that is our country’s wine farms. The uncomfortable issue of slavery is dealt with in all its notoriety as the relationship between the first owners of Solms Delta Wine Estate and the then labourers is laid bare.

Next we’re taken on a brief tour of the small town that is Pniel.

We’re told about the small town life and close knit community. So much so, that moving in or out of the community becomes a town decision. But exactly how does a Winelands town become so tight, you might be asking?

Pniel started out as 19 hectares of land donated from the farm De Goede Hoop, established as a mission settlement for landless and homeless slaves. Today the main road is filled with quaint houses, some of them originally built for the freed slaves by a Sir Herbert Baker????.

The humps in the road are to ensure one takes the time to look around and appreciate the history. Whilst its name 'face of God', is taken from Genesis 34 verse 30. In 1843 a further 43 hectares were added to Pniel from the neighbouring farm, Papier Moulen, and the whole area was subdivided into plots and granted to emancipated slave settlers on a permanent tenure basis, to be inherited by their children. The close knit community makes a lot more sense once one gains further insight into the history of the place.

Our final location of the day's tour is the DeKraal Country Lodge and Garden Estate.

A fusion of a Stellenbosch guest house accommodation, bed & breakfast and luxury hotel, it combines the best of all - offering guests an unparalleled experience. This is the choice location to wind down our day. The natural scenery makes for the ultimate peaceful getaway. De Kraal lodge is actually something quite spectacular in its serenity. After the long day the tranquility is more than welcome. 

We take in the sounds of nature, enjoy the flow of conversation and stuff our faces with delectable treats comprised of cakes and sandwiches. We have tea, coffee and juice which welcome us " home". Surrounded by fauna and flora, at some point we get to explore the property and find ourselves walking across a suspension bridge at one point, this confirms that the place does indeed carry a secret majesty it is yet to reveal. I will need to go back and spend at least a weekend to fully understand the place’s essence. With an offer of two hectares of exotic garden landscape, five Cape Dutch villas, thirteen elegant rooms, several exquisite amenities, and an efficient local team to complete the DeKraal Country Lodge experience, how could I not?

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