After a hectic few weeks I was thrilled to drive out to the winelands this weekend for a stay at the beautiful La Petite Ferme. This wine estate just outside Franschhoek boasts with the most beautiful views in the valley, and you’ll be hard pressed to find a more magnificent panorama of Franschhoek, a 180 degree picture of rolling mountains flowing into patchwork vineyards.
It was an absolutely perfect day. We’ve officially passed the hottest days of summer and moved into my favourite season: Autumn. The vineyards have just begun to turn from lush green to golden and orange hues, and the sun is softer and more welcoming. After checking in at reception – chauffeured by a friendly assistant on a golf cart – I instantly swapped my jeans for shorts and dipped my toes into the pool, breathing it all in.
The rooms at La Petite look out over the vineyards and the mountains beyond, with a sense of space but also privacy. Once you’re there, it is very tempting to spend the entire day next to the pool, soaking up the surrounds. And that is exactly what I did. I had a bottle of wine – complementary to guests – a book (How to Murder your Life by Cat Marnell) and one helluva setting. I was planning on taking it sloooooow.
That evening I had dinner at the restaurant. I strolled over from my room just after sunset and took my seat inside the cozy dining room by a window, looking out over the twinkling lights in the valley. Between soft lighting, calming jazz music, welcoming waiters and a fat glass of Shiraz in my hand, I was in a perfectly happy place.
On the recommendation of the waitress I started my meal with their ostrich carpaccio. It was a beautiful combination, with an intense savoury flavour from gorgonzola cream drops, balanced by light, sweet melon pieces and tangy red onion, and a hint of smokiness from toasted pumpkin seeds. These big flavours worked perfect in harmony while complementing the thinly sliced meat.
My main course was slow roasted leg of rabbit. The meat has a similar taste and texture to chicken drumsticks or even quail. In this case is was delicate and succulent, served with a mustard apple sauce, sweet potato puree and dried apples, topped with crunchy baby veg. While the presentation was a bit rustic the flavours were divine and I was very close to wiping the plate clean with my finger.
I ended my meal with a pavlova dessert. I was instantly impressed by the presentation, a deconstructed version of the classic, with dollops of cream holding shards of meringue and caramel nut brittle, arranged around rich stewed plums and delicate marshmallow cubes. It was just the right balance of sweet, creamy and tart flavours to lure you in for another bite.
This is not the type of restaurant that faffs and fiddles with foams, dry ice or spherification. For that you can head to one of the modern choices in town. Their dishes are rustic and comforting, and the flavours are clean and beautiful. You won’t be disappointed and you won’t leave hungry.
Price wise, starters range between R80 and R108, mains between R150 and R220, and desserts between R74 and R92.
Between the fresh air and calming environment, I was ready for an early night in. I was snuggled up under the ultra soft down duvet by 20:30, drifting off to the sound of crickets in the vineyards in no time.
The next morning I woke to a cool blue valley, with the sun just starting to light up the peaks. I wrapped myself in one of their fluffy white gowns, made a cup of Terbodore filter coffee and sat outside to watch the light spill into the vineyards. It was going to be another perfect day.
Breakfast at the estate was simple but lovely. The buffet offered a good selection of basic cereals, granola, nuts, seeds, fresh fruit and yogurt. On another table you could grab a decadent pastry, fresh bread, smoked trout and cheese. I had a bit of everything and what I tasted was delicious. This was followed by a hot breakfast, and of course I couldn’t resist their French toast, topped with crispy bacon and a generous helping of sticky syrup.
After breakfast I strolled over the lawns, still damp with dew from the night before, taking in the sweeping panoramic views one more time before heading back to my room to pack. It was with a sigh that I loaded my car, checked in my key and headed back into civilization.
La Petite Ferme has some seriously tempting Winter Specials
From 1 May to 30 September, the mountainside estate will be offering some very tempting discounts and special offers.
Book four nights between Sunday and Thursday, and you’ll get 25% off plus breakfast and lunch daily, and a complimentary, all-inclusive full-day winelands tour. You will be taken to some of the most historic towns in the winelands: Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschhoek. Visit the wineries at Waterford and Delheim, Nelson Mandela’s former prison, and Mont Rochelle – the estate owned by Sir Richard Branson.
If you book for a three-night stay in the week, you’ll receive 25% off with complementary lunch and dinner.
Stay for two mid-week nights between Sunday and Thursday, and receive 20% discount, with breakfast and lunch included daily.
If you book over Friday and Saturday, you will receive a daily complimentary breakfast and lunch.
You can also join a La Petite Ferme chauffeur tour
This is an convenient way to see some of Franschhoek’s most popular wineries.
Option 1 takes you to Lynx Wines (they make a lovely Grenache) and Rickety Bridge, returning to La Petite Ferme for lunch and then setting off to Grand Provence followed by Mont Rochelle.
Option 2 stops at Dieu Donné, Rickety Bridge, Grand Provence and Mont Rochelle before returning to La Petite Ferme. A minimum of two people is required per booking and an hour is spent at each winery.