Paarl Winelands

South Africa

In a region where pretty little tourist towns dot the countryside, the understated town of Paarl stands out more for the beauty that surrounds it than its city centre. Glimpses of old-school Cape Dutch architecture charm from the first and Bainskloof Pass and the ultra-scenic Paarl Mountain Nature Reserve, complete with three enormous granite domes, loom large over the town. Paarl is bordered by the imposing Groot and Klein Drakenstein mountains, so expect a delightful day meandering through the countryside.

Winemaking in this region dates back to the late 1600s and Wine of Origin status was awarded back in the 1970s, so it's safe to say the 70 or so local vintners - with 1600 hectares under vine - know their stuff.

Paarl is also home to some of the biggest names in the South African wine industry and winemaking here tends to combine old-world charm with new-age techniques. Expect to sample red and white blends, Rhone varietals including Shiraz, Viognier and Grenache alongside the local specialities, Pinotage and Chenin Blanc.

Whilst visitors flock for the wine trail, the region is also known as the birthplace of the modern Afrikaans language, a milestone marked by a small museum just out of town.