South Africa is famous for its spectacular wine estates and award-winning wines, but you don’t have to stick to the more traditional wine-growing areas of the Western Cape to enjoy the fruit of its vines. Since the first vineyards were established near the Orange River several decades ago, the Northern Cape has cultivated a solid reputation for wine tourism and excellent vintages.
South Africa’s largest province boasts around 17 wineries and more than 4 000 hectares of vineyards under cultivation. So, while you’re likely to visit the Northern Cape for its open vistas, clear skies, wildlife, spring flowers, natural beauty and much more, it’s a great idea to add wine tasting and buying to your itinerary.
With around 10% of South Africa’s vineyards located in the Orange River Valley and southern Kalahari, and several wine farms dotted in other parts of the Northern Cape, visiting its wineries will give you the chance to explore many of the province’s tourism hubs and smaller settlements, while taking in its distinct culture and enjoying its warm hospitality.
Summer temperatures in the Northern Cape can be scorching, so the winter months are a good time to visit its wine areas – temperatures during the day should be pleasantly warm, but they can drop dramatically during the night, so don’t forget to bring a warm jacket!
Here’s a snapshot of some of the wine estates to visit on your next trip to the Northern Cape:
Bezalel Wine & Brandy Estate
The Bezalel Wine & Brandy Estate is situated near Upington in the Green Kalahari and forms part of the Kokerboom Food and & Wine Route.
The cellar produces red and white wines from grapes harvested on the estate. The estate also has a distillery that produces brandy, liqueurs and traditional South African high-alcohol mampoer and witblits (types of “homebrew” brandy).
The tasting room is open on weekdays, and on Saturdays until 3pm, for tastings and sales. You can also order a food platters to go with your tipple. Should you want to stay over, Bezalel’s Country House offers farm-style accommodation.
Orange River Cellars
Founded in 1965, Orange River Cellars produced its first wines at Upington Cellars in 1968. Since then, the cooperative added cellars in Groblershoop, Grootdrink, Kakamas and Keimoes. The vineyards stretch over a distance of more than 350km.
Visit the wine tasting centre at the head office in Upington to taste and buy the estate’s extensive selection of dry white wine, natural sweet and dry red wine, as well as dessert wines. The cooperative, which is one of the largest in the world in terms of the amounts of tons harvested, also produces grape juice.
Die Mas van Kakamas
Another award-winning wine estate on the banks of the Orange River is Die Mas near Kakamas, 80km from Upington. In addition to export grapes and raisins, the farm also produces award-winning wines and brandies.
The wine cellar is open six days a week for wine and brandy tastings – no appointment needed – and visitors can buy its wines, brandy, gin and dessert wines at cellar prices, as well as home-made jams, chutneys, raisins and green figs.
If you fancy staying over, the estate offers self-catering chalets, camping and a restaurant.
Hartswater Wine Cellar
The Hartswater Wine Cellar, which first produced wine in 1977, is situated outside the small agricultural town of Hartswater, about 120km from Kimberley. The estate is open for tasting and sales from Mondays to Fridays, while cellar tours can be booked in advance.
Landzicht GWK Wines
Landzicht GWK Wines has two cellars, one in the small town of Jacobsdal in the Free State just about 15km from the Northern Cape border, and one in Douglas in the Northern Cape, near the confluence of the Orange and Vaal Rivers. The operation, first founded in 1974, has won a number of prestigious local and international prizes for its wines.
Landzicht GWK Wines produces noble grape cultivars, including chenin blanc, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and red and white muscadels.