Grande Provence Estate Jonkershuis. Pictures: Supplied
The hour’s drive from Cape Town to the Grande Provence Estate in Franschhoek Valley was a little stressful. It was a Friday afternoon and traffic was heavy and I was feeling ill with my temperature rising by the minute.

I’d been looking forward to the trip for a while and was determined not to allow anything to dampen my mood. Passing through the beautiful, lush wine valleys of Franschhoek is enough to brighten any mood.

We arrived at the estate within the golden hour, just as the faint yellow glow of the sun-kissed the rugged mountains and the vineyards that spread across 19 hectares. 

The Cape Dutch architecture influence is seen in all of the structures, which includes the Manor House, the Huguenot Museum and The Jonkershuis, where you can enjoy a private dining experience under a beautiful chandelier made from recycled Angel Tears bottles.

Our room, decorated in warm, cosy and earthy tones, with chocolate walls and white linen bedding, made for a welcoming and homely space. 

The room’s French doors open on to a garden. Here we enjoyed a glass of The Grande Provence Red, a full-bodied and multidimensional red-style blend, while listening to birds singing and enjoying nature’s tranquillity.

The Restaurant at the Grande Provence is open for lunch and dinner, seven days a week. The dining area was roughly a five-minute walk from our room. 

You have the option of taking a shuttle to just about anywhere on the estate or you can walk. 

A serving of hot-smoked blesbok shank, toasted coriander crunch and beetroot with a bottle of Grande Provence red wine.

Opting for the latter, we took a leisurely stroll past the vineyards and pond, breathing in the crisp and fresh air while enjoying the views of surrounding mountains.

At the restaurant, we settled in the cream high-backed chairs close to the flickering fire, which made for a romantic dinner.

We enjoyed a set menu which included: amuse bouche (a small complimentary appetiser), a palate cleanser, main and dessert. 

I had a starter of charred yellow-fin tuna with sweet fennel and garlic and local line fish with minted peas, tempura oysters, vermouth velouté and spring onion as a main.

The highlight of the dinner was enjoying the Grande Provence award-winning wines. From their sparkly methode cap classique to their chenin blanc/viognier, merlot and muscat d’Alexandrie the wines are something to talk about and so is their chic and minimalist packaging.

At this stage, I must point out I was feeling much better thanks to the fruit-flavoured dessert wine muscat d’Alexandrie.

For breakfast, we enjoyed fresh fruit salad, pastries and a bacon and cheese omelette made on request.

The breakfast area leads to a swimming pool area with lounge chairs and a Jacuzzi area beside the pool. 

Spend the morning here soaking up the sun rays or, like us, start the morning with more wine tasting at the sculpture garden.

Overall, the overnight stay at the Grande Provence Estate was top notch, the staff were helpful and accommodating with an impressive knowledge of the history of the estate, which made for great storytelling.

Grande Provence has appointed Guy Bennett as new executive chef to lead the kitchen brigade at The Restaurant of the historic Franschhoek estate.

Bennett takes over from Darren Badenhorst, who is opening his own restaurant, Le coin Français, in Franschhoek.

A seasoned chef, Bennett has worked his way up the ranks alongside some of Cape Town’s most celebrated culinary masters such as Michael Deg, Bertus Basson, Reuben Riffel and top pastry chef, André Steyn.

Working with these leading chefs from tiny boutique kitchens to busy international hotels has equipped Bennett to understand the diverse needs of his guests.

He allows the changing seasons to guide his cooking and constantly seeks fresh ways of improving what he produces.

“Cooking with passion, day after day, bouncing ideas off my mentors and watching guests enjoying our food, have made me the chef I am today,” said Bennet, who considers his appointment at Grande Provence his “biggest and brightest venture to date”.

When it comes to his own style, he is influenced by classic and modern techniques, both local and international, incorporating old and new school approaches to achieving a finished dish.

Creating food for all tastes, he includes light, fresh and rich dishes in his menu.

“I consider all the aspects that make up a good dish: sweetness, bitterness, acidity and texture,” said Bennett, who considers himself an inspiring team player.

For more information visit www.grandeprovence.co.za, Facebook.com or Twitter @grande_provence