Franschhoek on its own is one of South Africa’s top wine destinations,
so if you’re located here, you’re already on to a win. However, it’s not
enough to just benefit from the location, one has to stand out and be
I don’t want to use the word charming, let me be a little more liberal and say ‘bleedin’ marvellous’. Holden Manz sets itself apart in the valley by being possibly one of most stylish, yet personable boutique wineries around.
The estate itself houses a guest house and spa, an intimate tasting room and a stunning restaurant with views of the vineyards and mountains. The owners, Gerald Holden and Migo Manz, are keen art lovers and so there is a strong art theme that permeates every inch of the estate.
In the name of wine, I spent the day at Holden Manz to find out what they offer and why you should be spending more time there.
Let me introduce you to your new favorite haunt.
The Wine tasting:
the most obvious reason to visit a wine farm. The tasting consisted of 6 wines each distinctively packaged, skillfully described, and then proficiently ascribed an ideal food pairing.
Rosé - Their Rosé is made from all four red grape varietals grown on the farm (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz and Cabernet Franc) so it’s not your average floral-nosed, almost sweet, Rose. It’s got depth and it has a dry, crisp finish that is evenly matched with acidity.
Vernissage – is a French word that literally means ‘to open’ and it used to describe reveal of an artist collection for the first time.
Merlot 2010 – Ripe fruit on the nose and a hint of mint, the fruit tannins are ripe, rich and full offering a satisfying breadth to the mid palate, culminating in a great follow through of sweet fruit leading to a long finish.
Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 – It’s a pretty big wine with flavours of black cherry and a full dry finish. It is suggested that one should pair it with Five-spice roasted duck breast with smoked mashed potatoes – I wouldn’t be complaining.
Shiraz 2010 - A combination of juicy cherries and spicy cloves supported by strong wood tannins - do it justice with roast chicken and all the homely trimmings.
Big G 2009 – A blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and 50% Cabernet Franc, this flagship wine is a giant with an explosion of forest berries and sort ripe tannins. It brings subtle chocolate aromas on the nose and you can even pick up a slight English toffee smell. It has serious aging potential.
The tasting is R30 pp
The Wine Maker
It is a rare occasion to be treated to a cellar tour and tasting around the time of harvest, even if Holden Manz do only start at the end of February. But upon visiting the estate, expect to have your every wine question answered with enthusiasm by Schalk Opperman, their award winning winemaker.
He is naturally confident but insists that he is still learning more about wine day-by-day and that further increases his passion. It wasn’t enough to tell us of the exciting developments in his cellar, he had to show us.
Due for release in April, Holden Manz have tried their hand at a Chardonnay, prompted by the need for white wines at functions and weddings and for those flavorful, rich dishes, that Chardonnay pairs so well with. It’s going to be a firm favorite.
The Franschhoek Kitchen has a beautiful simplicity about it behind its elegance and lush décor. As a venue by itself it is stunning. Rich purples, crystal chandeliers mixed with industrial trimmings and natural finishes. Not much is needed to be added for this space to host a wedding. Having artistic owners has definitely been an aid.
It’s not all about style though, the estate grows a lot of their produce on sight, befitting their eco-friendly and sustainable principle of ‘tread lightly’, a cause close to Gerard and Migo’s hearts.
There is an acute attention to flavor and seasonal cooking and the results are in the pudding.
Masterchef Australia once featured a ‘Desert island’ challenge on one of their episodes which worked along the premise of you cooking a dish that you could eat non-stop. If there was to be one meal that I had to consume daily, it would be the Holden Manz Portuguese spiced Squid with lychee and rocket salad, sweet chili jam and a green garlic aioli. That is a dish that should be a banner for Franschhoek cooking.
For those who want a leisurely, nature-inspired lunch, they do picnics which you can pick up and take to any one of their 30 beautiful picnic spots.
Valentine's Day at Holden Manz
Make Valentine’s Day the highlight of your social calendar and add extra romance to the day with a special Valentine’s package for two at Holden Manz that includes a picnic lunch, dinner at the Franschhoek Kitchen and a stay at the grand Holden Manz Country House.
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