For the Love of Art, Food, Wine and History in Paarl

For the Love of Art, Food, Wine and History in Paarl

A warm day in the Paarl valley began with a scenic drive in-between the vineyards of Ridgeback winery, where perched on a hill is the Expressive Art Studio. Exhibiting it’s art gallery on the first Saturday of every month, this humble studio allows small groups the opportunity to let out their inner Van Gogh. Hosting workshops and a calming therapeutic like environment, Antonia Barlett invites you to create masterpieces in the form of rock painting.

When looking at the rigid canvases spread across the table, it is pretty hard to envision exactly what you would like to create. It is an art form that needs you to be vulnerable, open up your senses and look at your surroundings and what you have been influenced by. I have loved the art of one line drawings and was inspired to create my very own version of a sophisticated women as a one line masterpiece.

A few brush strokes later and…

As you can see, there are definitely a few budding artist’s in our group. It was the perfect way to kick off a tour day exploring the Paarl valley. We let down our boundaries and you can really tell a lot about people around you by their art.

We took a slow meander through the vines to Ridgeback wines. This beloved Paarl gem produced their first white wine in 2000, and the Ridgeback Shiraz was a five star award-winning wine which was created in 2001 and was the first red. There must be something in the soil here at Ridgeback Wines, as everything they produce and bottle seems to churn out numerous awards, accolades and medals since 2001, both locally and internationally. Ridgeback’s winemaker, Toit Wessels, is a true master of his craft.

In 2003, a modern winery was constructed with a 300 ton capacity.  The winery was complemented by the construction of a wine tasting facility which is perched over a large duck pond filled with koi fish and various bird life.

The newly remodelled wine tasting area overlooks the lake buzzing with wildlife. It is open and spacious and is the perfect vantage point for an afternoon of wine tasting and picturesque scenery.

Our farm’s location, soils and slopes are well suited to red grapes, of which the mainstay is Shiraz, followed by Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Mourvèdre, Petit Verdot and Grenache. In addition, our white grapes are expertly produced examples of Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc and Viognier.

– Ridgeback Wines Website

What would a scenic tour of Paarl be without a lunch pitstop. A few kilometres from Ridgeback is Perdeberg Wines. It was my first time venturing out to this Paarl favourite but certainly not my last. This family friendly wine farm offers a huge variety of things to do, ways to dine and the perfect excuse to have this a one stop destination on a sunny afternoon.

With a chilled glass of the Perdeberg Old Vine Chenin Blanc MCC as the perfect welcome drink, we sipped on the sunny patio before making our way into the restaurant for a proudly Cape Townian lunch by Head Chef Rob Hahn and his team.

The Cape Malay inspired lunch was crunchy bobotie filled spring rolls with a homemade chutney dipping sauce before we tucked into a mild chicken curry and rice complete with poppadoms. We finished off the meal on a sweet note. The confectionary tasting is definitely a favourite of the frequent Perdeberg patrons. There are a few tasting options to choose from which I have listed down below.

Hoping back onto our shuttle we took a meandering drive through the town of Paarl and headed North towards the outskirts of Paarl that I am a lot more familiar with. Nederburg was next on our itinerary.

Nederbug is truly an icon in the South African wine industry and doesn’t need any introductions. This historical landmark has been pioneering the S.A wine industry for years and they aren’t planning to slow down any time soon.

Seated beneath the canopies of old oak trees which stand tall with years of history, we enjoyed a tasting of Nederburg’s finest selections. Complete with a notary snack platter selection which boasts seasonal produce, local favourites and flavourful nibbles.

A culmination of two centuries of heritage, tradition and skill, these premium single-varietal wines are handcrafted from grapes sourced from the best vines within the top-performing vineyards. These site-specific wines express the estate’s outstanding terroir and are only released in exceptional vintages.

– Nederburg’s Website

A hop, skip and a jump from Nederburg is a history lovers answer to finding out all that Paarl has gone through to make it the landmark town it is today.

Travel back to  yesteryear with Hybré van Niekerk of Paarl Historical Walk and Tours and learn more about the roles people such as Abraham Gabbema and Arnoldus Pannevis played in the rich history of the town and the Afrikaans language.  Get lost in the rich culture and explore the diverse architectural building styles.

As a traveller, I know that the best way to see any city is on foot. This is exactly the experience offered. The town has many fine examples of Georgian, Victorian, Edwardian and Cape Dutch buildings that compete for space with a wide variety of fine restaurants and coffee shops spread out along the twelve kilometre-long Main Street.

As the sun began to set on the first day of our two day Paarl adventure, we checked into the quintessential Paarl treasure, Laborie.

Laborie Estate is a historic working farm in the foothills of Paarl Mountain. The expansive property has seven double luxury rooms and one deluxe suite. These revamped stables are now renovated cosy rooms furnished in the Cape French Style.

The Jonkershuis cottage offers self-catering accommodation for six guests.  All guest rooms overlook the historic Manor House werf, beautiful vineyards and the majestic Drakenstein Mountains. Sit outside under the oak trees on the werf at sunset, drink a glass of chilled wine and enjoy the beautiful view and the wonderful farm, granted to the French Huguenot Isaac Taillefert in 1691.

​Villa 28, our self-catering offering for up to 12 people, is a beautiful 1920’s thatched roof house, renovated to perfection with modern facilities, and lots of old world charm. The property is adjacent to the beautiful Laborie Estate, with only a short walk through the vineyards to enjoy all of the facilities on offer at the Estate. It offers 6 double/twin rooms, a living room, dining room and a fully equipped kitchen. It also has a beautiful, spacious garden and private swimming pool. Villa 28 is the ideal space for brides and bridal parties preparing for their special day.

– Laborie Website

Once we checked in for the evening we got ready for Paarl’s most famous culinary experience, here is a…

It was a jam packed first day exploring the Paarl valley. Known as a food, wine and history lover’s playground I can certainly see why. Stay tuned to see where we had the privilege of dining and what day two had in store.


Megan Pedro
Megan Pedro

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