8 things to do in the Drakenstein area of the Cape Winelands

Posted on 3 August 2015

If you’re looking for a bit of historical charm, quirky experiences and an outdoor escape, then the Drakenstein area (between Paarl and Wellington) of the Cape Winelands will deliver quaint churches, secluded waterfalls, delicious cheeses, local food and excellent wines. Here are eight great things to do there.

1. Taste the Brut at Laborie

For three hundred years, Laborie has been producing wines. Judging by the taste of their Méthode Cap Classique one can see why they’ve been in business for so long. With some of the oldest architecture and history in the Paarl Valley, a visit to the farm will not only bring with it a great dining experience but a journey back in time. Guests can walk through the gardens where the old manor house (now converted into luxury accommodation) and the wine cellar are located. A day out at Laborie would be best combined with one of the wine and food pairings. Chacuterie, chocolate and macarons are all paired with the farm’s choice wines. The farm is open Monday-Saturday from 9h00-17h00 and Sunday from 11h00-17h00. Tel 021-807-3390, [email protected], www.laboriewines.co.za



2. Hike up to the Taalmonument

You won’t find more spectacular views of Paarl and its surrounds than on top of Paarl Hill. On the same token, wherever you are in Paarl you’ll be able to see the impressive white column of the Afrikaans Language Monument stretching into the sky, which sits perched on top. The monument was built in commemoration of the rich Afrikaans language that exists in South Africa today and has a story to tell of how Afrikaans came into being and is cloaked in a colourful history that will be shared as you walk through each section. The monument is set in well-manicured gardens where full-moon picnics, stargazing evenings and concerts are held. Entrance is R20 per adult and guided tours are complimentary. Tel 021- 872-3441, [email protected], www.taalmuseum.co.za

3. Choose your braai at Chippa’s Place

We all know that South Africans love to braai, and at Chippa’s place in Paarl you’ll not only get to choose your meat but have it braaied for you. With local favorites such as mogodu, spachcock chicken and lamb chops, you can enjoy your meal with your favorite beer in hand, right in the heart of Mbekweni Township. Started by entrepreneur Mr Mlata (also fondly known as Chippa), the restaurant has become the friendly hangout for locals and tourists alike. Great vibe, great food. Sorry veggies, this one’s for the meat-eaters. Tel 021-868-4757, www.chippasplace.co.za

4. Take a historical walk through Paarl

I’ve driven through Paarl on many occasions, but it’s when you actually walk the streets that this historical town comes alive. First inhabited by the Khoikhoi and San people, the European settlers moved in to farm the surrounding lands, bringing in several influences, which can be seen in the architecture of the many buildings in town. I had no idea that the cast-iron metalwork decorating the Victorian Houses is called ‘broekie-lace’ translated as ‘panty-lace’ by the local Afrikaans people. Our guide unraveled the history behind the buildings, telling us fascinating stories linked with the practices, culture and beliefs of the people at the time. We passsed the old bank, jail and trading areas in town and peaked into one or two churches along the way. Tel 021-872-0817, [email protected]

5. Olives and outdoor relaxation at Cascade Manor

Tasting olive oil is much like tasting wine. It’s an art and the more you practice the better you become at picking up different flavours on the nose and palette. Often you’ll get a peppery sensation at the back of the throat or taste freshly cut grass, which are all desirable qualities when tasting a good olive oil. Volker Goetze, our host at the hotel, took us on a journey through the olive making process while I made sure I sampled their divine Frantoio olives (of Tuscan variety) along the way. With over 900 olive trees on the estate, there is no shortage of quality olives and rich yellow olive oil. Tel 021-868-0227, [email protected], www.cascademanor.co.za

6. Go back in time in Wellington

The minute you walk into the historical Victorian House called The Granny House Museum, in Fontein Street in Wellington, you are transported back in time to 1876 when the house was built. Inside is a worthy collection of artifacts that depict what it was like living back in this era. You can then move onto the famous Breytenbach Centre, the childhood house of the famous writer Breyten Breytenbach. Sip coffee whilst reading one of the many books on the shelves, browse the works by local artists in the art gallery, catch a local production in the backyard theatre or stroll around the arty garden. Granny House Museum: Tel 021-873-3093 [email protected] and Breytenbach Centre: Tel 021-415-0002, www.breytenbachsentrum.co.za

7.  Jazz it up at Solms Delta

Well know for their classical wines, with labels such as Vastrap, Langarm, Lekkerwijn and Cape Jazz Shiraz (my favourite), Solms Delta is a great spot to get into the swing of things and unwind. It’s a great day outing for the family, spent under the trees or indulging in Cape cuisine at the Fyndraai restaurant. Local favourites such as wild rosemary encrusted Karoo lamb; free range chicken and tiger prawn masala; wild mushroom and garlic risotto for mains; and Rooibos panna cotta and traditional fridge tart with melon ice cream for dessert are served. For a special treat, pick a spot in the estate’s forest, set your blanket and polish off a tasty picnic. Tel 021-874-1852,  [email protected], www.solms-delta.co.za

8. Say cheese at Foxenburg Estate

This unassuming working farm on the slopes of the Groenberg Mountains, just 15 minutes from Wellington, is where the gold lies. I don’t hold back when it comes to cheese and I dived right in to tasting their delicious range of goat’s cheeses. Their garlic and herb soft Chevre and their age-ripened hard Shepherd cheese hit the notes for me. Oyster mushrooms, organic extra virgin olive oil, table and black mission olives are also available to purchase. On a guided tour of the farm you’ll get to learn how goats are milked, see oyster mushrooms in the making and walk amongst the olive groves. Ensure that you bring cash along. Tel 021-873-5617, email [email protected], www.foxenburg.co.za

Restaurants in Drakenstein

Noop Restaurant
The unpretentious food at this well frequented restaurant on main street in Paarl speaks for itself. Chef and owner Zian Oosthuizen has made a name for himself and is now serving up mouthwatering dishes such as rare Kalahari Gemsbok carpaccio, crispy pork belly with an oriental jus and wild mushroom risotto with white truffle oil. Expect simple yet elegant food in a homely setting. Although the menu is not huge, there are enough dishes to make the choice a little harder. Tel 021-863-3935, email [email protected], www.noop.co.za

Perfect Place
If you are looking for a warm place to feed your soul then this little coffee shop in the heart of Wellington will feed you with red velvet cake, a real farmers breakfast and hearty homemade goods all served with hospitality and a smile. Tel 021-873-6620, [email protected], www.theperfectplace.co.za,

Dunstone Winery
Although we only visited the Stone Kitchen for lunch, the winery also offers four-star accommodation and a self-catering cottage on the premises. The terrior dog logo that has become synonymous with the estate’s wine label, is still a young but developing brand. One can experience the estate’s wines with one of the restaurant dishes. The restaurant is located next to the wine tanks and one can watch the wine being made during the wine making season. The aromatic lamb curry, served in small potjie pots, with sambals was one of the many choices on the daily blackboard menu. Tel 021-864-1504, [email protected], www.dunstone.co.za


Spice Route Restaurant
After taking over the restaurant in February 2015, Bertus Basson brought with him a South African flair to the food and the interiors. The décor is a fusion of modern and old: paper antelope heads and old-world wallpaper ordain the walls complemeting the stlye of food that one can expect. Familiar dishes with a twist grace the menu where old and new flavours merge. The chicken liver parfait, toasted Mosbolletjie, onions and caraway konfyt will get those tastebuds in gear for the Springbok tamatie bredie pie, pickled onion with pumpkin fritters before you finish off with Tannie Hetta’s apple pie, custard and vanilla crumble. You are encouraged to take your time admiring the views of the surrounding farmlands and on a clear day, Table Mountain in the background. Open Monday-Sunday from 11h30- 17h00. Booking essential. Tel 021-863-5222, [email protected], www.bertusbasson.com

Accommodation options in Drakenstein

Cascade Manor
Wide-open spaces, personalised service and generous rooms are synonymous with Cascade Manor Boutique Hotel and Spa. Set amid olive groves and indigenous fynbos vegetation, their luxury accommodation comprises 10 classic double rooms, three deluxe rooms, one family room and one suite. You can easily find yourself a secluded spot to meditate or relax in by taking a short walk to the waterfall, along the olive trees or up the mountain. The grand garden pool will suck you in on those hot summer nights and the spa will keep you looking and feeling beautiful. For the more adventurous at heart, abseiling down Paarl Rock would be must with Cascade Manor’s own guide. Prices are from R1470 a room a night (classic rooms) and from R2100 a room a night (deluxe rooms). Tel 021-868-0227, [email protected], www.cascademanor.co.za


Foxenburg self-catering cottages
Escape the crowds, fish at the secluded trout dam and hear the sunbirds chirpping at this peaceful farm, with one of five self-catering chalets to choose from. The Groenberg Mountains provide the backdrop for what will be an affordable nature break for the whole family. Other activities include hiking, farm tours and game drives (on the neighbouring farm). All cottages come fully equipped, each with their own fireplace, braai facilities and wood. Prices from R376 a person a night. Group discounts available. Tel 021-873-5617, [email protected], www.foxenburg.co.za

Druk-My-Niet cottages
The Protea, Guava and Fynbos cottages on the Druk-my-Niet wine farm, are surrounded by rows and rows of vineyards and come fully equipped for a self-catering weekend break. Sleeping 2, 4 and 6 people, each cottage is private and shares a sparkling infinity pool, great for a summer cool-off. Take a cellar tour, order some breaky or go horse riding at the neighbouring farm. Prices are R1300 (sleeps 2), R1800 (sleeps 4) and R2900 (sleeps 6) a night per unit. Tel 021-868-2393, [email protected], www.dmnwines.co.za



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