#DiscoveringPaarl: A day in the Winelands

2017-05-26 13:18 - Unathi Nkanjeni
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I must confess, as someone who's been living in the Western Cape for most of my years, there are still places that make me feel like a tourist in "my" own home province. 

I blame this on doing the same things and hanging out at the same spots all the time - but nonetheless, let me spill the tea on my latest excursion - #DiscoverPaarl - the Western Cape's third-oldest town after Cape Town and Stellenbosch and the largest town in the Cape Winelands.

Once upon a gloomy day, I arrived at the Grand Roche Hotel, a small luxury 5-star hotel in the Winelands where I'd been travelling with a group of not so familiar faces in a shuttle for what felt like a journey that would know no end. Excuse my obvious non-fanning of long drives? 

At last we arrive at a beautiful hotel overlooking the town of Paarl. Entering the premises I say to one of the ladies, "Hi, my name is Unathi from Traveller24."

"Oh.. oh.. We were expecting a girl."

This is the response I get most times but I have learned to just smile pass it and explain that the name is unisex.

Nonetheless, like a real millennial, the first thing I did was to take my phone out and take a couple snaps to share on social (if it's not on the 'gram, it did not happen) and later proceeded to make my way inside the hotel. 

Despite the gloomy weather, I was expecting a great day ahead, at least that's what's I told myself.

This celebrated historic property is famous not only for its exquisite location in the heart of the beautiful Cape Winelands but also for its luxurious, cosmopolitan accommodation, award-winning cuisine and matchless service and hospitality.

Known as the place "where your every wish is granted", although my time spent there was short, this is very much true. So come expecting to be pampered.

There I was, taking in every aspect of this exquisitely homey-feeling hotel, just minding my business, looking at the designs and reading the artists' names on some of the paintings.

"Would you like some champagne, sir?" asks one of the waiters.

Me to self: "Champagne for breakfast . . ?"

With a glint in my eye,  I replied with a "yeah sure, why not. Pour it up". 

Little did I know that would be my answer throughout the day.

While taking snaps and making conversation, I met another Port Elizabeth native and of course, we immediately clicked and talked like we were long lost, friends.

SEE: You know you're from the Eastern Cape when...

That's the thing about us people from the East, we click, naturally.

SEE: Explore Paarl: Getting lost in the Cape winelands

Bubbly exchanged for Brandy

After the champagne breakfast, off we went to our first stop - House of Fire, KWV's Wine Emporium where we were taken on a mini road trip to where the "magic happens".

Soon we were on an educational trip on how the KWV products are made and why they are considered to be the best and boy oh boy. . .I really thought I knew a thing or two about brandy, but not at all.

Did you know that the KWV brandy is distilled not once, but twice to maximise flavours and that the KWV Distillery is the biggest brandy distillery in the Southern Hemisphere? Well, let's just say we learn a thing or two every day. 

This award-winning Emporium is also home to the KWV 20 Year brandy that won the title of "Best in the World" at the 2015 ISC Trophy Winner.

KWV also received the title of Best Brandy and Cognac Producer in the world and is first time in the ISC’s twenty year history that a brandy, not a cognac, has won that title.

After this education session, we went up for testing and to summon it all up, let's just say a gloomy day suddenly became a hot one after four different shots to the liver from their best award-winning products with chocolates and wine.

SEE: Cheers to enjoying local fine wine while flying

Lunch and wine - what's new?

Heading back to the starting pointing of the KWV cellar tour, we said our goodbyes and off we went to the second stop - Nederburg Wine Estate.

Feeling a bit woozy from the previous drinks, I chose to hang outside and just bask in the beauty of the place before making my way to The Red Table Restaurant.

Everything about this place was chilled and relaxed, so peaceful and quiet - so enjoyable. 

This time the weather had started to look better than in the morning.

After a while of allowing myself to enjoy the setting, as I entered the restaurant, one word come to mind - HOME. 

This place too felt like home. Warm with vintage touches everywhere. From the walls to the tables. Everywhere. 

"Can I pour you some of our famous award-winning Cab Sauv wine, Sir?"

"Well, sure. Pour it up," I said, as the standard response of the day. My recommendation if you plan on day-tripping with your crew is to arrange a driver and just let yourself relax and enjoy.

For lunch, we were treated to more delicious cuisine and good wine - keep in mind, although I may little about wine, I'd let you know straight away if it tested otherwise. 

After what can best be described as a "pigging out" season, there I was thinking to myself this is it, we were done. But no, out comes the chef with a bright smile to announce his choice of dessert for us and why he made it.

"This is a special dessert, I've never made it before but just thought why not try something new. 

"It's tart with meringue."

After a day of food and wine,  I thought the day was over and was a bit teary on the inside about not wanting this day to end because I didn't want to go back to the city this soon. 

Alcoholic beverages exchanged for Hippie vibes, herbal tea and biscotti                           

So as we driving the driver turns left, the joy in my heart when I realised that the day wasn't over yet. And off we went to our last stop - O sole Mio Guiseppe's home

Let's just say this was the "icing on the cake" to my day. This man's house is everything a "getaway out of the CBD" should be. Very eco-friendly and green. Serving us goodies done with ingredients picked up straight from his garden.

He comes up to me and asks "unjani bhuti, ungum'Xhosa noma uyakhuluma? " (How are you my brother, are you Xhosa or Zulu?)

Just as the weather's about to change again - in the Western Cape, we experience four weather seasons in one day - and, before welcoming us into his home, we were greeted with a huge "NO BANTING ZONE", which he made sure we all took note of.

Offering coffee and all homemade Italian treats - unfortunately, my pour-it-up response for everything didn't apply to coffee.

Like long-drives, I don't like coffee much!

Nevertheless, my new hippie friend made me fresh herbal tea to enjoy along with his freshly baked cookies. And after cookies and tea, came the hookah-smoking session.

Although we didn't stay long in Guiseppe's home, you can take comfort in knowing every minute and every bit of the conversation there was pleasant.

And as a thank you, Guiseppe gave each one of us gifts - A plant and a tomato. I am still not sure of the meaning behind it, but I still have it, regardless. 

All and all, my trip to #DiscoverPaarl was pleasant. And certainly something worth hazarding another long-drive from the city for.

*Disclaimer: Traveller24 Unathi Nkanjeni was hosted by Paarl Tourism for the duration of his stay, including transport.