As summer ebbs away towards autumn, make the most of the mild days with a picnic at one of these delightful local wine estates.
With a blanket spread beneath shady oak trees and a cornucopia of delicious lunchtime bites, it’s hard not to love a good picnic. There are dozens of wine estates offering vineyard picnics, from the ever-popular picnic pods on family-friendly Warwick Wine Estate to the platters at historic Groote Post on the West Coast.
One of my favourites is Uitkyk Wine Estate on the outskirts of Stellenbosch. On the spacious lawns beneath towering oak trees, the Georgian character of the famous Manor House is celebrated in the farm’s stylish picnics; expect croquet sets laid out, and a classic basket brimming with breads, pâté, cheese and charcuterie delivered to your blanket. Each basket includes a bottle of Uitkyk wine, but it’s worth stopping in at the wine-tasting centre beforehand; the estate is particularly famous for its Cabernet Sauvignon.
While Uitkyk offers an atmosphere of relaxed romance, Allée Bleue is perfect for families. A large jungle gym and jumping castle give adults a break as they tuck into a generous spread of dishes laid out on the shady tables – no need for blankets. Alongside the usual breads and cheeses, the inclusion of a range of chilled salads in jars is a nice touch here, and much of the fresh herbs and salad leaves are grown on the estate. Expect the likes of wild rice salad with organic baby carrots; baby fennel with red onion, and a delicious stir-fry of soy-sesame beef with egg noodles. There’s also laid-back live music on Sundays.
Neighbouring Solms-Delta also offers lovely family-friendly picnics on the riverbank, while Hartenberg is famous for its farm hospitality. Cellar master Carl Schultz crafts some of the best Rieslings in the Cape, a perfect partner to the generous picnic hampers loaded up with charcuterie, caramelised-onion dip, panko-crumbed chicken pops, fresh salads, and the estate’s snoek pâté. There’s plenty of space for children to run riot, and the service is friendly and attentive.
Taste for yourself:
Uitkyk Wine Estate: 021 884 4416, uitkyk.co.za
Allée Bleue: 021 874 1021, alleebleue.co.za
Solms Delta: 021 874 3937, solms-delta.co.za
Hartenberg: 021 865 2541, hartenbergestate.com
This article originally appeared in Neighbourhood, Sunday Times.