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So you have a young family and with summer approaching, you really want to get out on weekends for some family fun, but your idea is not to go to the nearest shopping mall or fast-food outlet.

You want to go somewhere where you can enjoy a decent glass of wine and some healthy and delicious food options. A place where you can have a relaxed conversation with your partner while you don’t have to worry about the kids disrupting everyone else around you or disappearing some place unsafe.

Let’s list the requirements of such a place:

  • Not too far away from home
  • Somewhere beautiful
  • A relaxing environment
  • Good wine
  • Good food
  • A children’s menu
  • Value for money
  • Some shopping
  • Outside options in good weather
  • Inside options when it is cold
  • Entertainment for kids
  • Friendly service
  • Neat restrooms and baby changing facilities
  • Ample parking

Quite a tall order!

If you live in and around Cape Town, you are in luck.

  • You can take the family to one of the many morning markets where there are always something delicious to nibble on and you can even do your grocery shopping for the week ahead – stock up on fresh vegetables, artisan cheeses and breads and there might even be a stand selling glasses of bubbly to get you in a weekend mood! While many of these markets also offer some entertainment for children, kids do get tired while you shop though and it is quite a job keeping your eyes on them between all the stalls and shoppers. Facilities are usually also limited, so pack the wet wipes and be prepared to rough it!
The Laborie Morning Market in Paarl

The Laborie Morning Market in Paarl Picture source

  • You can go to the beach. This outing is of course weather dependent and seasonal and while it can be a lot of fun for kids – keeping enough sunscreen on all the tender skins, ensuring the family stays together between a magnitude of umbrellas and blue cooler bags and most importantly ensuring the ocean is treated with the respect it deserves, the beach might not be the most relaxing option for parents. Especially not if you have to keep your tummy tight and ensuring a sand-free towel at the same time…
Keeping up with the kids

Keeping up with the kids Picture source

  • So the next option, the Winelands. While there is no denying the beauty of the natural environment and the charm of many of the estates – whether they are historic Cape Dutch in character or modernistic in style – a wine estate can be a wonderful day out or a nightmare if there are no cooldrinks between the Chardonnay and Cabernet, if children’s menu options extend to brie on brioche and if cultured wine drinkers display their disdain for yells and shrieks disturbing their formal wine tasting experience.

But with wine tourism in South Africa being just about the best-developed industry of its kind in the world, many wine estates nowadays offer family-friendly entertainment. While the traditional tasting room with its cultured environment and library-like peace and quiet still has its place, for families with young kids, there are some really good alternatives.

One of these, ticking all the boxes in our list of requirements above, is Leopard’s Leap Family Vineyards in the beautiful Franschhoek Valley.

Less than an hour’s drive from Cape Town, the estate is situated conveniently next to the R45 just before Franschhoek. The design is modern and approachable with a wide stoep and stretching lawns, making it the ideal place for extended summer lunches. On rainy days the stoep closes up and the fireplaces are lit to ensure there is not a cold or wet kid in sight.

Informal and relaxed at Leopard's Leap

Wide stoep for informal relaxation at Leopard’s Leap Family Vineyards

The wide range of Leopard’s Leap wines is available – both to taste in a spacious wine tasting room and to enjoy at a table in the restaurant or on the stoep – and that at cellar door prices. The added bonus is that you can do your wine shopping at the same time and with a wide variety at affordable prices, just buying your wine from the source will make the outing worth your while.

Tasting room

Tasting room

And we all know that women do not really enjoy a weekend if it does not include shopping of some kind…  A lovely shop with gifts, all kinds of things culinary and cookery and a corner with a beautiful selection of cookbooks will definitely add some delight to your visit.

Weekend Shopping

Weekend Shopping

While we can try to live off wine alone, it is not wise, so indulge in a delicious and informal lunch offering of succulent meats done to perfection on a state-of-the-art rotisserie – expect juicy chickens, tender pork belly with crisp crackling, fall-of-the-bone lamb neck and the tenderest of beef. Complementing the selection of meats is a harvest table filled with salads, side dishes and breads where you can serve yourself to heart’s content.

With a special selection of children options – think macaroni and cheese, chicken nuggets, ribs, burgers and toasted sandwiches and of course cool drinks and freshly prepared juices and cordials – no one should leave on an empty stomach. All the dishes are made with the freshest of ingredients and include vegetables and herbs from a biological garden a stone’s throw from the kitchen, so no worries about processed and unhealthy bites that cause hyperactive kids to try and keep in check!

Relaxed lunch

Relaxed lunch

A decadent dessert buffet might, however, be a temptation too hard to resist. Classics like marshmallow squares, cupcakes and chocolate brownies as well as chef-inspired tartlets and mini cheesecakes can be enjoyed there and then or be packed for the road back home.

Decadent desserts2

While all of this sounds lovely, there are many restaurants with innovative food offerings and plenty a wine tasting room, so why would Leopard’s Leap Family Vineyard be so special? This place is all about a relaxing space – stylish and beautiful – but informal and the perfect wind-down after a tough week.

The wide-open lawn with children’s play park sees kids pack away their tablets and aiming for the out-doors. While enjoying your meal, glass of wine or one of the innovative wine cocktails on the stoep, you can keep an eye on your life’s treasures playing and enjoying themselves and you can almost be guaranteed of a tired and happy child ready for an early night when you get back home.

family fun

Keeping kids busy

The Rotisserie at Leopard’s Leap Family Vineyards is open from Wednesday to Sundays from 11:30 – 15:00 while the wine tasting room is open from Tuesdays to Saturdays 09:00 – 17:00 and Sundays from 11:00 – 17:00.

To reserve your table, e-mail

For more information or reservations, please visit or call 021 876 8002.

Leopard’s Leap Family Vineyards is situated on the R45, Main Road, Franschhoek.

GPS co-ordinates: Latitude 33° 52’58.8″ Longitude 19°04’50″

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