Wine Country, Franschloek, Day 32-We slept in this morning and were the last ones to breakfast. Pete had the full house and I had poached eggs, toast and bacon.
Silly Americans, we didn’t think to ask if the wineries, or as the South Aricans call them, wine farms, would be open on Sunday. After all, the Capetonians drive out here to drink and eat during the weekends, why would they be closed? Well most of them are, as are many of the restaurants, just like Cape Town. Our hostess, Susan was so kind as to ferret out some rogue wineries that open on Sunday and are worth a visit. Map in hand we chose Glenwood as our first wine destination. This is a small gem of a vineyard accessible by dirt road. Charming tasting room, gorgeous views (as you can see from the featured photo), and excellent Chardonnay, Merlot-Shiraz blend and Syrah. There were 6 wines to taste. It was a pity to take a few sips and pour the rest out, but at 11 am we felt we really must be careful and pace ourselves.
Next on the list was La Petite Ferme located south of Franschloek just before the mountain passes. This winery is the complete opposite of peaceful Glenwood. Think tour bus, kids running, car park attendant and people snapping photos everywhere. This is a large, well developed facility that serves meals, has lodging and requires guests to purchase full glasses of wine. Pete had orange juice as the designated driver and we ordered a Lebonese starter tray to keep some food on our stomachs. I had a flute of bubbly rosé that was delicious. Again spectacular views in every direction.
We turned around and headed north to Paarl just to take a look at more of the wine country. The town has more Dutch architecture than the other towns and cities we’ve seen so far. Just couldn’t bring ourselves to drink more wine, definitely not use to daytime alcohol. All we wanted to do was take a nap, so we drove back to Gooding Groves to rest up for our big evening out at the French Connection Bistro in Franschloek. When we arrived yesterday, Susan asked if we had dinner reservations for both evenings we would be here. We told her we had made Saturday reservations at Ryan’s and she rushed off to call around to get us in for dinner at one of her favorite places this evening. Evidently between all the Cape visitors, tourists and closed restaurants prior reservations are a must. So, thank you, Susan!
One of the things that has really bothered us are the deplorable conditions and wages of most of the farm workers, restaurant help and other people of colour. In Franshoeck workers are paid maybe 100 Rand/day. This amount is hardly enough to buy a meal, let alone support a family. Workers are expected to bus or walk to work. This effectively reduces an already ridiculously low wage or they are tired and less productive from walking miles to work. This is all taking place while owners are charging 120 to 600 Rand for a meal, 1500 to 4000 Rand for a nights accommodation or 100 to 600 Rand for a bottle of wine. Plus there is no pension and workers are laid off during the slow season with no income at all, sometimes for as long as 6 months. The only safety net is if a farm worker has been employed at least 10 years on the same farm and turns 60, he or she is then allowed to stay on the land forever. Even though the wineries ‘Dop’system of paying workers in wine was legally abolished in 1994, the result is generations of farm workers addicted to alcohol. Fetal alcohol syndrome is one of the highest in the world at 11%. It is pressure and questions from tourists and the outside world that has and will continue to force change for people of colour in South Africa.
Back to more pleasant subjects, dinner at the French Connection was excellent.