Babylonstoren in Franschhoek, which opened its doors to the public in 2010, has become the current most popular and well-known wine farm in Cape Town (sorry Spier). The farm’s first owner, Pieter van der Byl, was inspired by a koppie (rocky hill) on the farm to name it after the biblical tower of Babel.  Only 7 years later did Kerry (being so far beyond local fads and trends) and friends finally find their way to this delightful spot. Wine farms in Franschhoek tend to become a bit ubiquitous to a Cape Townian after one’s first full wedding season. The views of mountains and rolling vineyards are spectacular, there is plenty of delicious wine and the food is always on-point in various stages of deconstruction. Why Babylonstoren stands out is its magical garden, inspired by the Company Garden’s in Cape Town which was a fruit and vegetable garden supplying the passing ships with fresh food in the 1600s. There are more than 300 varieties of plants in Babylonstoren that are either edible or have medicinal value from prickly pears, to blood oranges, mushrooms and asparagus.

Beautiful scenic views at Babylonstoren

We had a relatively average lunch at one of the two restaurants, Greenhouse, which only served as a prelude to the main event which was over an hour of wondering around the garden. Swinging on swings, posing-but-not-posing next to prickly pears and in big adult-size nests. There were some kids playing in the nests when I got there and so, after some negotiation, their mother instructed me to speak to them in Afrikaans (and got the shock of her life when I could). The kids promptly vacated the nests so I could snap my pics. How else do I prove that I was there?

Nesting at Babylonstoren

Bablyonstoren is like the Kirstenbosch gardens for the northern suburbs except they don’t allow picnics, shame!

Tips

  • Entry fee is R20 for adults (R10 for kids). Pay cash at the gate or a card inside.
  • The garden is open every day from 9h00-17h00 (last entry at 16h00).
  • The garden tours are 10am-11:30am every day (booking in advance essential).
  • No picnics so a meal can be had at the fancy restaurant, Babel, booking required or at the more casual restaurant, Greenhouse (first-come-first serve). We easily found a table at the Greenhosue but if you go a peak lunch time (1pm) expect to wait.
  • Babylonstoren is on the R45 which is just off the N1 and takes just under an hour to get there from Cape Town.
  • There is wine-tasting and a host of other activities from cellar tours to tea-healing rituals. Check out the website: babylonstoren.com for more.
  • Super kid friendly, yay friends with kids!
  • Hike the koppie which inspired the name of Babylonstoren for a beautiful view of the farm.
Outside Babel restaurant

History

Simon van der Stel, the then Governor of the Cape, allocated the Babylonstoren farm to burgher Pieter van der Byl in 1692. Prior to that, nomadic Khoisan communities had inhabited the area. Some of the farm’s earliest structures from then remain on the farm. There are the typical white Cape Dutch farm architecture buildings. The long history and various farm owners is also on the website. The current owners (Karen Roos and Koos Bekker) acquired Babylonstoren in 2007 and proceeded to restore the structures, converting a cow shed into a restaurant and created the garden which is the signature piece of the farm.