5 fabulous attractions in Paarl & Wellington besides wine

Paarl and Wellington are charming farming towns situated in the stunning Cape Winelands. Wine is unmistakably what the region is known for first and foremost and for very good reasons. However, there is a lot more to the area than just wine. Did you for example know that…

  • Paarl is the third oldest town in South Africa?
  • the area played an important role in the development of the Afrikaans language?
  • in 1990, Nelson Mandela ended his 27 years of imprisonment in Victor Verster Correctional Centre in Paarl?

So here are some alternatives to showcase the region. A pick ‘n mix of more unconventional activities to create a balanced blend with food and wine.

Please click on any of the pictures below to view in full size.

1. Fanglasstic Workshops

Fanglasstic is a small family run business established in 2010 in their garage in Paarl, where they ran only two kilns. They have now moved to larger premises, employ six people, run nine kilns and create the most beautiful handcrafted, functional and affordable glassware. Some of their designs are funky and bold, others more traditional and South African, but you are guaranteed to find something to match your taste and mood.

However, when was the last time you found your inner creative diva? So why not get those creative juices flowing and join one of their fun glass painting workshops and transform a piece of basic window glass into a personal work of art. I had not stretched my creative side other than through photography for a long time and it made me realise that I miss working with my hands. It truly is a gratifying and original activity with no experience needed. Fun as a family activity, team building exercise or a girly day-out.

Their half day workshops are run for a minimum of six people and cost R350 per person, including refreshments and two plates/dishes to take home. For more information on the Fanglasstic workshops check HERE.

2. Mellasat Vineyards

I know, I promised activities besides wine, but the Mellasat Vineyards is pretty special and I didn’t want to leave them out. In 1996, Stephen Richardson and his family bought the original Dekkersvlei farm, which dates back to 1693. This boutique winery is now home to the unusual white Pinotage and a range of other award winning wines. Their barrel fermented white Pinotage is a bit of a dichotomy. The eyes see a white wine and the pallet registers more red wine notes – an intriguing conundrum between your visual senses and taste buds.

The recently created Cemetery of Forgotten Wines is an underground cellar with a rather random collection of local wines and the place where they host their gourmet snacks and white Pinotage pairing.

3. Jenny’s Home Dining Experience

Eat with a local is globally growing movement of people, who want to get under the skin of a destination. Jenny Cloete gives you that unique opportunity by opening her home in Paarl to you. She will cook a three course meal giving you a taste of traditional South African cuisine and exchange stories. She has a passion for Cape Malay cooking and will introduce you to delicious dishes, such as begrafnisrys, bobotie, waterblommetjiebredie, melktert and koesisters.

Jenny, her husband Harlan and their three teenage children are a warm and loving family, who share a passion for people and their community with what seems like an open door policy. During our evening a small army of friends of their children was walking in and out of the house hoping to find some morsels left from our scrumptious meal ;-).

At the moment there is no website, but a 3-course meal can be booked by email for R175 per person (including 2 glasses of wine) for a minimum of 5 and a maximum of 10 people.

4. James Sedgwick Distillery

The Wellington area is home to wine, craft beer, brandy, gin and whisky producers – a pretty impressive list of alcoholic beverages, with the latter three not being my cup of tea. As a whisky virgin (I even didn’t know that most people spell whiskey without the e), I wasn’t sure what to expect and whether or not I was going to enjoy a Whisky Experience, especially since we arrived at an early hour of 10 am.

The James Sedgwick Distillery, established in 1886, is the oldest and most renowned distillery in the area with a fleet of whiskies. They handle the entire whisky making process from milling the barley, maize and grain, through to maturation and blending – all part of the new cellar tour and whisky tasting experience. Learning about the whisky making process and seeing their massive maturation storage areas holding literally 1,000s of barrels is hugely interesting and informative. The whisky and food pairing is all about finding your personal favourite fusion of the amber liquid and the yummy snacks by trial and error.

Their Whisky Experience runs on Fridays and Saturdays at 10.00 and 14.00 hrs and can be booked through WebTickets for R350 per person, including a cellar tour, three whisky tastings (Bain’s Cape Mountain, Three Ships Special Release and Three Ships Premium Select Blend) to pair with five different snacks. Groups size maximum of 10 people.

5. Breytenbach Sentrum

Breytenbach Sentrum in Wellington is a multidisciplinary cultural centre for visual and literary arts, drama, music and training. As soon as you enter the centre through their lush Tuin van Digters (Garden of Poets), you can’t escape art. The garden is littered with Afrikaans language poetry, sculptures and secluded places to find inspiration. There is a theatre for drama and music, a gallery/museum with a kaleidoscope of both local and national visual arts, and an arts & crafts shop.

They also train unemployed people in new skills that enables them to set up small businesses and provide workshop space at the centre. Prints is a small textile and screen printing business based at the Breytenbach Centre run by the talented Fahema Zlomke. She designs her own artwork, creates the stencils and hand prints all of her work. Currently, she is working on 8,000 paper carrier bags for Kamers vol Geskenke.

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