Franschhoek launches wine tram

World renowned for its spectacular beauty, superb wines and world class restaurants, the Franschhoek Valley will soon boast a unique tram service running from the historic Franschhoek Village. It will stop at some of South Africa’s oldest and most renowned wine estates.

The newly constructed Franschhoek Wine Tram is loosely modeled after the open-sided Brill Trams of circa 1890 and seats approximately 30 passengers on 8 comfortable benches, 6 of which have flipped-over, tram-style seatbacks that allow passengers to enjoy the views in both directions. It is also accessable to wheelchairs.

The Franschhoek Wine Tram is friendly to the environment. It houses  a self-contained hydrostatic propulsion system that utilises the latest in bio-diesel engine technology which has reduced greenhouse gas, particulate matter, carbon monoxide  and sulphur dioxide emissions when compared to fossil fuel.

Franschhoek Valley takes pride in becoming ‘the only wine growing area in the world where wine estates can be directly accessed by tram’. The new initiative even hopes to create a Western Cape tourist ‘icon’, such as the Table Mountain Cableway or Cape Point Funicular. The tourism angle is very important for the area. The tram will be used to enhance the Franschhoek brand locally and internationally and significantly increase tourism to the Valley. At the same time the aim is to reduce traffic and provide tourists with a safe method of travel while wine tasting. But the project is not only good for tourists, it’s good for job creation and the local economy too.

The Franschhoek Valley has a long history of wine. When the Huguenots first settled in this spectacular valley over 300 years ago they bought with them their traditions and knowledge in winemaking and viticulture from their native France and transformed the wilderness around them into one of the most beautiful valleys in the world. This proud heritage can be seen and felt today in the Village and on the surrounding farms.

Franschhoek, or ‘French Corner’ was originally settled in 1688 by 176 French Huguenot refugees who had escaped religious persecution in France. Before this, the area was known by the Dutch government as Olifantshoek, or ‘Elephants Corner’, named after the elephants that roamed the valley.

Driving into Franschhoek you will notice that most of the farms still bear their original French names and are usually complete with a spectacular Cape Dutch homestead, towering oaks and rolling vineyards.

There are a variety of cellars, from small boutique wineries that cater for those in search of something unique, to large cellars that offer organised tours and conducted tastings. Award-winning wines range from plump reds to elegant whites and delicious sparkling wines.

This longstanding tradition of winemaking is a perfect complement to the excellent food that is served in any one of Franschhoek’s more than 40 restaurants. Franschhoek is known as the Wine & Gourmet Capital of South Africa and has among its truly talented chefs several who have been awarded the highest national and international culinary honors. From the innovative and delicious food, to chocolate or olive oil tastings, wine and food pairings, cooking classes, there is always something to entice the senses.

Franschhoek is also well known for its many festivals throughout the year, from the Bastille Day festival every July to the Cap Classique and Champagne Festival in December, and many more in between. Whatever time you decide to visit our beautiful valley you are sure to find something unique to do

The experience of visiting the Franschhoek Valley and enjoying all it has to offer will now be enhanced by taking a leisurely tram journey through this truly magnificent area on the Franschhoek Wine Tram. This exciting initiative builds on Franschhoek’s reputation as the Wine & Gourmet Capital of South Africa, taking the concept of a food and wine experience to an entirely new level. The tram is now test driving and will be launched later this spring.

The information in this article and the photo’s can be found on the website of the Franschhoek Wine Tram

More touristic information on the Franschhoek Valley, click here

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