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Aptly named after the Afrikaans word for ‘pearl’, the town of Paarl is undoubtedly one of the many jewels of South Africa’s Western Cape. Nestled among acres of seemingly endless winelands, its location along the prolific self-drive tourist route R62, and its convenient proximity to Cape Town makes a stop in this town a necessary addition to any worthwhile itinerary exploring the area.
But that’s not all: the Cape Winelands is a proverbial melting pot of flavour and fun. Numerous wine farms, estates, and all sorts of other points of interest showcase the gastronomic and viticultural talent that the region has become known for. As resident Capetonians ourselves, we’ve become regulars to this gem located just over an hour from our head offices in the Mother City. Allow us to lead you on a Taster Tour through the Paarl Winelands where your taste buds are sure to be left tantalised:
Located on one of the oldest Cape Dutch farms in the region, Babylonstoren has its roots extending as far back as 1692. Today it’s 3.5-hectare gardens provide its restaurants, Babel (located in a modern and restored cow shed) and the Greenhouse (located in its namesake), with fresh fruit and vegetables for its table. Visitors can also enjoy garden tours and workshops from the estate’s resident green-thumbed horticulturists themselves.
The garden is undoubtedly the theme of this place, whether you’re gazing through the Greenhouse windows to the dappled sunlight outside or languishing in the ‘living spa’ found in a bamboo forest and framed by gently trickling water channels. And after all of this? Simply amble about and marvel in wonder at the veritable Eden surrounding you.
The Spice Route:
A self-declared ‘sensory journey of discovery for the modern-day explorer’, the Spice Route offers a dizzying array of diversions for all to enjoy, whether you’re a group of friends exploring the area, a couple on a day out, or a family with two excitable kids in tow. A full day is definitely in need to enjoy all that the Spice Route has to offer. It is found in the winelands, so, naturally, wine tasting is most certainly on offer, but why not also sample craft beer at the Wilderer Distillery or enjoy a beer and biltong pairing at the Barley & Biltong Beer Garden?
Artisan chocolate can be bought from the Spice Route’s studio, decadent tapas and pizza can be munched on at La Grapperia, or those in search of a truly South African meal can enjoy lunch at Bertus Basson’s restaurant. There’s even a kids play area, art gallery, and Venetian-style glassblowing factory, as well as a cafe and deli allowing visitors to take a bit of Paarl home with them!
Many may think that the Paarl Wine Route is all about wine—but they would be mistaken! At Fairview Wine & Cheese Estate, cheese is the chosen morsel of the day with its range of over 20 different artisanal cheeses that have become famous nationwide. That being said, Fairview wine is the perfect accompaniment to Fairview cheese – so why not enjoy a carefully chosen pairing while in the Tasting Room? Don’t forget a photo op at the estate’s unique goat tower which has sparked a worldwide trend, with numerous copies popping up all across the globe.
Fairview is not home to one, but two tasting rooms: the Main Tasting Room housing numerous unique pods around which visitors cluster to learn about the wine and cheese, and the slightly more formal (but just as refined) Beryl Back Master Tasting Room. There is also an extensive shop and deli allowing visitors to take all their favourites of the day home with them, as well as the popular Goatshed Restaurant, dishing up only the freshest fare with ingredients for their dishes coming from Fairview itself and surrounding farms.
Val de Vie:
Apart from its award-winning wines, Val de Vie’s manicured estate also boasts polo grounds, a polo club, all-weather arena, tennis academy, and swimming club. Throughout the year, the estate is home to high-profile events attracting the creme-de-la-creme of the South African sporting and social scene. The onsite Health Club even boasts a swimming academy led by a South African gold medallist Olympic swimmer – how’s that for learning from the best?
Val de Vie’s Polo Club Restaurant offer an array of experiences to suit every palate, from its flagship tastings and pairings, to its home-cooked meals, special events, and chef nights that happen throughout the year. Here, visitors can meet new people and get personally acquainted with the Polo Club’s chef.
Rhebokskloof Wine Estate:
Thanks to its unusual location between the lush Paarl valley and the stark granite hills of Paarl Rock’s mountains, a unique microclimate has flourished on the landscape where Rhebokskloof Wine Estate is found. Aside from its world-class wines, Rhebokskloof also produces grape juice and olive oil which can be bought from the estate. For an all-encompassing experience of untold relaxation, this estate is the answer.
Enjoy pairings in its Tasting Room, sumptuous fare at its restaurant, and relaxed picnics on the manicured lawns surrounding its dam. Picnic basket options abound with menus to suit kids and those who favour banting and gluten-free meals. Parents are sure to rejoice with the estate’s trampoline, jungle gym, pony rides, and jumping castle – all guaranteed to keep little tykes entertained while their folks enjoy a well-deserved time out.
Are you ready to enjoy your own Taster Tour of the Paarl Winelands?
Let us take you there! Contact one of our trusty consultants to start planning your trip today or visit our web page to see what else this region has to offer.
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Jozi-born, Knysna local, and recovering yachtie, Melanie decided that she missed being land-based after 18 months sailing the seas. Now that she lives in the most beautiful city in Africa (she is adamant about this fact), you will find her trying out new things around Cape Town, dreaming about her next holiday, and using Wikipedia to enhance her skills as an encyclopaedia of useless information.
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