Quick Facts: Paarl
- The historic towns of Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Wellington are nearby
- Home to many local and internationally well known wine estates
- The Paarl Wine Route
- Museums and art galleries
- Afrikaans Language Monument which was erected in 1975 to honour the Afrikaans Language
- Ikhwezi - see how they manage to empower previously unemployed women and children
- Many shops sellling handmade gifts and products by local crafters
- Strooidak Church - one of the oldest and most historic churches in South Africa
- Rock Climbing - For only experienced climbers. The first serious climbing routes up this rock were pioneered in 1969 by climbers from the University of Cape Town. A guide book for these routes is now available.
- Hiking trails
- Pearl Mountain or "Paarl Rock"
Distance to Airport: 61 km
Meandering through the valleys and slopes of the Groot and Klein Drakenstein Mountains is Cape Town’s favourite ‘Red Route’, fanning out from the town of Paarl. Paarl lies to the north of Franschhoek and Stellenbosch and can be easily located by simply looking up: three massive granite outcrops and an Afrikaans Language Monument dominate its skyline making this a hard place to miss. The wine route encompasses over thirty vintners in the Paarl district and provides the perfect opportunity to expand your knowledge of red wines.
Paarl is the largest town in the Cape Winelands, Western Province, and is the third oldest European settlement in South Africa. The name Paarl derives from the Dutch word 'Parel' which means Pearl. The town of Paarl is located approximately 60kilometers northeast of Cape Town. It nestles beautifully in a valley which is surrounded by magnificent mountains. Paarl is particularly well known for its Pearl Mountain or "Paarl Rock". This huge granite rock is formed by three rounded outcrops which make up Paarl Mountain.
In 1657, while Abraham Gabemma was searching for additional meat resources for the new Dutch settlement at the Cape of Good Hope, he saw a giant granite rock glistening in the sun after a rainstorm and named it "de Diamondt en de Peerlberg” (Diamond and Pearl Mountain). The "diamonds" soon disappeared from the name and it became known simply at Pearl Rock or Pearl Mountain. In 1687, land for farms was given to Dutch settlers on the banks of the Berg River nearby. The fertile soil in this region of South Africa and the Mediterranean-like climate provided perfect conditions for farming. The settlers planted orchards, vegetable gardens and vineyards. Today, Paarl produces some of the finest wines.
Paarl is a very attractive town with its Cape Dutch houses dating from the 17th to the 19th century. Beautiful gardens and oak tree line the streets. It was in Paarl that the foundations of the Afrikaans language was laid by the Gennootskap van Regte Afrikaners. The "Afrikaanss Taalmonument" (Monument to the Afrikaans Language) on the slopes of the Paarl Mountain, the Language Museum and the Language Route through Dal Josaphat are memorials to this achievement. Paarl provides many scenic drives, hiking trails and the Paarl wine route, with its many wine tasting opportunities including vintages from the famous Nederburg Wine Estate and excellent restaurants.
The former headquarters of the wine industry in South Africa are also situated in Paarl: This was the famous "Co-operative Wine Growers' Association" (better known by its Afrikaans initials KWV). The KWV became a South African institution which has acquired an international reputation based on its unique achievements and its imprint of quality on the local wine industry. Over the past decade, however, KWV became a completely profit-driven private company that has no administrative role anymore. KWV's main wine production and maturation facilities are on its Paarl premises, while its brandy production takes place in Worcester and grape juice concentrate production in Upington in the Northern Cape of South Africa.
Wine Estates in Paarl, South Africa
Avondale Wine Estate
Visit Avondale for a glimpse into the workings of a certified organic wine farm producing low sulphur wines. They’ve coined the term ‘Bio-LOGIC’ agriculture which involves approaching everyday farming problems the natural way – and there really is nothing better than watching a posse of ducks hard at work de-snailing vineyards. Avondale is located in the Klein Drakenstein, about a five-minute drive from town and the Palmiet Valley Estate.
Fairview Wine Estate
This is one of the most popular Paarl wineries and it is usually buzzing with wine and cheese lovers, and their happy children. A range of Fairview wine and cheese can be sampled in the spacious tasting room, but be warned – the goats tend to steal the limelight as they trot up and down Fairview’s iconic Goat Tower. The kids will love it.
Glen Carlou Wine Estate
You’ll find Glen Carlou in the heart of Paarl’s wine valley and only a few minutes drive from Santé Winelands Hotel and Wellness Centre. Glen Carlou boasts two unique attractions – a Zen fynbos garden and the Hess contemporary art collection, which exhibits an enviable selection of artists from across the globe. Both the tasting room and the terrace restaurant have panoramic views of rolling vineyards and mountains.
Rhebokskloof Wine Estate
For guests at Grande Roche Hotel, Lemoenkloof Guest House or De Oude Paarl, Rhebokskloof is more or less ‘up the road’. Established in 1789, it is a lovely country venue for summer picnics and outdoor activities such as quad biking, horse riding and hiking. Rhebok Restaurant serves both lunches and dinners and the wine here is world-class – Rhebokskloof 2007 Syrah was voted the fifth best Shiraz in the world at the 2010 Syrah du Monde International Competition.
Seidelberg Wine Estate
The fact that you can see Table Mountain on a clear day as you sip on wines in the shade of a pergola makes Seidelberg particularly alluring. This historic estate also boasts a stunning glass art gallery and glass blowing studio where visitors can watch artists at work. If this visual feast is not quite enough to sate your hunger, a meal at De Leuwen Jagt restaurant should do the trick. Picnic baskets can also be ordered for lazy lunches under oak trees.