Visit Winelands

At first glance, the Karoo town of Graaff Reinet may seem to have little association with wine, but there’s good news for wine lovers taking a trip to the region. 

Among the highlights is Graaff Reinet’s ancient grapevine of the Black Acorn variety, planted in 1870. It’s not the oldest, but certainly a close second to the Gross Chenin Blanc sown in 1771 that still thrives in the Cape Town CBD. Also, it once had a thriving home-distilling industry recalled by the withond (white dog) spirit sold at the local museum. According to one source, Graaff-Reinet – an illustrated historical guide (2008), “The region produced large quantities [of grape spirit]. In 1855, the income from brandy (sic) and wine exceeded that of wool, hides, dried fruit, and wheat.” 

Of a more contemporary nature, however, is the De Camdeboo Wijnkamer at 30 Church Street – the town’s only store dedicated to fine wine. The wine shop is an extension of the famous Drostdy Hotel, which has a fascinating history itself. 

Construction of the building was completed in 1806 and it was initially used for government business that included housing the local magistrate. In 1878 it was acquired by Henry Kromm who first ushered it into its legacy as a hotel.

The building was restored to its original Cape Dutch style in the late 1970s after it was acquired by the Oudemeester Group of Dr. Anton Rupert in association with his Historical Homes of South Africa company. Later, in 1987, the hotel was declared a national monument.

Wijnkamer 3
De Camdeboo Wijnkamer
Drostdy Hotel Wine Shop 1
Drostdy Hotel Wine Shop

In 2013, the five-star hotel underwent another large-scale refurbishment and was reopened the following year under the management of Newmark Hotels. The year 2014 was also when De Camdeboo Wijnkamer opened its doors, sharing the regionally appropriate name with the hotel’s De Camdeboo Restaurant.

Both enjoy the benefits of the Rupert Family’s long and expanded ties to South Africa’s wine industry. The hotel’s vinoteque is a veritable treasure trove of rare and old wines, among them, bearing the names of Chateau Cheval Blanc, Bouchard Pere & Fils, Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Chateau Margaux, and Chateau Latour.

There are over 60 different wines in the maturation cellar, with international wines from Spain, France, Italy, Germany, and Argentina. All are overseen by passionate food and beverage manager Pieter Arendse. 

Wijnkamer Binne 1
Wijnkamer selection
Pieter Arendse
Pieter Arendse, Food and Beverage Manager

As might be expected, the high street store offers the wines and spirits from the Rupert Family’s La Motte, Leopards Leap, Rupert & Rothschild, Anthonij Rupert, and L’Ormarins wineries though not exclusively. Visitors will also find selections from brands including Waterford Estate, Rust en Vrede, Welbedacht, Tokara, De Wetshof and De Morgenzon.

De Camdeboo Wijnkamer and Drostdy Hotel occasionally host and participate in public and private wine events. Most recently there was the Shiraz and Venison Festival dinner, featuring Cederberg Wines and those from Anthonij Rupert Wyne; and, the Karoo Classique celebration of 50 years of the Cap Classique style.

The wine shop has also been an annual participant in the Karoo Wine Club’s Stoep Tasting, which was also launched in 2014. The event is traditionally held in May and draws visitors from around the country, who taste wine at stalls set up around town and in nearby Nieu Bethesda. This year, some 74 estates participated with a few breweries and craft gin too. About 2 500 tickets were sold.

According to De Camdeboo Wijnkamer manager, Anra Smith, wine tastings are on offer with a cheese platter to share.

Under the current adjusted Level 1 regulations, the De Camdeboo Wijnkamer is open Monday to Friday, from 10:00 to 18:00. For more information, follow De Camdeboo Wijnkamer on Facebook.

Wijnkamer Binne 4
Delicious cheese platter that accompanies wine tastings
Wijnkamer Binne 3
Top wines on display