Recently, my friend and I had the enormous pleasure of being part of the hop-on, hop-off Franschhoek Wine Tram’s Blue Line tour.
Because of this, we were allowed to make a maximum of six stops (from an original selection of eight) at various participating Franschhoek wine farms – one such estate was La Bri.
I had first encountered La Bri (and their wonderful wines) at the 2015 edition of the Vinimark WineWorx Wine Trade Fair, which took place at the CTICC.
On that particular occasion, I was fortunate to meet La Bri’s talented winemaker, Irene Walker, in person. From the first, she came across as ultra-professional and warmly welcoming, and kindly invited me to sample their wines.
The result? I loved them and was quietly blown away by their exquisite packaging! The labels bore on them intricately beautiful floral patterns, which hinted at the theme La Bri follows in naming its wine too… That, is after indigenous Cape flora.
After that experience, when I eagerly looked over the Wine Tram’s Blue Line itinerary online, I knew La Bri was a must-make stop for us.
Further online investigation into the estate showed that they offered customised wine farm picnics. There again, the online images of said picnic spread and its packaging arrangements left me wowed.
The decision to try their picnic was an effortless and instanteous one and I have to admit, with La Bri as my second wine farm stop of the trip, I was highly eager to arrive at the estate and experience what I quietly hoped would be an amazing picnic.
Wine farm picnics are always extremely special, fun affairs, with a tasty array of different food offerings (with everything from savoury snacks, cheese and fruit and sweet treats usually included) to share with someone close to you. 🙂
I have been fortunate enough to experience four wine farm picnics to date, with three at Franschhoek-based estates and the last in Stellenbosch, and every time, it has been a new and fun occasion for me.
The picnics always have the estate’s personal stamp on them, with everything from the set-up and setting to basket contents and basket itself differing (some estates, including La Bri, opt for a type of crate instead).
Somehow, I feel they provide good insight into an estate and allow you to experience a fresh, more intimate side of the given wine farm.
Having already had some knowledge of La Bri and how they operate (read: smoothly and professionally), I arrived with quietly high expectations.
I am pleased to report that everything from arranging the picnic online to dealing with the staff at the estate upon arriving, lived up to those steep expectations – in fact, I feel now that they even exceeded them.
Upon our arrival at La Bri, we accompanied our group up to the wine-tasting centre, where you can sample their wines and try some lovely pairings, like wine and chocolate tastings, and visit the cellar.
Because we had scheduled spending an hour at La Bri in order to make our other stops on the Wine Tram (you can stay for a minimum of one hour at each estate; if you stay beyond that time, you risk forfeiting another estate because of time constraints on the day), we opted to collect our picnic immediately.
As soon as I asked after it, our picnic crates were promptly retrieved and brought out to us (having been prepared perfectly in advance).
Thereafter, two La Bri staff members carried our picnic crates out through the back garden and across to the green lawn. We had a choice between a picnic bench or the lawn, but we decided to go the old-fashioned route and sit on the grass.
After we chose a spot in the shade, with some dappled sunshine, our picnic was cleverly and expertly set out on the grass for us.
A pretty, soft blanket was laid out for each of us to sprawl out on (and later, sprawl we did) before one crate was inventively used as a little table for us. We found this particularly cute and thoughtful.
When the helpful, welcoming staff had departed, we were left to ourselves, seated in tranquil bliss, to pack out our basket’s contents with great excitement.
I was so taken by the beauty of it all that I determinedly snapped a pic of everything inside before we finally settled down under the oak trees to feast.
And feast we did! Our picnic crates contained almost more food than two hungry people could consume, so you definitely need to come hungry!
Aside from the aesthetic beauty of La Bri’s picnics – with their floral-capped glass jars and fresh flowers tastefully tied to or hidden inside each container and package – theirs is definitely one of the most filling wine farm picnics I have enjoyed.
Perhaps it is because the food is both delicious and recognisable, without being overly fancy or too exotic, which usually results in tentative tasting (I, personally, am not a fan of picnic pates…), or because the food is arranged so tastefully, but I have to say there was literally nothing in our shared picnic that either of us were unwilling to sample.
But for refusing much more than a mouthful of one jar (artichokes… a taste for which I have yet to acquire, though my companion adored them!), I personally relished and cleaned off almost everything that we shared.
Everything from our yummy potato salad, amazing cheese platter and mouth-watering sweet treats was superb!
We were also each supplied with a pretty plastic plate, serviette and wooden spoon, fork and knife.
La Bri picnics contain the following:
- Cheese platter: a selection of tasty cheeses, including: Winelands camembert, green fig brie and Emmental, served sweet onion marmalade, La Bri estate olives (they are possibly the best olives I’ve ever had) and deliciously fresh, green olive bread.
- Meat jar: excellent chargrilled chicken strips and salami sticks (both equally divine for meat eaters; meat can be replaced with either a vegetarian or fish option depending on preferred tastes or diets)
- Garden jar: salad of the day (delicious potato salad) and chargrilled artichokes, marinated in chilli lime and herb vinaigrette.
- Dip jar: roasted pepper hummus (it’s great with the bread)
- Fruit jar: (super fresh) ripe strawberries, blackberries and raspberries.
- Dessert jar: decadent caramel mousse, topped with a lovely almond butter brittle
- Beverages: a choice between either sparkling or still bottled water (we opted for still)
Note: Wine is not included in the picnic cost (R500 for two sharing; payment must be made two days prior to the date of your booking) but you can certainly purchase some from the Cellar Door to enjoy.
Wine choices include offerings from both Cellar Door and La Bri Estate wine ranges.
La Bri Estate Wines are as follows: Chardonnay 2015, Merlot 2014, Syrah 2013 and Affinity (Bordeaux Blend) 2013; whilst the Cellar Door Range offers: White Blend (Viognier/Chardonnay), Rose (Shiraz) and finally, the Red Blend (Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet Franc/Petit Verdot).
La Bri also offers a Kiddies Picnic option, ensuring the little ones are not left wanting.
The Kiddies Picnic includes the following: chicken strips, mature cheddar block, mini yoghurt, a fruit and popcorn pot, either fruit juice or ice tea – and, according to La Bri, a small surprise to keep your little one entertained.
From the first mouthful of our shared picnic to the very last (when we were slightly too full to finish everything; it’s a suitably filling spread), the food was sublime. So much so that honestly, there was nothing included in our picnic offering that I could fault.
As such, I am extremely happy to award La Bri’s picnic experience an easy 9/10 rating for the following: a superb and immaculately presented picnic crate; lovely, attentive service (staff came to check on us at least twice to make sure that all was in order and that we were enjoying ourselves); a peaceful, pretty setting; thoughtful extras (like the blankets and wooden cutlery) and above all, a thoroughly tasty, fresh and delectable picnic, which I do not doubt would contain something to satisfy most, if not all, varied palates and tastes out there.
Finally, but most importantly, I wish to extend my sincerest thanks to everyone involved at La Bri, who ensured we had such a spectacular picnic to enjoy, and/or who went to the trouble to make it such a special experience on the day for us – in particular Marilie Snyman and the staff I personally corresponded and dealt with both prior to and on the day of our visit.
I also wish to extend my thanks to the Franschhoek Wine Tram and my friend, Alicia, who made it possible for me to visit La Bri and enjoy such a lovely day, which I had planned as a kind of pre-birthday celebration.
I can strongly recommend the picnic experience at La Bri and hope that, like Alicia and me, you will come away from it feeling well-satisfied and thankful for such a special occasion and tasty picnic spread. (Note: This is a particularly great picnic to enjoy with a close friend, partner or parent.)
Please note: Booking is essential and La Bri picnics are subject to availability and of course, weather permitting conditions.
For more information on La Bri, their picnics and other estate offerings, please visit their website, email them at firstname.lastname@example.org or call them direct on (021) 876 2593.