The road from Stellenbosch to Franschhoek is evocativelyy called Helshoogte, and so it must have seemed in times gone by. Today it is a magnificent drive between the two towns and goes via Pniel and past Boschendal.
In the curve as you descend to Pniel are some of the country’s most gorgeous – and famous – wine estates. One of these is Tokara, a multi-stop destination for fine wines, a fabulous restaurant, and a deli where you can indulge in country goodies to take home. Oh, and you can eat there too.
The main building that houses the restaurant and the tasting room is perched over the vineyards with a view down the valley to distant Table Mountain, which you can see on a clear day. The building is a beautiful piece of architecture and fits perfectly into its surroundings. The artworks as you enter only add to the pleasure of going there as they are often changed.
The main restaurant is under über chef Richard Carstens who was an Eat Out Chef of the Year in 2005. Richard is well known in Cape Town food circles but since 2010 has been weaving his magic –and loving it – at Tokara’s great restaurant. His cooking takes in the best of classic French techniques while using the interesting slant that Eastern influences add.
The tasting room at Tokara is a quiet haven of luxurious comfort without being too flashy or too dour for its own good. The fabulous wines of Miles Mossop are to be tasted here as well as their superb brandy.
Miles is a member of the prestigious Cape Winemakers Guild which is only open by invitation, and is a keen surfer and fisherman, and is passionate about wine “in all its forms.” His award-winning wines are known across the world for their quality.
So indulge yourself when you have some time and the inclination to get out and about and hie yourself to Tokara – you will love it. It’s a great way to avoid cabin fever this winter. Phone ahead for reservations, as winter hours vary (see their website for contact details).
Words: Greg Landman
As the wine writer for Country Life magazine for the last 15 years, Greg has met and interviewed more than 150 of the country’s top wine makers. His articles offer unique insights into where to eat, what to drink, and where to go all over the Western Cape. With his dining companion Beryl Ormsby Browne, he has also reviewed more than 60 country restaurants for the magazine and has been a reviewer for the prestigious Eat Out Guide for 12 years. His passion for everything the winelands has to offer has led him into the world of wine tours. To find out more, visit his website Magic Grape Tours.