Karoo Wine Tasting on the R62
A few weeks ago I decided to propose to my girlfriend, Laura, and ever since I have been up to my ears in wedding plans. We decided to get married next December, which means we needed to book a venue asap. We narrowed our search down to two venues, Garden Route Game Lodge in Albertina and Buffelsdrift Game Lodge in Oudtshoorn. We couldn’t make a big decision purely based on photos, so we decided to take a long-weekend road trip and use the brand new tent Laura got me for my birthday.
Conveniently enough, the Cape Route 62 will take you along the longest wine route in the Western Cape.
We started out on Friday afternoon on the N2 out of the city. It’s almost 6 hours to Oudtshoorn so we decided to break the trip up and spend the night at a camp site around Swellendam. After some helpful advice from a store manager in Swellendam, we headed to Montagu, Muscadel Country to visit Montagu Cellars. Muscadel is a sweet, full rounded wine with rich fruit flavours that is drunk on crushed ice or at room temperature. A little different to a normal wine but I must say I love it. I also tried their Chenin and Pinotage which were not bad.
We ended up at the Guano Caves in Montagu. They luckily had one camp site left (I highly recommend booking in advance, the place was packed), so we settled in for the evening. While the hot spring fed pools were nice, the best part about this place was the massive petting zoo. They must have over a thousand animals, everything from giant rabbits, to camels, to goats.
After the goats polished off the rest of the food, we packed up camp and got back on Route 62. The next vineyard we stopped at was Joubert-Tradauw Vineyard in Barrydale. The winemaker, Meyer Joubert, was behind the tasting desk so we were treated to a full tasting of their range. The 2012 barrel-fermented chardonnay was superb, however the real treat was when he took us into the back to sample his Pinot Noir which was still in the barrel. This Pinot Noir was big and voluptuous, very earthy and able to hold its own against other big red wines. it was so nice I’d consider buying several barrels. Always makes difference when the wine maker takes time with you and takes you on the extra little bit that really like vineyard. It will hold a special little place in my heart.
Our final vineyard was Karusa Winery which also makes craft beer. Their Viognier and Pintoage were the winners of that tasting. While it might sound surprising that Oudtshoorn produces amazing wine, the vines in the Klein Karoo are under stress from the amount of heat they are exposed to, which makes their wines bold. The initial taste is of honeysuckle but then develops to spicy notes at the back of the palate.
It was now time to head to our next campsite for the evening, Oppi Dam. As the name describes, the campsite is around a big dam. The campsites were excellent, each had their own bathroom, shower and picnic table.
The next morning we had our first meeting with Buffelsdrift Game Lodge. Their wine list was winner of the Diamond Dinners Club in 2012 and selects their wines from the Klein Karoo region. However, the real stars of the show are their three elephants.
The accommodation is not bad either…
On our way our of Oudtshoorn we had to make a little stop at the vineyards of Sandkoppies, home of Grundheim. Their brandy and Witblitz will take your breath away! Great place for you to get those cool things for your bar. Brandslang is must.
Our next stop was Garden Route Game Lodge in Albertina just outside of Mossel Bay.
Garden Route Game Lodge is a Big Five game reserve conveniently located about 3 hours from Cape Town. On our evening and morning game drives we were able to see cheetah, giraffes, elephants and lions to name a few. Another meeting to chat wedding options and a coffee with the owner, Anthony Doherty (who is an old school mate of mine), and we were back on the road home. Great little trip with some fine wines and great people.