When French Protestant refugees were shipped to the Cape Colony in the 1600s, they brought with them their knowledge of winemaking and viticulture from their native France. This began transforming the Franschoek Valley into what is today — one of the finest wine-producing regions in the world.
Franschhoek Wine Tram
At the time, Franschoek was known as Olifantshoek, named for the herds of elephants that roamed the area. Having been given land by the Dutch authorities, nine French Huguenot families settled in the area. They transformed the wild and uncultivated region into one of the most arrestingly beautiful valleys in the world.
Franschoek is not only a gem in the Cape Winelands crown, but has also been named the culinary capital of South Africa. Many of the Franschoek Valley wine estates boast world-famous restaurants and offer exquisite dining options. Unsurprisingly, wine lovers from across the globe have been flocking to the Cape Winelands for years to tour these idyllic wine estates.
There was just one small problem: driving home after a day of wine tasting. Enter the Franschhoek Wine Tram. Touted as the best way to view the Cape Winelands, The Franschhoek Wine Tram altogether erases the hassle of driving.
Depending on which tour or line you chose, tours leave from the Franschoek or Groot Drakenstein terminals and a transfer from the address of your choice in Cape Town. Stellenbosch, Paarl or Strand can then be added to your booking – your own private chauffeur!
An Unparalleled Vantage Point
The tracks that the Franschhoek Wine Tram run on were originally built in 1904 as an alternative to ox-drawn carts for farmers to get their produce to market. As road transport grew and the need for railway transport decreased in the 1990s, service along the railway line diminished and eventually became extinct.
The line remained dormant for more than a decade until it was revived and returned to full service in 2012 for the Cape Winelands’ beloved Franschoek Tram.
Passengers sit back comfortably and enjoy the best views of the Franschhoek Valley from the five-metre high double-decker trams that were modelled after the Blackpool Corporation Double Deck Balcony Tramcar circa 1923.
With no less than eight lines (each showcasing different parts of the Franschhoek Valley) and four different tour experiences to choose from (ranging from basic hop-on-hop-off to exclusive wine and cuisine tours), the Franschhoek Wine Tram is the wine-lover’s gift that keeps on giving. Whether Western Cape local or inter-provincial traveller, you will never run out of options for re-stocking the wine cooler!
Franschoek Wine Tour Options
1. Hop-on hop-off experience
This experience is the most popular as it allows you complete freedom to structure your day as you choose. Hop off at any wine estate on the line, enjoy activities on offers such as wine tasting, food and wine pairings, a cellar tour or a picnic and hop on again when you are ready to continue your journey.
The wine estates are all different, so before choosing a line, read about the estates and the activities they offer. Plan your day around the timetable of your chosen line. However, keep in mind that you may not have enough time to visit all the estates on each line. (We think this is a good thing as it gives you endless options to come back for again and again!)
If you are planning on having lunch, whether a multiple course dining experience, light lunch or a romantic picnic, be sure to call the estate and book in advance. And don’t forget to include a transfer with your wine tram booking to avoid driving home after your wine tour.
2. Curated Wine Experience
This experience will leave you feeling more cultivated and in touch with the local wine culture.
Engage all your senses as a knowledgeable wine guide accompanies you on an expertly curated wine experience, designed for bona fide wine lovers and foodies. Indulge in premium tastings and pairings and a cellar and vineyard tour. There’s also a specially curated three-course lunch as you visit a selection of wine estates.
The day starts with a scenic tram ride from the Franschoek Terminal to a wine estate where your wine guide will share interesting stories about Franschoek’s history of wine, interwoven with the scientific aspects of winemaking. You will learn about local grape varieties, cultivars and aspects of viticulture that are unique to Southern Africa. Your wine guide will also guide you through and afford you an opportunity to sample the subtle tastes of terroir.
A tour of the estate precedes a specially curated three-course lunch at the estate restaurant. After lunch, you will visit two additional top Franschoek wine estates for a premium wine tasting at each before returning to the Franschoek Terminal.
3. Exclusive Wine and Cuisine Experience
Celebrate the good life with this all-inclusive private tram experience that will leave you feeling pampered and relaxed. The serene surroundings of the Franschhoek Mountains form the backdrop against which a day of marvellous gastronomy and wine unfolds. MCC and Champaign truffles are just the beginning…Indulge in tasteful cuisine presented in the form of multi-course food and wine pairings that include breakfast, lunch and dessert.
The first stop is the underground wine cellar at Haute Cabrière where you will experience a cellar sabrage – the ceremonial technique of opening a bottle of bubbles with a sabre. Good MCC can’t be wasted and so you will get to sip some bubbles before heading to breakfast and wine pairing.
Back on the tram; take in the beauty of the vineyards while sipping bubbly and savouring Champagne truffles en route to the highly acclaimed Pierneef à La Motte Restaurant for a luxurious lunch pairing. In addition to exceptional wine and food, you can also browse around an extensive art gallery with some highly collectable pieces on display.
The final stop of the day is a magnificent vineyard that boasts an extraordinary sunset view over the valley. A selection of delectable desserts, paired with beautiful wines awaits at Dieu Donne. Enjoying a glass of fine wine while watching the sun starting to set draws a fabulous day of wining and dining your way through the most beautiful valley in the Cape Winelands to a close.
4. Group Experience
If you have friends, family or colleagues that you haven’t seen in a very long time due to Covid-19, this is the perfect way to reunite and celebrate.
On this dedicated tour for groups of 20 or more, guests visit up to three world-renowned wine estates in the Franschhoek Valley, enjoying superb wine, food and views. Each wine estate offers a selection of wine tastings, showcasing the estate’s award-winning wines.
You can also personalise the group’s day within the itinerary provided by adding a dining experience, wine lecture or preferred activity on offer.
While Covid numbers are dropping and the percentage of fully vaccinated adults are increasing daily, we still need to protect each other.
- Masks must be worn at all times throughout your journey.
- Temperature screening will be done upon entry to the premises.
- Hand sanitising will occur before entering the facilities as well as all vehicles.