The Paarl Winelands
Did you know?
The Paarl Wine Route is known as the Red Route for its legendary red wines.
The Paarl Winelands are framed by the majestic Groot and Klein Drakenstein and Franschhoek mountains. Running through the Paarl wine estates is the Berg River, which sustains the winelands in Paarl as the area is dependant on irrigation.
Paarl is the third oldest town in South Africa. Founded in 1687 when Dutch settlers were given farms along the Berg River, it quickly established itself as a centre for fine wines, many of which are considered amongst the best in the world.
A feature of the town, from which it derives its name, is the huge granite Paarl Rock formed by 3 rounded outcrops that tower above it. Comparable to the Uluru (Ayers) Rock in Australia, it was christened in 1657 by a Cape Town traveller who saw it glittering like a pearl.
The town is considered the birthplace of the Afrikaans language. A monument to this on the slopes of Paarl Rock, the Language Museum and the Afrikaans Language Route bear testimony to this. Its prosperity is also there to see in the many well-preserved Cape Dutch houses.
But it is for their wines that most visitors come to the Paarl winelands. While it produces fine whites, it is legendary for its award-winning noble reds. That is why the Paarl Wine Route is affectionately known as the ‘Red Route'.
This route includes more than 40 estates in the winelands of Paarl, including Fairview, Laborie and Avondale. Also on the route is the historic Nederburg, which at the end of summer hosts the Nederberg Auction, considered a must for discerning wine buyers.
The area is a mecca for rock climbers and those wanting scenic drives over the numerous mountain passes leading to Paarl. There are also reserves, a bird sanctuary, crocodile farm, butterfly farm and lion park nearby.