What makes the drive from Hermanus into Franschoek so special is the end when the winding mountain road descends rapidly into the wine valley; from every angle there are breathtaking vistas of large, sloping grasslands that run up against wild, craggy mountainsides. In the middle of this sits, Franschhoek, a quaint little village, one single road connecting one side of the town to the other while on either side of the road are ubiquitous wine farms as far as the eyes can see.
Less famous than its sister wine town of Stellenbosch but just as popular and with a distinct French flavor, owning to its heritage and history as a landing spot for French settlers, Franschhoek carries itself with a certain panache that comes from having a very unique history embedded into a very high standard of wine offering.
In any wine country, the standard of your wine farm is directly reflected in the kind of experience one can expect. In our case, our expectations became abundantly clear as we approached the gates to Mont Rochelle.
Made famous because of its association with its owner, Richard Branson, Mont Rochelle’s gates immediately send a message of welcome and as we made our way through the winding country road towards the large manor house, the rolling fields and majestic mountainside got our pulses racing.
The moment we stepped out of the car, a beaming, laughing, gregarious gentlemen bounds up to us. Peter symbolizes Mont Rochelle, one of its earliest employees, a fountain of knowledge, his endearing personality overflowing with happiness. Any guest will feel immediately at home in the presence of Peter, as he sends you on a journey of history and experience with his tales of life in the Franschhoek valley.
Spellbound by the magic of Peter, he escorts us to our family suite, tucked away on one side of the manor house, nearer the vineyards but close enough to all the resort facilities that the children can roam freely knowing they are close by. The family suite has a large living room that spills into open grounds that borders the vineyards while a heated plunge pool completes the picturesque outdoor landscape. The master bedroom has a lovely open bathroom with a large sunken tub and rain shower.
No wine farm worth its weight would shy away from exhibiting its own wines. Mont Rochelle has an arsenal of award winning wines at its disposal, including Miko wine which is also the name of their flagship restaurant. Miko is produced in honor of the late Mr Miko Rwayitare a Rwandan billionaire who purchased Mont Rochelle in 2001 making the property the first black owned wine estate in South Africa. He was also the owner of Hotel des Mille Collines on which the film Hotel Rwanda was based. I have to be honest, I personally loved the taste of Miko Red and as someone who has a soft spot for Rwanda, a huge cheers from me to Mr Miko and huge respect that Mont Rochelle, to this day, honor Mr Miko!
Guests are greeted in their room by a very generous collection of complimentary Mont Rochelle wines. As I eye my wine collection, Peter gives us an idea of what kind of activities we can expect over the next couple of days.
We enjoyed a wine tasting class for families at the Mont Rochelle Country House. The kids had a selection of juices while we went for the selection of grapes.
Obviously in wine country, a lot of activities revolve around wine tasting and visiting wine farms. Mont Rochelle is located close to the village so its easy to enjoy a village walk around the multiple boutiques. While in Franschhoek take the Wine Tram to visit other wine farms, or alternatively Mont Rochelle can provide a private shuttle service. I would recommend a visit to La Motte, Boschendal and lunch at the ultra luxury Leeu Estates which is right next door to Mont Rochelle.
Traveling with my family and because a lot of my clients want to visit wine farms with their families, I was seeking wine farms with a distinct family touch. Mont Rochelle had always been at the top of my list so staying in this beautiful property was an added bonus to utilizing its list of activities around the property – so many outdoor games and so much land to run around, not to mention the hotel swimming pool.
Wine country comes with a special vibe, that laidback country feel that gives one an opportunity to truly switch off, enjoy nature, indulge in fine food and drink and really grasp the true aspect of living in a wine valley with its unique history and personal idiosyncrasies. Mont Rochelle wraps all this up in luxurious surroundings and gives you a great location from which to take it all in.
To book your stay, with special offers, contact Unique Family Travels.