“It’s just a perfect road-trip,” declares Doornkraal Farm Stall owner Celia le Roux suddenly.
We’re sitting on the stoep of her well-known roadside wine shop, deep in rural Klein Karoo territory, and she’s punting the Garden Route. “Drive the R44 from Montagu to Oudtshoorn, then head back via George and the Garden Route,” she adds.
The leg home has its own share of wineries too. And before you leave the arid hinterland behind, make a stop at Herold Wines, set among the peaks of the Outeniqua Mountains.
Then, lookout for five wineries and tasting rooms that lie off the N2.
1. Donegal, George
Donegal is the enterprise of Carl Ahlström and Dr Ansua Steyn. Carl acquired the 1,5ha smallholding near George in 2002. A new maturation cellar was built in 2019 with the subsequent launch of a tasting room. Donegal wines are produced in the Paardeberg region of the Swartland and matured in barrel on the Garden Route. A re-zoning application in March 2020 has also made allowance for a potential distillery.
Wine is bottled on site, once a year, using a mobile bottling unit.
As for the derivation of the name, Carl says: “Donegal is an Irish town, and my wife was the town doctor for seven years. So, when I asked her to marry, I asked her in Donegal… the rest is history.”
Donegal is open Monday to Friday, 9:00 to 17:00, and weekends, 12:00 to 17:00.
2. ReedValley Wines, Mossel Bay
The turn-off to ReedValley Wines on the R327 is situated near the Mossgas facility. The family enterprise was established in 2015 by lawyer duo Willem and Heidi de Jager and offers visitors the opportunity to taste and buy wines bottled under the Eden Valley label. Son Francois is in his final year of studies at Elsenburg for his formal qualification as winemaker, but already makes the wines. Fruit is purchased from some of the Cape’s premier regions and currently produced at an off-site winery. The plan is to construct a cellar at ReedValley Farm next year, and to further develop the 3ha of vineyards currently planted. Daughter Michelle is an award-winning chef and runs their restaurant, which regularly hosts live music events.
3. Jakkalsvlei Private Cellar, Herbertsdale
One of only two in this line-up with its own vineyards, Jakkalsvlei is one of the region’s most well-supported destinations. Further down the R327, near Herbertsdale.
In addition to its selection of wines, the property has a large bistro restaurant that often fills to capacity during events such as the annual hanepoot-picking festival. Pairings feature wine with fudge, cheese, dry meat (including bokkoms and pork crackling), charcuterie, chocolate and prawns.
Jakkalsvlei is owned by the Jonker family, which acquired the land in 1972. The first vineyard – Chenin Blanc – was planted here in 1987. Third-generation Jonker, Jantjie, settled on the farm in 2007 and launched the Jakkalsvlei label a year later. To this has been added the limited Lord Jackal range, while the vineyards currently comprise 34ha.
The farm’s wines are made by Jantjie and Louis le Seuer van der Riet, who also uses cellar space to produce his eponymous range that showcases terroir of the Klein Karoo.
Backroad tip: If you have time, spend the night at Dagbreek self-catering cottage at Mandaryn Farm near to Jakkalsvlei. Then, continue on the road past the winery and follow directions to Albertinia. The gravel road is a wonderfully scenic detour.
4. Baleia Wines, Riversdale
Most travellers along the N2 first encounter Baleia at its winery and tasting room just outside Riversdale. The vineyards however are located on Dassieklip Farm, some 30km south of the town – near Vermaaklikheid. Baleia Wines and olive oils have been the business of the Joubert family since 2009.
Capetonian Gunter Schultz serves as general manager and winemaker, employing terracotta amphora, French oak barrels and large format Foudre casks among his tools. The wines include reds and whites, as well as a limited release port-style wine.
Olive trees were planted on the farm in 2008 and from these Baleia also produces Extra Virgin Cold-Pressed Oil. It has a brand of roasted coffee too and offers self-catering accommodation on Dassieklip Farm.
The tasting room is open Monday to Friday, 09:00 to 17:00, and Saturday and public holidays from 09:00 to 17:00.
5. Olivedale Private Vineyards, Swellendam
Olivedale may be found by turning off the N2 at Buffeljagsrivier, just before Swellendam. The area is surprisingly rich in history and includes the renovated former home of the district’s first governor.
Wine was sporadically made in the area, winemaker Carl van Wijck tells us when we visit, though it has been modern winemaking know-how and winery that have given Olivedale staying power. The cellar is located in a large, nondescript warehouse. Part of the floor is reserved for Carl’s office, which is lined with antiques. Classical music is almost always playing to the wines in tanks at the other end.
Olivedale has some 22ha under vine, supplying fruit to the winemaking team, which along with Carl comprises Abe Beukes and Jolene Calitz le Roux. There’s a range of red and white wines, and a 2015 Late Harvest called Queen of Africa. Tastings are available by appointment only.