The Cape winelands are a treasure trove of precious experiences and hidden gems. If only you knew a local to show you around! Our Insider’s Guide is like your long-lost best friend in each of the Cape’s 10 wine-producing regions. And you’ve been invited over.
If it’s character you’re after, the Klein Karoo Wine Route is worth a visit. A bit homelier than the polished look of Stellenbosch and Constantia, South Africa’s easternmost wine region stretches along the popular tourist Route 62, from Montagu in the west to the Outeniqua Mountains in the east. The climate, drier than other areas and in some places not unlike that of Portugal, is suitable for growing several (mostly organic) grape varieties. The mountains fringing on the Klein Karoo have unique terroir pockets for the production of cultivars such as Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.
If you enjoy going off the beaten track, this area offers many hidden gems. Here’s a great travel tip: The Klein Karoo Wine Route officials have done all the hard work for you by outlining four day trips on the region’s official website. To check out the routes go to kleinkaroowines.co.za.
The foodie’s Klein Karoo
Herold Wines, situated high in the Outeniqua Mountains, produces excellent Sauvignon Blanc. Its portfolio includes a Riesling, Pinot Noir, Red Blend and a natural sweet wine with the lovely name Laatlammetjie. The farm offers accommodation in the form of refurbished labourers’ cottages. Visitors can enjoy cellar tours, light lunches, picnics, cycling, bird-watching and swimming in the farm dam. Another special feature is a visit to the authentic San Bushmen drawings on the farm.
For award-winning dessert wines visit Excelsior-Vlakteplaas near De Rust where winemaker Danie Schoeman is the fifth generation on the farm. Note, the cellar on this working ostrich and goat farm is open only by appointment. En route from De Rust to Oudtshoorn lies Doornkraal, home of the iconic winemaker Swepie le Roux’s family. The Doornkraal farm stall sells beautifully packaged culinary delights such as kweperkaas (quince cheese), karoobossiesout (Karoo bush salt), homemade vinegar and a dessert wine chilli sauce aptly named Kwaaimansous. The dessert wines also bear interesting names such as Kaptein and Luitenant. Or you might like to try the flamboyant Tickled Pink sparkling wine.
Karusa Vineyards in the Schoemanshoek Valley close to Oudtshoorn is home to a winery and craft brewery. Stop here on your way to the Cango Caves for a pizza or platter of locally sourced products. If heading for Calitzdorp visit Grundheim Craft Distillery which is known for its double-distilled witblits, brandy and popular Black Mountain Gin. They still use traditional wood-fired pot stills and visitors can see how the spirits are made.
In Calitzdorp, home to South Africa’s port kings, you can visit big names such as Boplaas, De Krans and Calitzdorp Cellar, and taste their award-winning port and table wines. You can also try offerings from smaller producers such as Peter Bayly Wines on the Groenrivier Road or Axe Hill Wines. Du’SwaRoo makes table wines from Portuguese cultivars, along with olives and a range of other deli products. Stay over in the Herminashof cottage on Withoek, a boutique cellar that’s open by appointment only.
If heading for Ladismith, visit Hillock Wines and stay over in the Mymering guest house or cottage. Sip Shiraz while taking in the beauty of your surroundings or dine at the gourmet restaurant.
Near Barrydale, Joubert-Tradauw offers award-winning wine and deli fare at Deli Alfresco. Clearly they know what they’re about as Beate Joubert’s Taste the Little Karoo was the Best Local Cuisine category winner in the 2015 Gourmand World Cookbook Awards.
Following the R62 toward Montagu, Star Hill Wines is nestled in the Tradouw Highlands about 750 metres above sea level. This estate produces wine, apples and pears and offers accommodation and trout fishing. Montagu Wine & Spirits Company and Montagu Wine Cellar are renowned for their sweet Muscadel, providing visitors with a suitable end to an adventure-filled road trip.
The adventurer’s Klein Karoo
Mention Oudtshoorn and you immediately think adventure and exploring the Cango Caves, diving with crocodiles and riding ostriches. But the region offers loads of less daunting activities such as hiking, horse riding, game viewing in several nature reserves, rock-climbing, ziplining, fruit-picking and relaxing at hot springs, to mention but a few. l
Klein Karoo wineries:
Montagu Wine and Spirit Company
Star Hill Wines
The cultural enthusiast’s
Oudtshoorn, with its rich cultural history, is worth a trip. Visit Arbeidsgenot and the CJ Langenhoven and CP Nel Museums. The town still boasts spectacular ostrich mansions, built by feather barons at the turn of the previous century. And don’t forget the annual Klein Karoo National Arts Festival where the country’s top artists and performers gather near Easter for a feast of theatre, music and art.
Joubert-Tradauw in Barrydale regularly hosts music festivals such as the popular Unplugged 62 festival. For festival dates, go to www.joubert-tradauw.com/unplugged62-festival/. And if this sounds too much like hard work, simply sit outside in the evening and look upwards to see the world’s greatest art gallery.