You can't go to Cape Town without experiencing what its wine regions have to offer. I've spent some time in Stellenbosch as well as Constantia, so it was only right that I extended some love to Franschhoek. After googling information about wineries, the Franschhoek Wine Tram immediately appeared. Their website says,
"The Franschhoek Wine Tram hop-on hop-off tour is one of the best ways to discover the true essence of the Franschhoek Valley – picturesque vineyards, breath-taking scenery, warm hospitality, world-class cuisine, fine wines and a 300 year history."
It sounds marvelous! But as I discovered, there are definitely some pros and cons to a day trip on the wine tram.
1. You can visit more than one vineyard.
There are four lines to choose from based on your preferences. The green and blue lines are known for their local wines, while the red and yellow lines stop at international wine farms. Because the tram allows for a hop-on/hop-off experience, you can stay at a vineyard for an hour or longer if you want to skip the next stop.
2. The views are unmatched.
There are literally no bad views at any vineyard.
3. Each winery offers something different.
Each vineyard has their own specialty. For example, La Lude produces fermented sparkling wines with the Cap Classique method (would be called 'champagne' if produced in the Champagne region in France). This tasting room was one of my favorites because of its French-like decor and beautiful chandeliers. Other vineyards and tasting rooms were more rustic and earthy. You'll definitely finish the day with a preference.
4. It's great for meeting other locals and tourists alike.
It's almost impossible not to make friends with fellow tram riders. And believe it or not, you may meet local South Africans. Hey, if you had beautiful rolling hills with perfect vineyards near your city, you'd spend time there too.
While there are many pros, there were also some cons you should be aware of before embarking on the wine tram.
1. It's not a train.
I read "Franschhoek Wine Tram" and thought, "Oh cool! A train!" However, I failed to read the fine print that says you only take the 'tram' (read: not train) to two vineyards. The remaining vineyards are serviced by a bus or trolley. This is definitely clever marketing on the company's part. Be sure to read the fine print.
2. There are no extended stays.
If you spend more than one hour at the vineyard of your choosing, you won't be able to see the remaining vineyards on the tour. Toward the middle of the tour, I started to get restless shuttling from one vineyard to the next. And after a while, all the wine starts to taste the same, especially if you're doing multiple tastings.
3. The day becomes LONG.
Around stop #5, we had our fill of wine. We hopped off and they drove us back to the starting location.
Things You Should Know:
- The tour costs R200 per person or approximately $12.50 and includes wine tastings at 2 of the 7 wineries you can visit.
- You should buy your tickets online and pick them up at the kiosk, which I highly recommend. The tours sell out quickly and you'll have made the trip out to Franschhoek for nothing.
- You can either stay at one of the vineyards for lunch (skipping one vineyard on the tour) or you can snack at each place along the way. We decided to eat small portions at each vineyard to taste a variety of options. However, if you decide to eat lunch at one place, be sure to make reservations because the vineyard may be closed or booked.
- Make sure you take great photos! There's beauty everywhere.
Overall, I'd suggest the Wine Tram if you'd like to see a variety of vineyards in Franschhoek. Just be sure you're properly prepared by making restaurant reservations, bringing a bottle of water, your flat shoes and a positive attitude!