Beer. Chocolate. Even grappa. You’ll find a unique combination of artisanal products – and great wine – at The Spice Route estate in Paarl, a 40-minute drive from Cape Town.
Many estates in the winelands around Cape Town focus on one product: wine. Spice Route, however, goes further to become a one-stop shop for a range of goods from wine to beer, chocolate and more.
The reason it works so well is that great care has been taken in the selection of a range of artisanal producers whose produce perfectly complements the wine.
First and foremost, Spice Route is well worth visiting for the wine alone. The brainchild of Charles Back, owner of neighbouring estate Fairview, Spice Route was one of the first wineries to make use of the older vineyards of the Swartland wine region north of Cape Town. The result is a range of superb wines that will remind wine lovers of the Rhone valley and Languedoc. Their Mourvedre and Grenache are superb, as is the Rhone-style blend, Chakalaka.
Once you’ve sipped and swirled your way through a wine tasting it’s essential to explore the rest of the estate. Bean-to-bar chocolate-maker Pieter de Villiers moved his small facility from Hermanus to Spice Route in early 2012 and today turns out wonderful artisan chocolates. Your best option here is a guided tasting, where you’ll sample their 70% single-origin bars made with beans from Trinidad, Uganda and Madagascar.
Down the hill you’ll find the Wilderer Distillery, where you can taste the delicious range of grappa and fruit spirits from Master Distiller Helmut Wilderer. Alongside the distillery, their casual La Grapparia Restaurant offers wood-fired pizza, flammkuchen and tapas at rustic outdoor tables.
Lastly, don’t miss the Cape Brewing Company run by respected brewmaster Wolfgang Koedel. He brews up a range of excellent beers, including a pilsner, weiss and India Pale Ale. Enjoy a guided tasting in the brewery, or hop next door for a beer and a bite at the Barley & Biltong brewpub.