Franschhoek is known as South Africa’s food and wine capital, and for very good reason.
One of the main highlights of this quaint artisanal town is the Wine Tram, a must for oenophiles who want to experience the sheer variety of wine that this terroir has to offer.
We have created an insightful guide into what you can expect from the Franschhoek Wine Tram and Paserene.
How does the Wine Tram work?
It is split into separate colour-coded lines: red, yellow, blue, green, pink, grey, purple, and orange.
You can also choose from a Curated Wine Experience and an Exclusive Wine And Cuisine Experience, which are offered by a select few wine farms.
Each line departs from the Wine Tram’s central location in the village. You can easily walk to the ticket desk with your reservation and receive a ticket, brochure, and a Franschhoek Wine Tram Map.
The Wine Tram uses trams, busses, and vans as transport, but you will have the option to enjoy the quirkiness of the actual tram at least once on your journey.
Each stop lasts for an hour, which is plenty of time to enjoy a tasting, but if you want to explore the vineyard, eat lunch, or do a food and wine pairing, you may want to stay for longer.
The pink and grey lines do offer a pick up and drop off service every 30 minutes, so be sure not to miss these if you want to make the most of the day.
While Franschhoek wine is some of the best in the country and you probably want to try as much as possible, it is advisable to choose three or four wine farms to enjoy the day at a more leisurely pace.
What is special about the Franschhoek Wine Tram?
The Wine Tram has a long history, with the line itself originally built in 1904 to help farmers move their produce to the markets.
For several years, steam locomotives used the tracks until their diesel counterparts took over from the 1970s until the 1990s, when the need for transport via trains and trams decreased.
The line remained unused until 2012, when it was revived and returned to full-time service as the inimitable Franschhoek Wine Tram. Now, anyone can experience the wine scene without the need for a designated driver who will miss out on the fun.
If you purchase wine bottles from any of the wine farms, the host of the wine tram will label the bottle and keep it in storage until the end of the day when you can easily collect it.
When purchasing a Wine Tram tote bag, you will receive a discount card to use at participating wine farms, and the proceeds are given to the charity that makes the bags.
The tram lines include estates that are relatively new to the wine-making industry. You might even find your new favourite daily sipper here!
The Franschhoek Wine Tram Red Line and Yellow Line are where you can hop off at Paserene. We are at stops five and nine on these lines respectively, so be sure to plan your day accordingly.
During the warmer weather, our manicured garden surrounding our tasting room is truly something to behold, making for a magical day out tasting award-winning wines.
Hop-On-Hop-Off or Curated Experience?
Choosing a hop-on-hop-off or curated experience depends on what you want from the day.
A Hop-On-Hop-Off Experience is the most popular wine tram option, because it allows you to stop off at multiple wine farms throughout the day.
Take a cellar tour or two, have a wine tasting and platter at a few of the stops, or simply stroll through the vineyard and enjoy the scenery.
You are also able to choose how long you spend at each spot (keeping to the schedule, of course) and what activities you take part in.
Some tram lines offer pick up and drop off every 30 to 35 minutes, while others offer hour long experiences.
A Curated Experience is designed for the true wine lovers who want to discover all Franschhoek has to offer.
You will be accompanied by a knowledgeable wine guide to a selection of wine farms for exclusive tastings and pairings, a cellar and vineyard tour, and a gourmet three-course lunch at one of the estates.
Learn about the different grape varieties, cultivars, and unique viticulture tidbits that are inherent to South Africa. There are only 12 seats available for these experiences, so be sure to book well ahead of time.
You will return to Franschhoek by 5pm, leaving plenty of time for you to have dinner at one of the many restaurants dotted around town.
A day on the Red Line with Paserene
The Franschhoek Wine Tram Red Line starts with a bus trip from the terminal, and winds its way through the scenic Franschhoek valley.
You will arrive at Paserene by 10:15am, which is the perfect time to walk around our grounds and explore our gardens before a tasting.
Then, make your way to The Paserene Nest, our stunning tasting lounge, and sip leisurely on some of our wines.
Our sommelier will guide you through the tasting with his expertise and intimate knowledge of the Paserene wines.
The Elements Range is our more playful, lighthearted range and this tasting includes the Rosie, the Bright, the Emerald, and the Dark. It is perfect for wine novices or if you prefer a tasting that is more laid back.
The Paserene Range is for the true wine gourmand; try our Shiner White, the Union (chosen by Robert Parker as one of the Top 100 Wine Discoveries in South Africa for 2020), the Chardonnay, and the Marathon (which received a 5 star rating in the 2021 John Platter Guide).
We have a small plate selection which includes honeycomb from our farm in Tulbagh, moreish locally-sourced salted olives, and bespoke charcuterie options.
Create your own tasting platter or order one already curated for the ideal wine drinking accompaniment.
Foodie Highlights in Franschhoek
Tasting wine and experiencing the wine tram in Franschhoek is certainly a highlight of this historic town, but there is a food culture and restaurant scene that is worth exploring.
Start with breakfast at the popular Big Dog Café, the restaurant of Terbodore Coffee. Their menu includes delicious creations such as PB&J Waffles (vegan friendly) and exotic Levantine eggs, to start your day off on the right foot.
For a truly luxurious experience, Reuben’s in Franschhoek will not disappoint, being owned and run by leading South African chef Reuben Riffel. With dishes like duck confit and rich risottos on the menu, it is sure to surprise and delight all palates.
Protégé is a mixture of casual and fine-dining, and the menu certainly delivers. After a day out on the Wine Tram, why not end your day with a unique meal like creamy cauliflower risotto and Malay crayfish or smoky Springbok loin with Jerusalem artichokes.
To create your own lunch to pair with the wine you bought, you will find plenty of delis in town to choose from, each with their own unique offerings. Choose between authentic French-style cheeses and locally-made preserves, or opt for gourmet options from the local market every Saturday.
Advice for the perfect day out
We have some helpful advice for the perfect Franschhoek Wine Tram experience.
- Book tickets ahead of time: The Wine Tram is an extremely popular activity in Franschhoek. Booking your tickets ahead of time will ensure you have the resources to enjoy the food and wine along the way.
- Make an early start: Depending on the tram line you have chosen, it is best to arrive early at the starting point. Some of the wine farms take a while to reach, and not arriving on time might mean missing out on one you were interested in.
- Pre-book your meals: Wine farms can become extremely busy, especially during peak periods, and pre-booking will ensure you have a table to eat at. Pair your meals to the wines you have been drinking for added enjoyment.
- Do your research: Research and choose some favourite wine farms ahead of time, so you can decide on the best Franschhoek Wine Tram line for your ideal day out, spending more time at the farms you have carefully chosen and less time at those you are not familiar with.
- Have a budget: Remember that the tastings and meals are not included in the price of the ticket, so you will need to factor in these costs. The Paserene platter is affordable and has something for everyone to enjoy with their wine – the perfect fit for any budget.
Authentic. Creative. Unique
The Franschhoek Wine Tram allows you to immerse yourself in the wine culture of the town and with the right planning, it can be a fantastic day out.
A hop-on-hop-off experience is perfect for whetting the appetite for wine novices, whereas a curated experience allows true enthusiasts to explore select wine farms and vintages.
For the foodies, there are plenty of gourmet restaurants to visit and at Paserene, our platter for two is the ideal option for a light meal (or if you keep it for yourself, a sumptuous feast for one!).
Being on time for the pickups and drop offs is essential, so you do not miss the next stop on your line. Check if the wine farms offer cellar tours at specific times so you can time your visit for those tours.
Our luxury wines will certainly be the highlight of any Wine Tram adventure. We create each bottle with a focus on authenticity, creativity, and uniqueness so that every sip creates a moment, frozen in time.
Create your own memories with Paserene’s range of delicious wines. Purchase a bottle online today, or from our wine farm during your Wine Tram adventure.