On your return from the Klein Karoo Wine Route you’ll wonder how so many bottles of Cape port, muscadel, and a liqueur named The Happy Cow came to be in your possession. Then you’ll remember your jovial hosts, their friendliness, their helpfulness, and their generous hand in the tasting cellar.

Did you know?

Boplaas celebrated 350 years of winemaking in 2009 with a Rosé made from grapes crushed by an elephant.

The Klein Karoo Wine Route lies in a flat semi-arid basin. Around it, the great walls of the Langeberge-Outeniqua and Groot Swartberg Mountains rise up; a rugged stone coronet that wraps around fruitful Montagu in the west, all the way along Barrydale, Calitzdorp and Oudtshoorn, to De Rust near Meiringspoort in the east.

Roughly speaking, vines in the southern part of this area, namely Montagu, Barrydale, and Tradouw up to Ladismith, are planted in the foothills and kloofs of the Langeberge, with its chalky, shallow soil, weathered from the surrounding sandstone mountains. This terroir, combined with a climate of hot days and cool nights, contribute towards the award-winning ruby cabernets, merlots and chardonnays that come out of this region. Don’t miss Barrydale Cellars' highly awarded pot still brandies.

But it's the area between Ladismith and Oudtshoorn that lends a particular character to the wine route in the Klein Karoo, with Calitzdorp at its heart. Here, a semi-desert environment with intense sunshine brings out the deep berry flavours needed for excellent fortified wines like Cape port (although this name may no longer be used due to a European Union ruling).

Likened to the Douro in Portugal, plantings here consist mainly of the grape varieties of Tinta Barocca and Touriga Nacional. Besides creating champion port (called Cape tawny, vintage and ruby in South Africa) and muscadels, winemakers here are experimenting with typical port cultivars to create interesting red wines.

Visit Boplaas, De Krans, Peter Bayly cellars and make a point of trying Axe Hill's pink and white versions.

Muscat varieties flourish around Oudtshoorn in fertile silt where hot days and warm nights bring out the sweet potency needed for semi-sweet and dessert wines. This wine route in the Klein Karoo is also renowned for the quality of its excellent pot still brandies.

Full of wondrous landscapes and warm hospitality, this 17-cellar Klein Karoo winelands ramble is a wine tour with a difference.

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