To experience the ‘vineyard lifestyle’, there’s nothing to beat a picnic on a wine farm – whether you bring your own basket and purchase a bottle or two at the tasting room, or order one of the many gourmet picnics now offered by producers who’ve realised that there’s hardly a better way to showcase their wines.
There’s no need to be fancy. One of my most memorable picnics involved a chunk of cheddar, a packet of Provitas, a bottle of Tassies, and a young Swedish yacht designer whom I found quite delicious at the time.
My taste in wine – and men – has become more sophisticated since then; my point is that a good picnic doesn’t require much more than a few snacks, a patch of grass, a shady tree and a lovely view – and these are not hard to find in the Cape winelands.
This page is based on, expanded from, and an updated version of an article I wrote for WINE magazine.
Many wine farms invite you to bring your own basket (so you don’t have to trespass, as I have to confess was the case with my errant Swede). It’s always calling ahead to make sure they’re open/not hosting a private function etc. Listed by wine route/area, they include:
- Breedekloof: Avondrood, Badsberg, Botha, Breeland, Dagbreek, Du Preez, Du Toitskloof, Kirabo, Lorraine, Mountain Ridge, Rico Suter, TCB, uniWines
- Constantia: Constantia Mist, High Constantia
- Darling: Groote Post, Ormonde
- Durbanville: Diemersdal, Klein Roosboom
- Green Mountain Eco Route (Bot River, Elgin): Almenkerk, Barton, Elgin Ridge, Glen Erskine, Iona, Gabrielskloof, Keisseskraal, Paul Cluver, Spioenkop, Springfontein, Thandi, Valley Green, Wildekrans
- Franschhoek: Franschhoek Cellar, GlenWood, La Bri, Lynx, Topiary
- Garden Route: Herold, Jakkalsvlei
- Klein Karoo: Barrydale, Bergwater, Calitzdorp, De Krans, Hillock, Montagu Wine Cellar, Oudtshoorn Cellar, TTT
- Olifants River: Cape Rock, Cederberg, Driehoek, Fryers Cove, Klawer, Seal Breeze, Sir Lambert, Stellar, Teubes, Tierhoek, Vleiland
- Paarl: African Terroir, Arra, Ayama, Backsberg, Crows Nest, Druk My Niet, Klein Parys, Landskroon, Mon Reve, Mooi Bly, Perdeberg, Simonsvlei
- Robertson: Bushmanspad, Clairvaux, Excelsior, Goedverwacht, Kingsriver, Kranskop, McGregor, Rooiberg, Rusticus, Springfield, Samsare, Windfall, Zandvliet
- Southern Cape (Elim/Agulhas): Strandveld, The Berrio
- Stellenbosch: Alluvia, Amani, Annandale, Beau Joubert, Bonfoi, Boschkloof, Camberley, Goede Hoop, Groenland, Hathersage, Hoopenberg, Journey’s End, Kaapzicht, Kanonkop, Koopmanskloof, L’Avenir, Louisvale, Mooiplaas, Natte Valleij, Overgaauw, Post House, Rainbow’s End, Reyneke, Ridgemor, Saxenburg, StellenRust, Thelema, Uitkyk, Villiera, Wedderwill
- Swartland: Annex Kloof, Babylon’s Peak, Franki’s, Dragonridge, Kloovenburg, Lammershoek, Nieuwedrift, Org de Rac, Pulpit Rock, Riebeek
- Tulbagh: Koelfontein, Lemberg, Saronsberg, Tulbagh Wine Cellars, Waverley
- Walker Bay: Benguela Cove, Birkenhead, Boschrivier De Villiers, Bouchard Finlayson, Raka, Springfontein, Stanford Hills, Whalehaven
- Wellington: Linton Park, Maske, Schalk Burger & Sons, Welvanpas
- Worcester: Conradie, De Wet, Nuy, Stettyn
Pack a sturdy wicker basket and/or cooler box, a couple of rugs, some cushions or fold-up chairs, and an umbrella in case you can’t find a shady spot.
There’s no need to pack a corkscrew if you’re on a wine farm – they’ll open your purchases for you (and screwcaps were surely invented for picnics?).
Most wine farms geared up for BYO picnics will provide glasses. But if you want to play it safe and take your own, there’s no need to resort to plastic or pewter cups – most wine glasses come in cardboard boxes with inserts, so can be transported pretty much anywhere.
Plastic or metal cutlery, the level of sophistication is entirely up to you – just makes sure you’ve got the tools you need to eat whatever food you’ve prepared!
Don’t forget the napkins/wipes/antibacterial gel and a refuse bag for afterwards.
Also pack sunscreen, insect repellent, antihistamines…
Pack lots of different finger foods to nibble on, preferably on the lighter side and served cold (so pack it all in a cooler box, along with some ice in which to plunge your bottles of wine later).
Whatever you choose to drink outdoors on a warm, sunny day should be refreshing – the citrus fruit and minerality of a crisp, acidic Sauvignon Blanc or an unwooded Chenin Blanc; the fresh melon and strawberry flavours of a dry but fruity rosé; the relative lightness of a Pinot Noir; the effervescence of a Méthode Cap Classique bubbly to raise your picnic to another level altogether.
Even red wines should be served chilled!
Avoid oak (the only wood in your basket should be the cheeseboard and a few toothpicks) and don’t go for anything too complex: all subtlety will be lost in the fresh air and sunshine.
The wine shouldn’t be inferior to anything you would normally drink at home.
And remember to drink plenty of water and/or soft drinks to avoid dehydration.