The Modern Day Spice Route
Words Shan Routledge
Never heard of The Spice Route? You are missing out. But I’m not talking about centuries ago when you had to wait for the seasonal return of traders travelling from around the world bringing with them exotic flavours… I’m talking about our modern day Spice Route in Paarl. Described as a ‘sensory feast’, the Spice Route has something for everyone and is an experience to tantalise even the most discerning palate.
With the Cape Town autumn stretching out before us there are many days when the sun is shining brightly, the air is crisp and fresh and the wine region has changed from rolling hills of green to iridescent oranges, flaming reds and brilliant yellows. So if you are wondering how best to take advantage of these perfect weekends before the winter rains set in, look no further.
Whether you are with the family, exploring with friends, at a birthday party, on a romantic date or even planning a bachelor’s party – the Spice Route caters for all. So, not surprisingly, it has developed as a great day-trip destination.
“The vision for Spice Route is to offer local and international tourists a selection of hand-picked artisanal producers who put as much thought, skill and passion into their products as Spice Route Winemaker, Charl du Plessis, puts into his wines,” says Spice Route Wines owner, Charles Back.
As in centuries ago, the Spice Route is all about marrying flavours and experiences, and they have carefully selected a collection of artisans who showcase their produce in innovative and interactive ways. These include:
Barley & Biltong: This beer garden with a local twist offers a tasting selection of Kudu, Beef and Springbok Biltong to compliment their fantastic selection of craft beers. You can also choose from a selection of German and local light meals such a baked pretzels, bratwurst or boerie rolls, all the while, marvelling at the incredible view of Table Mountain on the horizon.
CBC is an independent craft beer company that brews a variety of beers using the finest ingredients. Beer lovers can enjoy a beer tasting while viewing the facilities and the entire beer production process.
If beer isn’t what you are craving and you have a bit of a sweet tooth, head over to the DV Artisan Chocolate Bar where you can taste the diverse range of chocolate flavour combinations that they have developed, including chili, masala, salt and rose. DV Chocolates is one of only a few ‘Bean to Bar’ micro batch chocolate makers in the world so you can also learn about the chocolate making process. Combine it with a beautifully brewed coffee from the roastery and espresso bar, or, if it’s too hot for coffee, grab a gelato.
For something a bit different head to the Grapparia where you can see the distilling process at the Wilderer Distillery and taste a variety of grappa and schnapps – even a fynbos infused one. Master distiller, Helmut Wilderer, has crafted some of the finest grappas, which have won numerous gold and double gold medals! But watch out – it’s a bit stronger than the beer!
You can follow all this up with a snack by splitting one of the delicious oven baked pizzas or a plate of tapas under the oak trees or, if winter is starting to creep in, cosied up next to the fire. Or if you have more of an appetite, head over to the Spice Route Restaurant, which supports a menu with a fusion of traditional South African food and Spice Route influences.
For a bit of eye-candy take a wander through the art gallery and watch one of the local artists in action or browse Red Hot Glass, the molten blown glass studio, where you can purchase one of a kind original pieces.
Finally there is the wine tasting where you can test your palate on Charl du Plessis’ incredible wines. You can choose from a selection of wine tasting journeys including one which pairs the decadent wines with DV chocolates.
There’s no set programme so you can start your day wherever you like with no particular order or destination in mind. Amble from the chocolate tasting to the beer tasting before stopping for lunch at one of three restaurants and then back for more tasting experiences if you haven’t had enough!
Only 40 minutes’ drive from the city and 800m from Fairview Wine and Cheese, the Spice Route is perfect for a weekend day-trip. Now that you know about it make sure you don’t miss out!