How do you ensure that everyone in the family, including the kids, will have a good time when you visit a winery? Some wineries are clearly not for children, others stick up a token jungle gym somewhere, but we’ve chosen eight that we know really make an effort to keep little ones amused.
Spier is an estate that understands children, so there are big lawns, jungle gyms and mobile chicken “hotels” for them to enjoy. Another prime attraction is Eagle Encounters. Eagle Encounters nurses injured or poisoned birds of prey back to health and once they are able to hunt and breed again, releases them back into the wild. Children (and adults) can hold an owl or an eagle in the touching gallery and take part in a falconry display with birds swooping all around. You can order a picnic basket, put your own one together in the deli, or have lunch at the Eight restaurant where their produce is sourced from the Spier farm, or farms nearby, with a focus on organically grown wherever possible.
Not eagles this time, but goats. At the entrance to Fairview is the goat tower, and a proud billy goat with huge horns stands guard on the tower staircase. Down below there is usually a less scary looking nanny goat who will allow the children to pat her and even feed her while mom and dad do a wine and cheese tasting. Fairview has a huge herd of goats and offers a great range of goats milk and other cheeses. They have just introduced a full fat, free range strained yoghurt, free of any additives which is so delicious that it’s flying off the shelves. There is also a huge, safely covered pond with enormous koi fish that delight the children. The Goat Shed restaurant is informal, with a range of dishes including steaks, fabulous salads and cheese platters to enjoy with Fairview wines by the carafe. There is a children’s menu with sensible food like boerewors and mash, pan fried chicken strips with polenta triangles and treats like brownies with a scoop of ice cream.
The restaurant at Môreson, Bread & Wine, has a lovely shady courtyard with shallow ponds for older children to splash about in close by, and a play area with big cushions and toys set up in a special corner on the verandah. Children definitely have fun exploring here. The menu has a special section for Kids called “Petit a la carte” offering pizza toast, noodles, fish and chips and a healthy Pick n Mix board of cold meat, cheese and fruit. The restaurant is famous for its charcuterie so choosing cold meat platters for everyone to share is a great Banting option, although the bread is delicious too. They offer a wide variety of wines, but the Miss Molly range supports animal welfare, so if you choose one of these you’ll be drinking to a good cause.
This winery has a Boere Braai (farmer’s barbecue) at lunch times over weekends, and is a great South African style family experience. There is heaps of space for children to run around in, a sand pit, a small petting farm where they can feed the animals and on hot days there’s a gentle sprinkler for children to cool off under. Middelvlei even provides high chairs for babies, and the older children can braai their own stokbrood (stick bread) and marshmallows.
The way it works is that you get a picnic basket with snoek pâté, potbrood and preserves for starters. Next, plates with braaied chops, boerewors (sausage), sosaties (kebabs) and pumpkin fritters are brought to the table, and the adults can relax and enjoy the rich red wines from the estate. To round it off, there is malva pudding and coffee. This is traditional farm fare, informal and delicious.
Van Loveren Family Vineyards, Robertson
There are lovely gardens at Van Loveren, with giant old trees, a water feature and twisty paths for kids to explore. There are walks on the estate that are suitable for all ages, and children will enjoy crossing the drift over the Breede River. The bistro, Christina’s, is very family oriented and specializes in thin base wood-fired pizzas and gourmet burgers. There is a range of tastings, including one for the very littlies that comprises red and white grape juice and jelly tots! The staff are friendly and welcoming, so if you are out here swing by.
Cape Point Vineyards, Noordhoek
Cape Point is best known for picnics and the community market on Thursday evenings. Moms all bring children to the market, where there are delicious food stalls and a great vibe, but loads of people means you need to keep an eye on toddlers. Their afternoon picnics are perfect for families, and children can play on the lawns and on the jungle gyms and swings. There is a gourmet picnic which comes in a vegetarian version too, and kids get their own picnic hamper with chicken drumstick, mac and cheese, fresh fruit, fruit juice and old-fashioned fudge. And all of this comes with one of the greatest views in the Cape, and really good wine … perfect!
Children of all ages will fall in love with the Indian runner ducks that are in charge of hunting snails in the vineyards. The duck parade as hundreds of ducks march out to work in the morning, and return in the late afternoon is a delight. You can see the duck pens and the breeding rooms and at the right time of year, hold a baby duckling. Adults can taste wine in the manor house, and then hire a boule set and have a game on one of the six boule courts in the garden. Stay for lunch in the Pomegranate Restaurant, which has a splendid view of Table Mountain, and don’t forget to take home a bottle from their great value Runner Duck wine range.
This estate totally gets children, and they do a brilliant picnic. There are impressive jungle gyms and a shallow water feature which is perfect for kids to paddle and splash about. There are rolling lawns for running about while mom and dad chill out under bright green umbrellas with a bottle of the crisp Professor Black sauvignon blanc or the newly introduced rosé, the Pink Lady. While adults enjoy the gourmet picnic, kids can have their own box, filled with empanadas, fresh fruit, tomato & cheddar salad, wine gums and apple juice.
Mums tell us:
Somerbosch in Stellenbosch, Allée Bleue in Franschhoek and Bon Courage in Robertson are all super child friendly with play areas, kiddies menus and happy attitudes. We haven’t managed to visit them yet, but they are on our list!
Wherever you go in the winelands, we hope you enjoy sharing the experience with your family… and take great care to bring everyone back home safely!