Today I had the fun experience of visiting a wine farm for lunch… with a slight twist thrown in in the form of: a wicker and leather-strapped picnic basket.
At the Boschendal Wine Farm in the beautiful Franschhoek, famous for its immaculate wine farms, sparkling wines, glorious mountain views and galleries, my companions and I got to have a picnic in the stunning surrounds of this wine farm.
Our picnic baskets had been reserved and ordered before our arrival (this is probably the best method of approach but you can easily order your basket on arrival, although it might take a few minutes to put it all together). The baskets cost R150 per adult serving (it’s R59.00 per child) and normally come with the minimum requirement of two servings per basket.
I had a separate picnic basket all to myself (they are extremely cute and I would love one of my own!), which was a rare incidence because we were three in a group and usually the baskets have a minimum of two servings per basket. In this instance, we paid for one serving with a separate basket for me, while my two companions shared in the normal method.
The only difference with mine was the amount as well as certain aspects of the basket’s contents (although rather than having less in it, my basket appeared to have ‘more’, including a positively stuffed jar of preserve or, as it is known locally, konfyt and a jar of sticky, sweet strawberries) but either way, I can assure you there’s more than enough and you will leave your table well-satisfied in the end.
There are many picnic spots to choose from and whilst you could probably bring a blanket and settle down on the rolling green lawns under the shade of a tree to eat, the picnic tables with their stark, white tablecloths, brilliant shade-providing umbrellas and cushioned wrought-iron chairs just make life that much easier – & slightly more comfortable too!
Aside from a kitchen tent and shop tent (where you can pay and order your picnic goodies and standard snacks & cold drinks), there is also an open-air coffee-making ‘tent’, a lovely pond complete with lily pads, a beautiful, white garden gazebo, a curious red structure created by the prestigious and as of this year, late South African artist, Paul du Toit and finally, trees aplenty.
There are three picnic lunches to choose from: kiddies, vegetarian and the standard one with cold meats included (drinks and service are, however, excluded from the fee).
Ours was the cold-meat inclusive one, which we had with our 1865 Boschendal Chardonnay and sparkling water (both very nice and wonderfully chilled in a metal ice bucket near our table).
Inside your basket, assuming that you choose the meat-inclusive type, you will find two slices of bread (I’m not sure what type mine was but it was really good), a jar of pickled onions (not normally a fan but this particular batch was divine and almost more sweet than vinegary), strawberries (intended for dessert, though I ate some on their own too), fruit preserve (or konfyt) and ‘unground’ salt and pepper.
Strapped to the inside lid, you will find two of each of the following: small side plates, knives (be careful when you pull these out, they are very sharp and I managed to accidentally cut myself), forks & spoons, as well as a cloth serviette and small, eco-friendly cardboard boxes containing your dark chocolate brownie (dessert) and blocks of cheese.
There is also a tied parcel that has your cold meats well wrapped up inside it (the packaging, a kind of wrapping paper, was so nice that I decided to retain mine as a keepsake) as well as three small, round plastic containers filled with some apple, lettuce & radish salad, boiled baby potatoes done in a nice mustard sauce and a few pieces of chopped parsnips with some kind of special sauce – oh, and lastly, you have a little block of butter wrapped in plastic too! 🙂
As far as your cold meat selection goes, you will generally find two pieces of brilliant gammon and cold roast beef (done medium rare), as well as a kind of pistachio-embedded chicken pate (it looks a bit like corned meat) wrapped round the outside with bacon.
Overall, it was an excellent and filling meal (the double basket comes with lovely, sweetly pickled beetroot and a different type of bread but is otherwise the same) but I personally was not fond of the parsnip one, nor the taste of its ‘sauce’ and I have to honestly say that, for me personally, the chicken pate is not something I would order again in a hurry (purely because I don’t enjoy corned meat or chicken liver at all) but with some seasoning and pickled onions, it was okay.
The staff on hand are extremely courteous and efficient (in fact, at times they even run to and fro from the outdoor kitchen to your table to attend to your needs a little bit faster) and this is the first place I have eaten out at and had the manager approach the table saying, “Sorry to disturb you but are you enjoying everything?” Usually you just get interrupted midway through chewing a mouthful of food with no proffered apology from the eager staff.
Boschendal is a lovely, scenic place and apart from a busy, little bee and foolishly cutting my index finger with my own cutlery (excuse the mild pun here), I had a glorious time and I really loved the idea of combining a fancy wine farm atmosphere with your more relaxed, traditional picnicking.
After your meal is done, you can opt to explore the historic manor house (it’s R20 per adult, I think) and though I did not tour the house, it looked very old and the house and furniture was very well-preserved inside (and out) or instead meander through the rather amazing rose garden located to the side of and behind it.
There is also an old fowl run and a few other outbuildings, all of which are built using the wonderful Cape Dutch style that is so famous in this part of the country, as well as a gift shop and more ‘normal’ restaurant with outdoor tables and chairs.
Boschendal Contact number: +27 (021) 876 3692
(Note: There is also a wine cellar which is found at the end of another section of the Boschendal farm where one can go wine tasting)
A while ago, I wrote this Travel Review of the beautiful picnic experience I enjoyed at the breathtaking Boschendal Wine Estate, which I had the pleasure of visiting in 2014 with my special travel companions.
During our amazing Boschendal picnics, I accidentally managed to cut my hand with one of the knives. I just casually mentioned this as a small warning in the above post, not thinking anything more about it because I had an amazing day there and this little incident in no way marred that experience.
So, it was with great surprise and immense gratefulness that I received this most beautiful wine package from BoschendalWineEstate. They wrote that they had heard that I’d cut my hand and they wanted me to enjoy this on them. This was delivered to me yesterday by AtmosphereCommunications, after one of their company reps contacted me on Instagram, and I am still deeply touched and in a state of amazed shocked after this.
Yes, I know I write reviews – but this is a really, really wonderful and extremely professional, considerate gesture from all concerned and I am extremely thankful – not only for the amazing wine bottles but also for the handwritten note that was especially included and the care they clearly have for their visitors and customers!
Thank you so much to Boschendal and Atmosphere Comms for this kind gesture. This is quality service, sheer class and amazing thoughtfulness on your part and I am truly grateful! 10/10 for this and my wine picnic experience! 🙂