Living in San Francisco and only being 40 minutes away from Napa Valley and Sonoma, I have a soft spot for the winelands. I just find them to be so beautiful! Wineries always put me in a laid back, relaxing mood and when I’m on vacation, that is exactly the vibe I am going for! Plus, all the best restaurants are usually situated in the winelands!
Our first day in the Winelands we stopped at Spice Route Destination, a family friendly food and wine paradise! It consists of multiple restaurants and local food companies that show off what Paarl has to offer. It’s located 40 minutes outside of Cape Town and has a view that puts Napa to shame! I met with a very knowledgable sommelier who explained how and where grapes grow and how the weather in South Africa affects them. Wine tastings were super cheap, less than $7 for 5 tastings! My husband and I were in awe at how cheap it was!
We saw tons of families with little kids, and it was the most family friendly place in Paarl! They even had a little playground on site. The sun here is pretty harsh, so definitely make sure to slather sunscreen on yourself and little one!
We also hit up their beer and garden-style restaurant, Barley & Biltong, and had an amazing veggie mushroom burger and a berry milkshake! The ice cream here has a slight tang to it, almost frozen yogurt-like, which went perfectly with the berries! Seating is shaded and it’s situated next to a large grassy turf. We let Elara crawl around while we stuffed our faces as fast as possible (because parenting and baby). So good!
We also checked out their glass blowing studio and did a chocolate tasting (only R25! (~$2)). You can also do a craft beer tasting, have the kiddos do a little painting at their art studio, and have a South African meal at their other restaurant, Bertus Basson.
Also, on your way out, there is a small deli FULL of spices! The owner, Brenda, has the most amazing array of spices and pickles. If you’re a foodie, it’s definitely worth a peek!
That night we drove to Drie Gewels is a eco-lodge centered in a sustainable living village. It’s super budget friendly starting at $26 a night! The rooms are large and the beds are comfy! It’s not a luxury resort, but everything was clean and nice, but keep in mind that it’s a 100-year-old building. The walls are thin and the floors creak. They did offer a crib for Elara , which was nice!
There is a small alternative school right in front of the lodge so there are children playing out side all the time. At 7:45 am during school days you can even join the school children to sing and dance with them before they start their day! All the other guests staying there were graduate or post-graduate students working at the elementary school. We spent a fair amount of time at dinner talking about their research!
Both breakfast and dinner were served by the kitchen cook and prepared with vegetables from their community garden! The manager, Lydia, even took Elara for a walk to the garden to pick some veggies from the garden for dinner!
We moved on from Paarl to Franscchoek, where we stayed two nights at La Terra de Luc, a sweet guesthouse located near downtown Franscchoek that is a spring water bottling plant and vineyard. It was $82/night and I would say it’s a steal! There weren’t any cribs available, but Elara slept between us and it wasn’t an issue.
The place was super romantical with a gorgeous view of the mountains and a lawn right in front of the patio. Elara rolled around and ate grass every night we were there while we watched the sunset.
On our first day in Franscchoek, we headed over to La Motte Winery to do a hike to learn about the native flora and fauna. La Motte has guided hikes every Monday morning at 8 am that costs R50 (~$4). The hike is 2 km and took us about 2 hours to do.
It had some dodgy parts, so I don’t recommend it for people who have toddlers who want to walk on their own. Rhut felt pretty comfortable with Elara in our hiking backpack baby carrier, so we were okay, but there are some steep parts and a lot of boulders to climb around which can be a little scary if you’re not a confident climber/hiker. Also, a good pair of sneakers is necessary for the hike!
Our guide, was super informative and helped us navigate the trails easily and safely. We learned about the history of the Winelands and La Motte Winery as well as the native plants and animals. You can do the hike without a guide, but it is easy to get lost since there are a lot of offshoot trails.
We ended our hike with one of the best meals I’ve had in South Africa at Pierneef at La Motte. I think the bread box with two compound butters and olive tapenade and the watermelon salad were my favorite!
Elara even got in on the action and tried some bread and butter and some fruit! Each dish was beautifully plated and the flavors were so unique! I would definitely recommend having lunch or dinner here!
After lunch we headed over to Leopard’s Leap Winery, where we learned about business and wine. Leopard’s Leap makes wines that are made for easy drinking . They don’t necessarily need to be paired with a meal.
However, they came out with a Culinary collection were they highlight food and wine as a pairing. They also offer cooking courses and wine pairing dinners. Private wine tastings are R50 (~$4) and regular tasting of five wines is R25 (~$2) (SO CHEAP!) . For the kids, they have an outdoor playground and lots of space for babies to crawl around inside.
If you’re looking for a place that’s super duper kid/baby friendly that has it all in Fraanschoek– check out Babylonstoren. A friend of ours recommended this place to us saying that they had an amazing salad. Which if you know me, isn’t very exciting to me, but I was intrigued.
Turns out they have a massive farm where they grow their own veggies and fruit! The best part is you can roam around the well manicured farm and pick the fruits and veggies and try them right off the plants!
After my entire trip was over, I would say a trip to the Winelands is a must in South Africa! Every vineyard we visited with family friendly and enjoyable!
Disclaimer:Many thanks to La Motte winery, Leopard’s Leap Winery and Drie Gewels Eco-Lodge for hosting me and my family for the week, and as usual – all opinions are my own!