Home of South Africa’s World-renowned Wine Makers
There are various internationally acclaimed wine farms that produce award-winning wines, each with their own unique story and rich history.
Franschhoek is a special and breathtakingly beautiful wine valley not far from Stellenbosch and Paarl. Due to King Louis of France revoking the Edict of Nantes in 1685, thousands of French Protestants (Huguenots) fled France into the rest of Europe. Assisted by the Dutch, about 150 French Huguenots arrived in the Cape from The Netherlands and were given land around the Berg River region. They farmed the land with crops and wine vines, and Franschhoek soon developed into a majestic wine region. The Dutch named the region Franschhoek Hoek (French Corner), as there were a large number of French immigrants living there. Most of the farms that were developed were given French names and to this day, most still carry these proud names. A visit to the famous Huguenots Memorial Museum will give you an interesting experience of the strong culture and history of the early French Settlers.
The Franschhoek wine valley offers an excellent range of superb wine cultivars – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, and a variety of red wine grape ranges which flourish in the valleys of Franschhoek.
There is also an MCC route through Franschhoek where you can experience some of the best Method Cap Classiques, which is the South African equivalent to French Champagne.
As the early Dutch Settlers expanded into different regions in the Cape, the area known as the Drakenstein was colonised in 1687. Later, a town developed and in 1839 Paarl was born. Today, Paarl is nestled in the beautiful Drakenstein Valley, not too far from Stellenbosch and Franschhoek and about 45-minute drive from Cape Town. The name Paarl (Pearl) derives from the granite boulders overlooking the town that shines in the sunlight when the granite is moist.
This historic town is just north from Cape Town, and as can be expected, has magnificent 16th Century Cape Dutch architecture. It is said that Paarl is the birthplace of the Afrikaans language, and the Afrikaans Language Monument towers high on the slopes and can be seen miles away. Although some areas in town has grown commercially, a sense of tranquillity remains with wine vines literally growing alongside the main road through town.
The Paarl wine route and its glorious wine farms are most popular for its Shiraz cultivar, but due to the rich soil, and excellent climate, Paarl also produces a wide variety of other wine grapes. On this route you will experience some of the best wines in the region, and visit award-winning estates. KWV, one of the biggest wine producers in South Africa, also known for its excellent brandy production is also situated in Paarl. Visiting KWV for a private cellar tour, and a delicacy pairing is certainly recommended.
Stellenbosch has become a popular tourist destination for so many reasons. Simon van der Stel, former Governor of the Cape, founded Stellenbosch in 1679, which makes it the second oldest town in South Africa. The town is known for its beautiful old buildings and big oak trees that line the streets. In fact, “Dorp Straat” (Town Street) has one of the longest rows of old buildings, including Churches surviving in any major town in SA.
In recent times, Stellenbosch has become a vibrant centre due to one of the biggest Universities in Africa opening its doors in 1920. The culture of the early settlers is also very apparent as Stellenbosch has a unique character with original Victorian and Cape Dutch architecture. A visit to the Village Museum will show you this rich heritage in a unique way. Stellenbosch is one of the world’s best viticulture regions due to the excellent climate and soil.