Just outside of Cape Town, the small town of Paarl is home to some of the most underrated of the Cape’s wineries. Surrounded by the pearlescent mountains it takes its name from, as well as the vineyards it’s gaining a name for, this little oasis of civilisation forms the central hub of what’s become known as South Africa’s ‘Winelands’. A charming jumble of colonial villas, oak-lined streets and vistas that extend over the Berg River, here we explore the best of the sun-spoilt Paarl wine route. From tasting rooms and vineyard tours to rustic and refined dining, these are the destinations that every wine lover should visit, all within easy reach of the award-winning Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa.
The first carbon-neutral wine estate in South Africa, Backsberg is known for its gorgeous rose garden and maze, as well as more obviously for its red blends and citrusy chardonnay. Visit the onsite restaurant if you fancy pairing the delicious wines with some local fare.
Reduce your carbon footprint by boarding the goat wagon from Paarl to Fairview, where the vines have been growing since 1699. The goats aren’t just a gimmick either, with the fluffy animals roaming the 300-hectare farm and sitting proudly on the bottled wine labels. Alongside wine tasting, visitors love to visit the Mediterranean-style eatery, where home-baked breads and bagels complement the dozens of cheese on offer.
The oldest estate in the Paarl region, Klein Parys is the property of renowned winemaker Kosie Möller, who travels all over the world in order to improve his much celebrated merlots and chardonnay. All of which you can taste for yourself, accompanied by the cheeses, olives and breads at the deli. Alternatively, enjoy an al fresco picnic beneath the broad oaks that overlook the mountain range.
Located at the foot of Simonsberg’s peaks, Noble Hill is a multitalented estate that doesn’t just create austere whites and reds but hand-harvested olive oil, too. Visitors drop in to sample the liquid delights of the restaurant, which serves home-grown Mexican street food, and supplies vast picnic baskets full of local goodies as well.
Popular with both visiting oenophiles and the local winemakers that entertain them, the trendy, modern Terra Mare offers generously portioned steak and seafood options that range from spicy calamari with chorizo, to ostrich fan fillet with truffle mash.
Hearty classics abound with a few surprises thrown in (such as sirloin glazed in ‘monkey gland’ sauce) at Bertus Basson, one of the most popular restaurants at Spice Route – a local wonderland of eateries. Often taking European dishes and giving each a cheeky African tweak, the results are certainly memorable.
Slick and masterful, Noop’s cellar reads like a who’s who of the South African wine world. Yet giving it a good run for its money is the menu, which contains references to Saldanha Bay mussels steamed in chardonnay and garlic, as well as herb-encrusted rumps of Karoo lamb.
Poised above the Atlantic Ocean, Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa is a great base from which visitors can make forays into South Africa’s acclaimed wine estates.
Image Credits: Panoramic View © iStock/jaap-willem. Goats © Fairview Estate. Dawn © iStock/DaleBHalbur. Landscapes of South African Wineries © iStock/piccaya. Fresh Bread in the Winelands © iStock/wanderluster. Idyllic Scene © iStock/RapidEye. Grapes © iStock/vladakela.