cape of good hope, fruits, winemaking, taste, south africa, cheese, festival,
Caribbean Cruise Discounts!
A Wine Drenched Tour Along The Red Route of Paarl, South Africa
by: Gregory Hudson
The wine tradition in Paarl is older than the roots of the aging Oak Trees that
line its Cape Dutch streets. The first European settlers arrived at the Cape of
Good Hope in 1652, planting the seeds that solidified the Cape's reputation as a
wine growing heaven.
Now that the work has already been done, what else can you and I do but savour
the delicate fruits pressed with decades of winemaking experience and travel the
newly formed routes leading us to the finest wines in the world.
Forget the majesty of the Drakensberg Mountains, try to ignore the historic
monuments perched loftily upon pearly hills, the kind of wine tasting to be done
in Paarl will require every ounce of your concentration.
Now that we know what we are going to be doing in Paarl, apart from enjoying the
scenery, let's make a journey into the winelands, delving into present day
winemaking communities, uncovering their interesting attributes and tracing
those lively wines to hideaways so often missed by the multitude.
Along the way, if we're lucky, we may make the acquaintance of a genuine
Garagiste, a class of heretic garage winemakers shunned in France by the old
school traditionalists because of the stir their independently crafted wines
create. There might be a hint along the way as to where we might discover one of
those who make these “Vins de Garage”. The mixture of Paarl's perfect climate
and their special skills is sure to be very rewarding.
We start our journey at the entrance of the Hugenot Tunnel, the breach to the
longest wine route in the world, also known as Route 62. But we go no further;
what we are mostly concerned with is the infamous Red Route...
The Red Route
The Red Route, as you can imagine, is named because of the large amount and
quality of red wines along its relaxing meander. It was formed by a
collaboration of wine producers known as the Paarl Vintners (Wine Merchants).
The Vintners diligently plotted a wine route for an estimated 24 participants,
all found within the Paarl Valley. One or two of these include the De Zoete
Inval Estate owned by the Frater family, who have been making wine here for more
than 115 years. The Rhebokskloof Estate has also been producing wine since 1692.
Unfortunately, the wine from that early period has already been consumed.
The Red Route is without question a collection of the most renowned wine
producers in the world. Any effort made in finding them would not in any way be
an inconvenience to your taste buds. The Red Route's Cabernet Sauvignon and
Shiraz are undoubtedly the best in the world.
Not strictly a wine route, the Red Route is also, by happy coincidence, a cheese
route. Which brings us to our next stop along our journey - Fairview.
Fairview is South Africa's largest producer of speciality cheeses. For over 25
years, dairy goats have supplied milk for a variety of cheeses ranging from
Jersey Milk, Brie and Camembert to a wide variety of Italian and French-style
If however that is not enough of an incentive to visit Fairview, a little
historical rundown should serve to amplify your interest...
Fairview not only produces speciality cheeses, but also award-winning wines. In
1693, Simon van der Stel, the second governor of the Cape of Good Hope,
allocated the original land at Fairview to Steven Vervey, a French Huguenot. The
first wine was made on Fairview in 1699 and a long tradition has long since
developed. Fairview started its own bottling in 1974 and auctioned its first
bottled wines at the very first wine auction ever held in the country,
pre-dating the now famous Nederburg Auction.
The Nederburg Auction
The Auction is Paarl's largest wine festival and is like the World Cup for
winetasters. Held at the end of every summer, the auction epitomises what fine
wine is all about. The very essence of the event lies in the tasting of 147
award winning wines, perhaps even those of the Garagistes, but you will have to
wait and see!
The auction is a benchmark of quality for South African Wines and serves as a
showcase for African wines to the international trade. Because of this, any
label proclaiming “sold at the Nederburg Auction” is regarded as having an
official stamp of approval, worldwide.
Too much talk about wine is liable to make a person a little obsessed. It is
after all only fermented grape juice. But Paarl makes it well and the Red Route
is the best place to find it.
Good wine naturally goes well with good food and Paarl offers some of the best
restaurants in the Cape, serving a variety of foods that mingle well with a
bottle of your favourite tipple.
Paarl is also a place rich in history with its architectural wonders. They seem
to represent the concrete and stone versions of its fine wines. Each wine estate
has a unique attraction - a gable, a special goat tower like the one at Fairview
or even a gargoyle waiting for the flash of your camera.
Because tunnel vision limits the mind, many things can be missed along the Red
Route. Take olive tasting for instance. This is becoming a major attraction on
some of the estates, many of whom now grow Olive Trees for the export of olive
The rest is up to you. Whether you get down to the specifics and finer details
of wine tasting or broaden your horizons gazing over the Paarl Valley from Paarl
Rock depends on which side of the tunnel you're on. Enjoy Paarl!
About The Author
Oak Tree Lodge is centrally located in the historical Cape Winelands town of
Paarl, South Africa. Visit their website (http://www.oaktreelodge.co.za/area.q)
for more information on Paarl, South Africa.
Just across the border of South Africa you will find:
Namibia - a gem hidden in the South Western part of Africa,
where the hearts of its people are as warm as the sun itself.