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Picnic Review: A Waterside Picnic at Mont Rochelle

Mont Rochelle, a picturesque wine estate in the Franschhoek Wine Valley, is one of my favourite wine farms. Not only does it form part of the fun Wine Tram tours but it is a great wine farm, with excellent food and wine, accommodation and estate experiences to enjoy.

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Mont Rochelle also doubles as a stunningly beautiful wedding venue. (It’s also a lovely place to get engaged.) Happily, the estate offers some nature-rich outdoor experiences.

In fact, this estate is one of the most well-rounded you will find anywhere in the Cape Winelands.

A Wonderful Waterside Picnic at Mont Rochelle

But one of the biggest appeals for me is the fact that Mont Rochelle offers gorgeous, waterside picnics. As a wonderful surprise and treat, I was recently whisked off to Franschhoek to try one of their picnics.

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I thoroughly enjoyed my second visit to the estate and was very impressed with their picnic offering, not least of all for its incredible setting by the estate dam.

Mont Rochelle Wine Estate: Where Quality is a Given

Since 2014, Mont Rochelle has formed part of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Limited Edition, a collection of travel retreats and hotels. Because of this, quality is a given.

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And from the moment you arrive at the estate, there is a distinct air of luxury-meets-laidback farm life. It entranced me on my first visit with the Franschhoek Wine Tram – and so it did again on my return.

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It’s not pretentious or overbearing… It is simply the perfect balance, which whispers of a wonderful experience.

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Aside from the estate’s obvious beauty, evident in its Cape Dutch-style buildings (the Manor House is truly beautiful) and lush vineyards… The setting is remarkable.

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Mont Rochelle lies tucked away in the Franschhoek Valley and to find it, you amble down quiet country roads and through Franschhoek’s leafy streets. It’s a magical experience.

Yet, nothing quite prepares you for when you step out and the imposing Franschhoek mountains loom before and behind you.

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I honestly think this estate is blessed with one of the most impressive locations in Franschhoek – and that’s saying a lot.

But Mont Rochelle isn’t famed purely for its setting – the estate and its offering speak proudly for themselves.

A Country Kitchen Picnic in the Cape Winelands

Mont Rochelle is home to two well-known restaurants, The Country Kitchen and MIKO Restaurant. MIKO is the main restaurant, ideal for gourmet dining and special occasions. I haven’t visited MIKO but it looks gorgeous.

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Still, I am especially fond of The Country Kitchen, which is best suited to light meals. And there is also, of course, the winery and tastings to enjoy.

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In terms of picnic offerings, Mont Rochelle caters well to its guests, as both adults and children are carefully thought of.

Guests have a choice between several picnic offerings. These are as follows: Chardonnay Basket, Mont Rochelle Mini Basket (only available to children under 12) and finally, Miko Basket. For our visit, we would try the Miko Basket, priced at R580 for two adults sharing.

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Picnic Fun at Mont Rochelle

Picnic goodies and prices vary, but all picnics must be booked at least 12 hours in advance. Naturally, picnics also rely on good weather conditions.

Please note: wine and other beverages are excluded from the picnic cost. These can be purchased separately from The Country Kitchen when you collect your picnic basket. If you order too much wine/drinks, this can increase your overall price quite a bit. But a bottle or some Appletisers won’t break the bank too much.

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Oh and we were provided with some comfortable, smart picnic blankets to ensure a comfy picnic experience. ūüôā

Once we had retrieved our lovely Miko basket, it was time to head for the dam. This is where all the picnic tables and dedicated picnic spots are located.

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This is a short walk down from The Country Kitchen. We were fine carrying our goodies without too much trouble… But I am sure staff will readily assist if needed, as everyone at Mont Rochelle is extremely friendly and helpful.

A Peaceful Picnic by the Dam

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The dam is hugged on either side by trees and vineyards. This is one of the most peaceful spots I’ve ever enjoyed on a wine farm… It feels like a working farm, without losing the magic of this fine wine estate. Willow trees trail into the water, as geese and guinea fowl calls break the otherwise peaceful quiet.

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Just a note: swimming and entering the dam is prohibited. And, as it’s close to where you picnic, please be careful with children. Especially as the lawn is quite bouncy in places.

I enjoyed walking along the lawn-covered dam wall, as we vetted each of the picnic tables for the best spot.

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As it was a sunny but slightly blustery winter’s day, we decided to instead sit underneath the large tree, in an open grassy space. (If you wish to use a picnic table, there are several lovely benches dotted around the dam. But the lawn is great for picnicking too.)

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We spread out our blankets and eagerly opened up our picnic basket. With the contents neatly laid out, we began tucking in.

Inside Our Miko Picnic Basket

Our Miko picnic basket included the following goodies, all carefully packaged in recyclable, little boxes:

  • South African cheeses and homemade preserves (Gorgonzola , Smoked kwaito and Pecorino) (9/10 for me; I thoroughly enjoyed this.)

  • Various charcuterie (Italian salami, Black forest ham and Coppa) served with homemade pickles and chutneys. (We didn’t try all the pickles and chutneys but the one we did try was good… Another 9/10 rating.)

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  • Smoked salmon pate, capers, fresh lemon and rocket. (Unusually nice but the pate becomes quite rich after a while, so it’s an 8/10.)

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  • Potted shrimp cocktail. (I honestly felt this lacked flavour but the delicious shrimps were perfectly cooked. 7/10.)

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  • Zucchini Fritters, smoked tomato aioli. (Again, unusual but very good. My partner raved about the zucchini fritters especially. 8/10 for this.)¬†

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  • Roast butternut and feta salad, with toasted pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries. (A very simple, tasty salad. 9/10.)
  • Harissa-spiced chicken and vegetable wrap with cream cheese and coriander. (A decent, generously-sized wrap, which I found tasty. 8/10.)
  • Homemade haddock fishcakes with tartar sauce. (Not a fan but not bad. 6/10.)

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  • Country salad: Feta, peppers, cherry tomatoes, pickled cucumber, green olives, carrot, red onion, baby potato and marjoram dressing. (Not the freshest salad and the feta was exceptionally hard too. So a 6/10 for me.)
  • Dark chocolate and cranberry Torte, salted caramel sauce. (This was very tasty! An easy 9/10.)
  • Malva truffles, rose mulberries with chocolate sauce. (This was nice but not the best malva I have had. 8/10.)

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  • Homemade breads and smoked paprika tortilla chips. (Our pita breads were slightly doughy and took a lot of chewing. But the chips were really great and I liked that they tasted almost like samoosas. 8/10 for this.)

Marvellous Miko Picnic Spread

This picnic spread is very tasty and decidedly filling. It doesn’t seem like a lot once you first start eating, but midway through, it becomes satisfyingly filling. (In fact, having the picnic for lunch, we actually only felt hungry again that night.)

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In terms of drinks, as I was recovering from bad flu, we had to give the wine a miss. Instead, we opted for two Appletisers and a large bottle of still water.

The Miko picnic basket is a good basket overall, with a interesting and sometimes unexpected range of dishes, cuisines and flavours packaged together. I felt that some dishes and ingredients were made for each other, while others didn’t appeal that much to me. But I think this is a spread where everyone will find something they really enjoy.

How It Rated

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Overall, the Miko picnic was a good, tasty and filling picnic spread. Not all the elements (in terms of flavour/dish compatibility) were perfect to me – but it was still worthy of a firm 8/10 picnic rating.

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I also found the staff to be very friendly, so service is certainly good in our experience. Plus, the picnic booking/collection process (done online) was easy too.

My favourite thing about a Mont Rochelle picnic experience is the enviable setting by the dam, with the trees and picnic benches scattered around you. It makes for a very pleasant and soothing picnic venue. One which I imagine could be well-utilised during wedding functions.

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This is also a more remote part of the estate, so you feel the tranquil farm vibes more, which I really liked. It’s also nice that the vineyards are so close by… And honestly, the mountain and estate views are dreamy!

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Mont Rochelle’s picnics are very romantic for couples. But they are most perfect for young families or groups of friends or travellers too. (Particularly if you are interested in staying longer and booking out the luxurious Manor House for a night or two.)

A Word of Thanks

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While this was a paid experience (arranged as a surprise by my partner), Mont Rochelle would have been happy to host me. As such, I am extremely grateful to Charlotte Devenish and the Mont Rochelle kitchen team for their friendly, efficient correspondence and kindness in this regard. I am also grateful to my partner for thoughtfully planning this special picnic for me.

Thank you very much to Mont Rochelle as a whole for such lovely, waterside picnic experiences! I loved my return visit and will definitely be back again soon.

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For more information on Mont Rochelle and its excellent farm picnics, please contact: +27 (021) 876 2770 or email them at: countrykitchen@montrochelle.virgin.com.

You can also visit their website or find them for yourself at Mont Rochelle, Dassenberg Road, Franschhoek, Western Cape, South Africa.

Mont Rochelle is also on all leading social media platforms, so be sure to connect with and follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Author: Tamlyn Ryan

Content writer by day and blogger by night, Tamlyn Ryan passionately runs her own travel blog, called Tamlyn Amber Wanderlust, from her home base of Cape Town, South Africa. And, despite a national diploma in Journalism, in her free time, Tamlyn’s preferred niche remains travel writing.

Tamlyn is a hopeless wanderer, equipped with an endless passion for road trips, carefully planned, holiday itineraries and, above all else, an innate love for the great outdoors.

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