Situated on the northern side of Paarl on the Paarl/Wellington Road, with spectacular views over
the Klein Drakenstein Mountains, lies Veenwouden, a Boutique winery.
The planting of the new vineyards commenced in 1989, and by 1993 12 ha was finally under wine vines.
Veenwouden is wholly contained within a valley, and the vineyards lie on a gentle slope, facing northeast towards the Berg River. From the Atlantic Ocean, some 60 kilometers away, cool breezes penetrate the valley to influence the local climate in an almost Mediterranean way. Good winter rainfalls of between 600-650 mm per annum, paired with comparatively long summers, with average annual temperatures generally ranging between 20-23 degrees Celsius, ensure excellent growth.
The cool rich ferrous clay subsoil of Veenwouden is quite unique for this area, and fortuitously happens to be superb soil for especially the Merlot and Cabernet Franc grape. This fact, combined with the excellent micro climate found on the farm, provides an environment in which the grapes can flourish, ensuring the highest possible quality.
The current vine complement is:
Merlot - 7.40ha
Cabernet Sauvignon - 3.55ha
Cabernet Franc - 0.8ha
Malbec - 0.25ha
The Boutique cellar (with a capacity of a 100 tons) is loosely based on the functionality of the smaller Pomerol/St.Emilion Chateaux, combining the architectual charms of Tuscany, Provence, and the Cape.
Because Veenwouden is a very small winery it was decided to plant only the noble cultivars and to limit the yield to a maximum of 5 tons per hectare to attain the highest possible quality.
The grapes are all hand-picked and transported to the cellar in small 10 kg crates, where they are fed into the crusher. Because of the relatively small tonnage, a small crusher is used, which allows thorough inspection of each bunch prior to crushing, thus ensuring that only the best grapes pass muster.
The wines have their initial fermentation and colour extraction in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks, where the juice is continually pumped over the skins to obtain the maximum colour. They are then aged in 80% new 225 liter French oak barrels. Finally, after many tastings, the team decides whether the wine is ready to leave the barrels, to be bottled. The farm handles all the bottling, corking and labelling of the wine.
The area that is now known as Paarl was first inhabited by the Khoikhoi and San people. The Peninsular Khoikhoi people and the Cochoqua people lived in this area divided by the Berg River Valley. The Cochaqua were cattle herding people and among the richest of the Khoi tribes. They had between 16,000-18,000 members and originally called Paarl Mountain, Tortoise Mountain.
The Dutch East India Company under the leadership of Jan van Riebeeck established meat trading relationships with the Khoikhoi people on the Table Bay coastline. In 1657, in search of new trading relationships inland, Abraham Gabemma saw a giant granite rock glistening in the sun after a rainstorm and named it "de Diamondt en de Peerlberg� (Diamond and Pearl Mountain) from which Paarl is derived. Gabemma (often also spelled Gabbema) was the Fiscal (public treasurer) for the settlement on the shores of Table Bay. The "diamonds" disappeared from the name and it became known simply as Pearl Rock or Pearl Mountain.
In 1687, Governor Simon van der Stel gave title to the first colonial farms in the area to "free burghers". The following year, the French Huguenots arrived in the Western Cape and began to settle on farms in the area. The fertile soil and the Mediterranean-like climate of this region provided perfect conditions for farming. The settlers planted orchards, vegetable gardens and above all, vineyards. Thus began Paarl's long and continuing history as a major wine and fruit producing area of South Africa.