The Cape Winelands – Paarl, Western Cape, South Africa

An Oenophile’s Odyssey

A wine safari combines two of South Africa’s greatest treasures: the spec­tacular Cape wine region and its excellent regional cuisine, a mix of the culinary skills of the Dutch, French, British, Portuguese, Germans, and Malays. Within easy reach of Cape Town, the major estates and the small, sophisticated, fabled towns of Stellenbosch, Paarl, and Franschhoek have roots deep in the Dutch and French Huguenot chapter of the country’s history, dating back to the mid-1600s.

The gracious Cape Dutch homesteads are set against a bold backdrop of granite-peaked mountains, forests, and rolling vineyards. They are often centuries-old family-run concerns, whose private cellars can be visited and sampled by special arrangement.

A visit to Groot Constantia, the oldest wine estate in the country – originally owned by Simon Van Der Stel, the first gov­ernor of the Dutch Colony here – offers the chance to experience some of the world’s finest wines as well as a rich historical and architectural tradition. Stay in Paarl at Grande Roche, one of South Africa’s uncon­tested jewels.

The cluster of historical gabled buildings (whose nucleus is the Dutch manor house dating to 1707) and house-proud hotel-of-the-year staff create a delightful atmosphere in this enviably scenic location. The hotel’s sophisticated restaurant, Bosman’s, draws Cape Town’s epicures, who think nothing of helicoptering in to enjoy one of the country’s best dining experiences.

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