Come March the harvest is drawing to a close, but the days are still warm and autumn hasn’t touched the vines yet. This is the perfect time to gather up friends and family for a grand picnic.
The picnics offered by wineries are often gourmet fare presented in wicker baskets or stylish designer boxes, and in some cases, served at your own table.
Here are 6 of our favourite picnic offerings:
View to the end of the world picnic
At Cape Point Vineyards the view will make your heart leap and your spirits soar. The terraced lawns form a giant amphitheatre around a dam, the view looks down the valley to the white sands of Noordhoek beach, across the Atlantic Ocean to the far horizon and to either side you are embraced by vineyards and the fynbos-covered slopes of the mountain. It’s a place to soothe your soul.
Collect your wicker basket, rug and cushions, buy a bottle of wine and then find a picnic spot, either at one of the rustic tables or on the grass. Stop, sit, breathe in the view and sip their crisp and elegant sauvignon blanc. If you need shade ask for an umbrella, leave the children to amuse themselves on the jungle gyms and climbing frames, and relax. If you come in the late afternoon, you can order a snack basket of dips, cheese and nibbles and toast the view as the sun goes down.
Let your hair down picnic
If you have had enough of tight deadlines and tetchy bosses, head off to Warwick and chill out on their lawns. Warwick has a welcoming sign: “Children are encouraged to run riot until they pass out from sheer joy & exhaustion. Then it’s your turn.“ This pretty much sums it up. Pick up your gourmet picnic of locally sourced cheeses, cured meats and pâtés (including a beefy biltong pâté) pop a bottle of ice-cold and delicious First Lady unwooded chardonnay into an ice bucket and enjoy. Picnic spots are laid out on the rolling lawns under lime green umbrellas and there are outdoor dining “pods” for groups of up to 12, where you sit around a table under a curved shaded shelter while a picnic butler serves you.
There are jungle gyms and a safe splash pool area for children when they are tired of running on the lawns.
You definitely need to book for picnics at Warwick. Choose your exact picnic spot from a map on their excellent website.
Where it all began picnic
Boschendal began the picnic trend, calling it the Le Picnique back in the 80’s when they first introduced their Le Pavillon wines, named after their pretty white Victorian style Summer Pavilion. Enjoy your basket of picnic goodies at the tables and chairs scattered around, or on rugs on the endless lawns… there is plenty of shade under the lovely old trees.
The new chef at Boschendal has upgraded the picnic menu and all the food comes from their own bakery and deli, which are housed in the buildings edging the werf in front of the manor house. The menu includes salmon rillettes, chicken liver parfait, old fashioned roast chicken with scrumptious salads, and cheese and sweet things to end with. Choose your perfect wine match from Boschendal’s wide range and you’re in picnic heaven. When you’re done and nothing but crumbs are left take a stroll through the beautifully restored manor house and farm buildings, some of which date back to the late 1600s.
Spier offers a choice of picnic baskets, but if you have fussy eaters in your family, or strong views on what constitutes a picnic meal, then Spier is the perfect choice. Put together your own menu in the Eight To Go Deli, where freshly baked breads and pies, cheeses, cold cuts, pâtés and salads are on sale. Lots of the ingredients are grown organically on the Spier farm, which is a fabulous example of eco-consciousness. The acres of green lawn around the dam and river provide perfect picnic spots under big oaks and indigenous trees, all with lovely views. There is loads of space for children to play, and little ones will enjoy the mobile chicken caravan near the playground. If you decide to order a pre-packed picnic, Spier offer heaps of choices: gourmet, relaxed, gluten-free, Halaal, Kosher, vegetarian and children’s versions. What more could you want?
Under the oaks picnic
At Oak Valley picnics are elegant affairs, and rather exclusive as they only book a maximum of 5 picnics a day. Sophisticated patio loungers are arranged under the beautiful old oaks (there are over 4000 oak trees on this estate, many dating back over a century) and your little table is set out with proper glasses, plates, salt and pepper grinders and olive oil. While you lie back and enjoy the tranquility, your picnic and wine is brought out from the Pool Room restaurant to you. The picnic basket is filled with local fresh produce, and the meats are cured on the farm from their own herds of grass-fed Simmentaler cattle and acorn-fed pigs. The perfect summer wine to accompany all this deliciousness is the Mountain Reserve White Blend, a sauvignon blanc blend as elegant as the picnic.
The picnic for people who don’t do picnics
Do you have a special occasion to celebrate? Or maybe you want to add a little romance to your picnic date? Then we suggest you choose “The Picnic” at Vergelegen. Imagine a table and chairs, white tablecloth, wine glasses and all the accoutrements, placed in a forest of ancient camphor trees, originally planted by Simon van der Stel in the 17th century. While you enjoy a glass of excellent Vergelegen chardonnay or sauvignon blanc, a picnic basket of luxury goodies that includes cold poached salmon with crème fraîche and panna cotta with seasonal fruits will be delivered to you at the table. Waiters will even bring you filter coffee to enjoy. We are not sure whether this splendid experience does classify as a real picnic, but it’s ideal for people who don’t like picnics, and a perfect treat for those of us who do.