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.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Klein Karoo Wine Route
Tel: +27 (0)28 572 1284
Cell: +27 (0)86 528 4055
Email: info@kleinkaroowines.co.za

How to get here

The Klein Karoo Wine Route can be reached via the following routes: From Graaff Reinet (R341) and Meiringspoort near De Rust in the East From Uniondale via the Langkloof (R62) in the East From George (N2) via the Outeniqua Pass in the South East From Mossel Bay (N2) via the Robinson Pass in the South From Montagu (R62) in the West

Best time to visit

May is festival time in many small towns in the Klein Karoo. From August – October the route is at its most beautiful – a spectacle of fruit orchards, blossoms, wildflower carpets, and lush vineyards.

Around the area

Cango Caves, ostrich farms, crocodile cage-diving and meerkat safaris in Oudsthoorn. South Africa’s greatest mountain passes the Swartberg, Outeniqua, Montagu, Robinson, Seweweekspoort and Meiringspoort traverse the Little Karoo.

Tours to do

Oudtshoorn’s Art, Cheese and Wine Route; the Little Karoo Mermaid Trail; Langkloof Fruit Route; R62 Brandy Route

Get around

Self-drive is the way to go, so you can explore this 220km route, and all the good bits in-between, at leisure.

What will it cost

The cost of a tasting varies from estate to estate – phone ahead or enquire at the cellar door.

Length of stay

Take a few days.

What to pack

Karoo temperatures can vary greatly because the area is semi-desert. Wear seasonal appropriate clothing, and sun protection is essential. You may wish to bring a telescope to admire the Karoo's clear skies.

Where to stay

Lentelus Farm, Barrydale; Rosenhof Country House, Calitzdorp Country House, ‘Ostrich Palace’, Oudtshoorn; Mimosa Lodge, Montagu

What to eat

Stone-fruit, deciduous fruit and table grapes from Langkloof and Montagu. Oudtshoorn ostrich and cheese, Ladismith's lamb, venison and brandy.

Best buys

Fresh and dried fruits, and wines.