Paarl is one of South Africa’s most renowned wine regions, with a history of viticulture dating back to 1688 when the French Huguenots were granted land to farm in the Drakenstein area
Paarl wines are now world renowned, primarily for the quality of their Shiraz while Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinotage, Viognier and Cabernet Sauvignon are also increasingly well regarded, and the region is home to some of the Western Cape’s most influential wineries.
Less than an hour’s drive from Cape Town, the region north of Stellenbosch has earned international acclaim not only for its Paarl wines but also the breathtaking beauty of its natural surroundings. The name Paarl means ‘pearl’ and reflects the way the ancient granite mountains, which early Dutch settlers called ‘den Diamont ende Peerlbergh’ (‘the diamond and pearl mountain’), glisten in the distance.
The birth of Afrikaans as the world’s youngest language is celebrated by the iconic Afrikaans Language Monument that stands prominently on the southern slopes of Paarl Mountain. The town itself is the largest and one of the oldest European settlements in the country’s Cape Winelands – where the well preserved colonial architecture, museums and galleries give visitors a distinctly historical feel.
The birth of Afrikaans as the world’s youngest language is celebrated by the iconic Afrikaans Language Monument that stands prominently on the southern slopes of Paarl Mountain.
With around 70 producers in the Drakenstein area, the Paarl wine route, also known as Paarl Vintners, attracts international wine enthusiasts to sample some of the region’s finest exports at wineries ranging from vast co-operative cellars to traditional family-owned estates.
The sweltering, dry summers and chilled winters with generous rainfall accommodate conditions for growing a wide array of Paarl wines, including rich and robust reds that are largely made from Shiraz, Pinotage and Cabernet Sauvignon. Paarl’s white wines are typically fruit flavoured, usually from Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay, while rose, sweet dessert wines and even sparkling varieties are consistently respected on the international stage. While the region excels with Rhone varietals, including Shiraz, Grenache and Viognier, South Africa’s signature Pinotage and Chenin Blanc are equally resplendent – while respected Paarl wines also include Methode Cap Classique sparkling wines, port, sherry and brandy.
At Wine Paths, our local expert can organise exclusive tours of the region, including elaborate tastings of Paarl wines, luxury accommodation, fine dining experiences and unique outdoor activities. Our private tours can be individually customised to meet your exact needs, ensuring every detail is taken care of so that you can relax and enjoy the matter at hand – sampling some of South Africa’s finest wines surrounded by spellbinding scenery.
Paarl’s vineyards are scattered across the lower slopes of Paarl Rock, on the northern side of Simonsberg Mountain and in the valley of the Berg River. Because vines are strengthened by having to delve more deeply in the nutrient-poor soils of the upper slopes, the best vineyards tend to be higher up on the two mountain slopes.
Most of the wineries on the Paarl wine route accommodate visitors, with opportunities to explore the vineyards and sample a collection of premium wines from the cellars – sometimes accompanied by the wine makers themselves – and pairings with local cuisine. Outside of indulging in world class wines, other Paarl attractions include a visit to the nearby Drakenstein Prison, where Nelson Mandela spent his final years of imprisonment, as well as a plethora of outdoor walking, hiking and mountain biking trails.
For more inspiration visit our South Africa destination page before planning a visit to the country to sample the delights of Paarl wines in their natural surroundings for yourself.
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