Earlier this year I had the pleasure of hopping on the Franschhoek Wine Tram’s Blue Line (see my review for more info) – and in so doing, I was able to visit the beautiful, quintessentially Cape Dutch wine farm: Holden Manz Wine Estate.
After being dropped off near to the Franschhoek Kitchen restaurant and inquiring after our pre-arranged picnic, my friend and I asked if we could walk down to front gate to see the small dam, which had caught our eye as we passed by in our chic, yet gamely, tram bus.
We were warmly invited to do this, so we made our way through the vineyards, many of which were sagging under the weight of their precious burgundy fruits.
Upon reaching the dam, we were afforded some spectacular views of Holden Manz and the Franschhoek Kitchen, as it lies tucked away in the vineyards, with the majestic Franschhoek mountains looming majestically behind it.
Here, one can also see some of Holden Manz’s wonderful accommodation options. For more information on this, please see: http://holdenmanz.com/stay-relax.
We made our way back through the path leading via the vineyards – and then it was: picnic time!
Picnicking by Old Man River
We had set aside two hours to spend at Holden Manz (so as not to forfeit visiting the final two stops on the Blue Line, in Rickety Bridge and Grande Provence), with a leisurely, unhurried picnic down by the river foremost in this thought planning.
We retrieved our picnic from near the open kitchen, where the baskets were waiting for their owners, and between my travel companion and I, we carried it down to the river. (Baskets can be collected anytime between 12:00-16:00pm.)
The picnic basket was pretty heavy, so for anyone unable to carry it on their own or with a friend’s help, I would definitely suggest asking for some external assistance. (When you are done picnicking, please return your basket to the kitchen.)
Also, bear in mind that the riverside picnic spots – nestled beneath and indeed amidst the trees – work on a first come, first serve basis… so to ensure you get a prime spot, try get there before too many other picnickers arrive.
We chose a spot with more shade than sunshine, as a respite from the day’s heat, and, although it was on the edge of the vineyard-lined road (again, you walk through the vineyards to get to and from picnic spots), we were fortunate enough to be able to see the tricking streams snaking their way down to the river banks themselves.
It’s a really beautiful place for a picnic and the vineyard walks definitely supply a genuine Cape working farm/estate experience, something I really loved because it transported me back to my childhood farm days near the Klein Karoo town of Montagu.
The old-fashioned, yet faintly elegant benches and tables are made from cool cement, and are thus nice and sturdy.
We were each provided with a comfy, brightly coloured cushion to avoid sore bums, as well as the quintessential picnic blanket to use as your tablecloth. 🙂
Our picnic itself (which costs R275 per person, with a 10% gratuity included in the cost) was Holden Manz’s Festive Picnic. This is their current picnic menu.
What we found inside our picnic basket
However, there are also vegetarian (R275 per person) and kiddies (R150 per child) Franschhoek river picnic options available.
Our picnic spread included the following:
– freshly baked Mosbolletjies (traditional Cape sweet bread, made from fermented grape juice; possibly an acquired taste.)
– 12 Pigs Charcuterie
– delicious Dalewood Cheeses (always a firm favourite of mine now!)
– Holden Manz olives
– Fresh grapes and berries (these were slightly overripe, but still fresh enough.)
– Chilli apricot preserve and spiced pickled cucumber
– Ryan Boon Biltong (I am not normally a fan of biltong at all – but this was honestly divine; meat lovers, rejoice!)
– Smoked Snoek pate (an unusual pate offering.)
– Homemade Bobotie Pies (Bobotie is a traditional Cape Malay dish but having it in a pie was a new experience for me.)
– Yorkshire Pudding Sandwich: rare roast beef (this was good), horseradish, balsamic onions and gherkins.
– Marinated Buffalo Mozzarella, tomato and sweet basil salad beetroot (this I enjoyed but there was a slight excess of sweet basil leaves!)
– Plum and feta salad (I found this (sadly) overpoweringly salty, despite my over-love for salt)
– Raspberry ‘trifle’ cupcakes (these were quite unusual and not like any other cupcakes I have previously had)
– And finally, to end things off on a sweeter note, a cherry Macaroon with dark chocolate ganache.
If you would like to add any beverages, including some award-winning Holden Manz wine, these can be purchased from the Restaurant prior to enjoy your picnic. We merely opted for some cool water but I was blessed to receive some of the wonderful Holden Manz 2016 Rose before we left.
(Wine tastings and purchasings are also offered by Holden Manz and I would recommend this if you are not going to purchase any wine to enjoy with your picnic.)
This particular Rose definitely packs a great kick and went down particularly well a few days later with my birthday supper… My express thanks to Franschhoek Kitchen Restaurant Manager, Cobi Bosch, for thoughtfully making this possible! 🙂
Overall, my Holden Manz picnic experience was enjoyable and receives a 7/10 rating for the following:
– The chance to visit and explore the outstanding Holden Manz estate. It now undoubtedly ranks as one of the most genuine and beautiful Cape wine farms I have visited to date. (And I’ve visited a fair view by this time…)
– The truly traditional wicker picnic basket, which adds to the authenticity of your picnicking fun; the generous amount of goodies each basket contains – especially in relation to the cost per person – easily making for a filling meal for two people sharing as we were.
– The picturesque riverside setting, which offers both shade and sunshine as desired.
– The array of food offerings in the Festive Picnic, which allow everyone to find something that they can enjoy. My stand-outs were the truly excellent Ryan Boon biltong, Buffalo mozzarella, tomato and sweet basil salad and finally, the Dalewood cheeses, which never fail to please.
– The way that both meat eaters and even vegetarian-type eaters (like myself as someone who is not a big fan of meat in large quantities…).
– Finally, the excellent service we received at Holden Manz Wine Estate, in particular from Cobi.
My sincerest thanks to Holden Manz Wine Estate, the Franschhoek Wine Tram and finally, to my friend and travel companion, Alicia Chamaille for all making this fun, scenic picnic experience possible!
I strongly recommend visiting this pretty Franschhoek Estate and I will definitely return someday soon to Holden Manz… It really does have a hold on me now!
For more information on Holden Manz (and their picnic options), please contact them directly on: (021) 876 2738 or email them at: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also visit their website and follow them on social media.
Author: Tamlyn Amber Ryan
Tamlyn Ryan is a writer and blogger, who runs her own travel blog, called Tamlyn Amber Wanderlust. Despite a national diploma in Journalism, her preferred niche remains travel writing. She is a hopeless wanderer, equipped with an endless passion for road trips, carefully planned, holiday itineraries and above all else, the great outdoors.