Franschhoek Wine Tram
The Franschhoek Wine Tram takes visitors in a loop around the stunning Franschhoek Valley, home to some of South Africa’s finest wines. The tracks were originally laid back in 1904, when steam trains ran though the valley taking the farmer’s produce to market. Diesel replaced steam in the 1970s until the route was closed in the 1990s. Now the route is back, and more popular than ever, thanks to the beautifully restored open-sided 19th-century Brill Trams. The trams seat up to 32 passengers on comfortable benches that give an unrestricted view of the valley and surrounding mountains. Vintage buses also run along part of the route, supporting the trams and making sure guests can reach all of the estates in the area during their trip.
Enjoy a Franschhoek Wine Tour
The Franschhoek Wine Tour has two lines to choose from, one red and one blue. Both the open-sided tram and the open-air tram-buses have a narration telling the story of Franschhoek and the settlers who brought their wine cultivation skills here from France. Passengers can hop-on and hop-off at vineyards along the route, enjoying complimentary wine tastings and lingering over a gourmet lunch. The Franschhoek vineyards range from exclusive boutique wineries specialising in unique flavours to extensive cellars with organised tours and in-depth tasting sessions.
The Blue Line tours depart on the hour from 10am until 1pm and visit La Bri, Holden Manz, Dieu Donne, Chamonix, Rickety Bridge and Grande Provence vineyards. The Red Line Tour starts a little later at 10.30am and runs every hour until 1.30pm, passing Mont Rochelle, La Couronne, Moreson, Leopard’s Leap, Rickety Bridge and Grande Provence. The estates offer wine tastings, al fresco dining amidst the scenic splendour of the valley, guided tours and the chance to relax and unwind.
History of the Franschhoek Wine Farms
The Franschhoek Wine Tours begin and end at the Franschhoek Village, where visitors can learn about the Huguenot settlers who came to The Cape in the 1600s. The Protestant Huguenots fled their native France in the face of religious oppression. Over 200,000 left France seeking new homes in Europe and a large number ended up in The Netherlands. Nine refugee families were gifted land in Cape Colony, run by the Dutch East India Company; and so began their transformation of this tiny tip of Southern Africa into the lush vineyards we see today.