Franschhoek is a broad river valley situated 75km from Cape Town and is the home of Paserene and the Nest. We have explored how Tulbagh and Elgin are weaved into the Paserene tapestry, now let’s take a closer look at what makes Franschhoek special.

The valley was allocated to French Huguenots settlers in 1688 after they were forced to leave France when King Louis XIV banned Protestantism. The 300 settlers were highly skilled and brought with them their detailed knowledge of winemaking. As they settled the area became known as Franschhoek, Dutch for French corner. They set about laying out vineyards that planted the seed for the valley to become one of the most famous wine regions of South Africa, not to mention the world. Interestingly, the first farms were named after some of the French regions the settlers were originally from, many of which still exist and retain these names.

Franschhoek is a river valley bordered by the Wemmershoek mountains to the north, creating a barrier to the Breede River Valley, with the Groot Drakenstein and Franschhoek mountains to the south. The southern mountains shield the valley from the oceanic influence creating a warm continental climate that is moderated by cool air being trapped by the collection of tall peaks. Use of vineyard aspect, foliage management, and making the most of shadows from the mountains is essential to ensure the grape bunches are protected and ripen at an appropriate pace that creates fully ripe fruit. The soils are mostly alluvial sandstone with some granite on the mountain slopes and heavier soils toward the Berg River, that originate in the Drakenstein mountain. The sandy soils have low water retention, as a result, irrigation is used in the valley.

The valley is ideal for producing full-bodied fruit-forward wines where Paserene grows Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah and Chardonnay. Winemaker Martin Smith can create skilful blends that integrate diverse characters of the three wine regions in which Paserene grow grapes. The Emerald is a 50/50 Sauvignon Blanc blend of cooler climate Elgin and the fruit-forward Franschhoek, while the Dark is a three-way blend of Syrah from cooler Elgin, moderate Franschhoek and hot Tulbagh. The Bright is a Chardonnay that is mostly from Franschhoek with a small amount from Elgin and Tulbagh to add fineness.

Picturesque Franschhoek Valley is home to Paserene’s tasting lounge, the Nest, with striking architecture and location that create a space where you feel you have arrived. It offers the perfect opportunity to explore the handcrafted wines that create a moment in time that will never be forgotten.