For the holidaymaker based in Cape Town with a day free to visit the Winelands, what should the destination be: Riebeek-Kasteel or Franschhoek? They’re both an hour away (15 minutes by helicopter) and have competing charms. The King of Luxury Johann Rupert owns serious property in both. We compare the two villages on ten essential wine tourism criteria and not the minutiae of organizations like Great Wine Capitals which seems to be a dinner club for fat bureaucrats on a freebee.
1. Cheese: FH is home to Lodine Maske, queen of kaas and her La Cotte outlet is cheese heaven. No SA cheeses stocked. Winner: FH
2. Radio personalities: Alan Barnard is the mellifulous Voice of RK while the FH will unfortunately always be associated with John Matham who spectacularly destroyed the FH Winewriter of the Year Award. Winner: RK
3. Celebrity winemaker: FH has Marc Kent, a member of the CWG and former Diners Club Winemaker of the Year with an “ambition” haircut straight out of Pyongyang. RK has Eben Sadie. Winner: RK
4. Co-op: FH has the Franschhoek Winery owned by DGB. RK has Riebeek Cellars. Winner: RK
5. Art: FH has Pieneef at La Motte and modernist Trent Reed now runs the gallery at Grande Provence. RK has Solly Smook. Winner: FH
6. Food: FH has Margot Janse at Le Quartier Francais. RK has Julien Debray at Kasteelberg Bistro. Winner: FH by a short head.
7. Festivals: FH has Bastille Day. RK has the Swartland Revolution. Winner: FH
8. Prisons: FH has Victor Verster which was home to Nelson Mandela. RK has Malmesbury Medium A anxiously awaiting Shrien Dewani if convicted. Winner: RK on potential.
9. Authenticy: FH was settled in 1688. RK was opened up for farming by Pieter Cruythoff in 1661. Winner: RK
10. Value for money: Franschhoek has some of the ritziest boutique hotels in SA including the best one in the world, La Residence, according to Conde Nast. As this poll is aimed at tourists who pay their own way, the winner is RK whose 1881 Shiraz Guest House is awesome.
So by a narrow margin of 6:4 the trophy goes to Riebeek-Kasteel as a result of understated authenticity and unbeatable value for money.