CAPE WINELANDS TOUR starts from Cape Town City Centre.
Cape Town isa picturesque city bowl, which lies in a natural amphitheatre ringed by Table Mountain, Signal Hill, Lion’s Head and Devil’s Peak. This fantastic natural beauty, along with a temperate climate, has made Cape Town a long-time favourite of world travellers. As you head out of the city you might see a distinctive architectural quirk that is characteristic of this area. The gable design on many of the buildings is a legacy of the first Cape Dutch farmers who came to settle in the area in the 1600 and 1700’s. Their influence can be seen in the architecture of the region as well as the great farm and wine estates.
Our tour of the Cape Winelands starts with a visit to Paarl; a charming valley overlooked by the ‘Pearl of Paarl’, an imposing granite mountain that towers above this area. Stately oak trees line well-manicured streets and gardens and you can expect to see many fine examples of Cape Dutch architecture.
This region was originally inhabited by the Khoikhoi and San people. European explorers first came into the area in 1657 in search of trading relationships with the local people. One traveller, upon seeing the giant granite mountain shining after a rainstorm described it as ‘de Diamondt en de Peerlberg’ (the Diamond and Pearl Mountain); this is the origin of Paarl’s name.
Dutch and French Huguenot farmers settled in the area in the 1680’s and quickly found the fertile soil and temperate climate to be perfect for farming. Fruit, vegetables and gardens flourished; as well as the vineyards that began Paarl’s prominence as a wine producer.
You will visit one of the top Paarl wine estates to sample their fine wines and enjoy a tour of their cellar, where you can gain insight into the process of viniculture.
Moving on to our next stop, it’s a short but spectacular drive from Paarl to Franschhoek. We are now deep in the Cape Winelands and you are surrounded by vineyards, verdant valleys and rolling mountains.
Franschhoek lays south-west to Paarl, near the Drakenstein Mountains. It was established in 1688 by French immigrants fleeing Huguenot religious persecution in Europe. A monument in the town commemorates the arrival of these early settlers. They helped to develop wines that were greatly sought after and desired by Napoleon, Bismarck and royalty such as Edward VII, the Prince of Wales. Many of these great wine estates still retain their original farm houses.
Fantastic Cape Dutch Architecture also remains preserved in the town thanks to restrictions that help retain the spirit of the original settlers.
Here we will stop for lunch (at guests own expense) and another wine tasting at an excellent wine estate.
The last stop on our tour of the Winelands is Stellenbosch, the second oldest town in South Africa and the historic heart of the country’s wine region. In 1679, Dutch East India Company governor, Simon van der Stel, noticed the fertility of this long valley, on the banks of the Eerste River, as ideal for vineyards. Van der Stel’s foresight led to the growth of one of the world’s best wine regions. An elegant mix of 18-century Cape Dutch, Georgian and Victorian buildings is noticeable as you head down Dorp Street, where huge Oaks still shadow original water furrows. Enjoy a final wine tasting before returning to Cape Town.
Return to Cape Town.