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TThe Paarl Wine Route, also known as Paarl Vintners, represents approximately 70 wine producers in the Drakenstein area ranging from vast cooperative cellars to historic family-owned estates.
Wine of Origin status was conferred on the Paarl district in 1972. The Paarl district comprises the wards of Wellington, Simonsberg-Paarl and Voor Paardeberg. The former ward of Franschhoek became a district in its own right in May 2010.
Bordered by the scenic Groot Drakenstein, Franschhoek, and Klein Drakenstein mountains to the south, south-east, and east, the Paarl Wine Route combines old-world charm with new-world style winemaking.
The Paarl vineyards enjoy a typically Mediterranean climate, where long, hot summer days give way to cooling afternoon breezes.
Mild winters with generous rainfall, supplemented by irrigation from the Berg River, and diverse topography allows vines to flourish at a range of altitudes, from low-lying floodplains to the steep foothills of the Drakenstein basin.
Paarl’s diverse terroir reflects a variety of soils. Though granite, and acidic, potassium-rich gravel and clay loam are prominent, in the Drakenstein, Simonsberg, and Paardeberg wards, vines also thrive along ancient sandstone and shale terraces.
Home to some of the biggest names in the South African wine industry, Paarl vintners excel with Rhone varietals, including shiraz, grenache and viognier, and local staples, chenin blanc and pinotage.
Visitors to the Paarl Wine Route should look out for the region’s increasingly well-regarded red and white blends, and methode cap classique wines, as well as sherry, tawny (port), and brandy.
Paarl’s vast vineyards (there are at least 16 000ha under vine) produce wines to suit every palate and budget, from casual quaffers to connoisseurs.
Paarl is also home to a couple of craft breweries, olives and olive oil producers.
Travel tips & planning info
Who to contact
Paarl Wine Valley
Tel: +27 (0)21 872 4842
How to get here
Just 40 minutes on the R44, off the N1, Paarl is a quick drive or taxi ride from Cape Town. Alternatively, catch the train or splash out on a helicopter flight.
Best time to visit
Paarl is spectacular in spring when the orchards are in bloom and the oak trees that line the main road have their first flush of green; harvest time is mid-January to end March/early April, while autumn (April to early July) is balmy with cool evenings.
Things to do
While in the area, visit the Taal (Afrikaans language) Monument, and explore vast granite rock formations, thought to be 50-million years old, in the Paarl Nature Reserve.
Other Paarl attractions and activities include animal, bird and reptile parks, hot-air ballooning, mountain biking, hiking, canoeing, horse riding, fishing and golf.
In Paarl, you could take a walking tour of Main Road to see examples of Cape Dutch, Victorian, Edwardian and Art Deco architecture, or explore the Brandy Route that includes several wine farms and brandy cellars in the area.
The OmmiBerg (round the rock) festival happens every second Saturday in March; the Cape fine and rare wine auction takes place in October and the Cultivaria festival takes place in September.
What to pack
Paarl’s weather can be quite variable, so cover all eventualities by wearing layers. June to September is the rainy season. December to April is summer, and sun protection is advised.
Where to stay
Choose from riverside campsites, and township homestays, to quaint boutique and five-star hotels.
What to eat
Dining options in Paarl include fine dining at Bosman’s restaurant at the Grande Roche Hotel or for a more informal experience, sample local olives and award-winning goats', sheep and cows' milk cheeses at The Goatshed at Fairview wine estate.
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