The Western Cape Winelands stretch from the eastern edge of Cape Town far to the east, but the most important wineries are located in the triangle between Stellenbosch, Paarl and pretty Franschhoek.
Apart from wine, the hallmarks of the Cape Winelands region are sophisticated gastronomy and meticulously restored Cape Dutch-style houses complete with manicured gardens.
Even the graceful landscape of green vineyards against the striking backdrop of the Drakenstein Mountains looks manicured.
Visiting wineries and tasting the respective wines and cuisines is the essential activity that visitors to the Cape Winelands enjoy.
The most beautiful of the famous wine villages is Franschhoek.
Once the “French Angle” was founded by Huguenots, and it was their vines they brought in that laid the foundation of South African viticulture.
The monument, visible from afar at the southern end of the village, commemorates the persecution and emigration of the Huguenots.
Ironically, the monument, whose iconography allegorically evokes freedom and liberation from foreign domination, was inaugurated just weeks before the National Party won the 1948 election. Of all people, the Huguenot Daniel François Malan thereafter embodied the apartheid policy and the oppression of the non-white population that went along with it….
Franschhoek, with its population of just under 4000, is considerably smaller than Stellenbosch and Paarl.
The main street in the small center is crowded with boutiques, sidewalk cafes and excellent restaurants, which are literally overrun by crowds of visitors from Cape Town, especially on weekends.
A growing series of events advertise wine and food.
Apart from the “Franschhoek Wine Route” with numerous renowned wine estates such as Boschendal, La Motte, L’Ormarins, Dieu Donné, Mouton-Excelsior or Haute Provence, which are open to visitors and offer wine tastings, the “Museum van de Caab” is well worth a visit.
In contrast to the Huguenot Museum next to the “Huguenot Monument”, the whole story is told here. Using the example of the Delta Farm (today: Solms-Delta Wine Farm) and its inhabitants, the exhibits create a historical panorama from the first settlement 5,000 years ago, through the expulsion and dispossession of the Khoekhoen (pronounced Koikoin) by the Dutch East India Company and the period of slavery, colonialism and apartheid, to the release of Nelson Mandela from the nearby Drakenstein prison in 1990. Thus, the story of a single farm serves as an archetype of South African history as one of displacement, oppression, resistance, and reconciliation.