If there is one word that describes the Klein Karoo it would be ‘resilient’. The rugged beauty of the landscape surrounded by blue mountains offers an escape to a place where time seems to move slower, the air feels fresher and the stars shine brighter.
We recently took a road trip on Route 62 all the way from Montagu to De Rust, stopping at wine farms, cellars, and friendly farm stalls to tell you about our favourite finds. Be warned though, we lost our hearts in the Klein Karoo and chances are you will too.
The peace and quiet here is palpable. The varied landscape makes this a route of micro-climates, each with its own unique taste and flavour. No other wine route offers quite this much variety over such a vast distance.
Follow in our footsteps and taste these wines, visit these sites, try these experiences and cosy up at these accommodation providers:
Get started with Muscadel at Montagu Winery
Just two hours from Cape Town we make our first stop at Montagu Winery. This winery was founded in 1941 and although a lot has changed since then, it remains a gem on the route. Their rich and fruity Muscat and well-rounded red and white Muscadels are a highlight. Their team all love the Chenin Blanc and it’s easy to taste why. Stop by the cellar for a tasting and take a bottle or two home for winter nights by the fire or to enjoy with loved ones on joyful occasions.
For more info visit: www.montaguwines.co.za
Stock up at Akkerboom Trading Store
The trademarks of a good ‘padstal’ or farm stall are homemade goods, preserves, and freshly baked bread and pies. At Akkerboom Trading Store near Barrydale they take it one step further with fresh fruit from the region and of course tons of wine! The wine they sell here is none other than the boutique label Star Hill Wines. This region is called the Tradouw Highlands as it’s situated on a plateau some 750 meters above sea level, creating a climate ideal for fruit and wine production. The region is home to Tradouw Fruit, which grows and exports fruit like apples and pears. Stop here for a quick bite or to restock your ‘padkos’ (food for the road) supply and be sure to taste their wines while you’re here. Their nearby Akkerboom Country Cottages and Killarney Trout Cottages are also very popular accommodation spots, so be sure to book a spot if you’d like to stay here a bit longer.
For more details visit: www.starhillwines.com
Eat and be merry at Joubert-Tradauw wine cellar & the R62 Deli Alfresco
A wall of wild sage with thousands of purple flowers and a perfect blue sky is our backdrop to a Mediterranean-style lunch with Klein Karoo flair at the Joubert-Tradauw wine cellar and R62 Deli Alfresco just outside Barrydale. Large dishes of tasty tapas are served to guests in the shade of overhanging vines, and the aromas are intoxicating. While the winemaker Meyer Joubert pours his heart and soul into his winemaking and wines, his wife Beate has done the same with the food on the menu and on the plates of their guests. Together they capture the essence of the Klein Karoo beautifully and the joy they find in what they do is obvious. Like the title of Beate’s cooking book suggests, here you can really “taste the Klein Karoo”.
Find out more here: www.joubert-tradauw.com
Recharge and sleep in style at Mymering Guest Farm and Wine Estate
At this four star guest farm and wine estate you can soak up all the serenity and silence you need to feel refreshed and recharged. Home to Hillock Wines, Mymering is located in the Dwarsrivier Valley near the town of Ladismith. It’s close to town, but the farm is surrounded by nature reserves, including the Towerkop and Anysberg reserves, so you’ll feel like you’re somewhere far off. They have several private and luxurious suites available, some even fitted with a plunge pool with a view. The farm also has a restaurant where you can enjoy three-course meals with your Hillock Wine of choice.
Find more info here: www.mymering.co.za
Try a chocolate and port pairing at Boplaas
Next we head to Calitzdorp, home to the Nel family’s Boplaas wine cellar and tasting room. The hardy Portuguese grape Tinta Barocca is at the heart of this winery’s range and they are renowned and loved for their unique Portuguese-style table wines. The family also has a proud tradition of distilling pot still brandy, releasing South Africa’s first estate pot still 5-year-old brandy in 1994. Their love and passion for what they do has also led them to broadening their catalogue to include their own whiskey and graft gin, including South Africa’s first port-infused gin. The farm is a family-run business and you’ll feel like you’re visiting friends when you step into their tasting room to do a wine tasting or chocolate and port pairing.
For more info please visit: www.boplaas.co.za
Take it easy at Peter Bayly’s
A dirt road just outside of Calitzdorp leads to a secluded patch of heaven on earth for Peter and Yvonne Bayly. They headed to the Groenfontein Valley nearly two decades ago to fulfil their dream of making artisanal wines in the peaceful landscape of the Klein Karoo. Chickens and dogs greet you as you stop on their picturesque farm to taste some of their wines. A wine tasting at their place is unlike any you’ve experienced before as they personally welcome you to pull up a chair and pour you a glass of their boutique wine to enjoy on their large, sunny veranda overlooking their vineyard.
Find out more here: www.peterbayly.co.za
Befriend meerkats just outside Oudtshoorn
As we head further up the R62, the mountains get bluer and the landscape seems to get drier but somehow even more beautiful. It’s hard to imagine the kind of animal that flourishes in this environment, until we meet a family of meerkats outside of Oudtshoorn. Collectively called a ‘mob’ or ‘gang’, meerkats are shy and skittish members of the mongoose family. Luckily the team from Five Shy Meerkats have spent so much time with this particular ‘gang’ of meerkats that they have lost their wariness of people. It’s as if they can block out the voices of people, but remain hyper vigilant for the faintest rustle on the ground (even the sound of a wasp sends them ducking for the safety of their underground home). We head out to find the meerkats at sunrise and sightings can take anywhere from two minutes to a couple of hours. When the ‘mob’ poke their heads out and one by one rise to stand in the sun all will be forgiven.
Find out more here: www.fiveshymeerkats.co.za
Feast on pizza and gin cocktails at Karusa
Karusa is a winery, craft brewery and orchard in the Oudtshoorn area. Here you can stop to enjoy a pizza or tapas with a great glass of Karusa wine or a gin cocktail. On a hot summer’s day their cold craft beers are also a fantastic option to sip on beneath their tall willow tree overlooking the beautiful surrounds. They also have a great gift shop where you can buy local products and honey harvested on the farm. Their gin cocktails are super tasty and they’re made using gin from another local producer, Grundheim wines. This is also a convenient stop on the way to the famous Cango Caves, a must when visiting the area.
For more info please visit: www.karusa.co.za
Go horseback riding and stargazing at Doornkraal
Doornkraal, a farm just ten minutes outside of the town of De Rust, has been in the loving hands of five generations of the Le Roux family. They have two cottages you can stay in on the farm. One is big enough for a family or group of five while the other is a cosy place for solo travellers, couples or small families. You can hike on the farm, go cycling, or explore the farm on horseback. Here you’ll experience a level of hospitality you wouldn’t imagine possible as the family welcomes visitors with open arms and takes personal care of their guests. You can go for sunset horse rides and try some of the Doornkraal wines as the sun sets over the magnificent landscape. The starry night sky will leave you in awe as an endless blanket of stars fill up the heavens.
Find out more: www.doornkraal.co.za
End off with wine at Herold Wines
Our route takes us all the way to the Outeniqua Mountains where the Klein Karoo and the Garden Route meet. On the border of these two worlds is Herold Wines, a farm on a high altitude with massive open spaces and wonderful views. Their restaurant offers up rustic meals and the hands-on winemaker Nico Fourie personally chats patrons through the wines. It has a calming atmosphere that you’ll want to bask in. They also offer accommodation on the farm and there are plenty of hiking routes in the area to explore in-between wine tasting.
For more info visit: www.heroldwines.co.za