Although it’s only an hour’s drive from Cape Town, and one of SA’s largest wine-growing regions, don’t be surprised if you haven’t heard of the Breedekloof. Yet.
Set just beyond the jagged peaks of the Du Toits Kloof Mountains, the Breedekloof is often overlooked by wine lands day-trippers and weekend escape artists. But that’s beginning to change, with country-chic accommodation and a new energy among the region’s young winemakers. Here’s how to get the best out of the Breedekloof …
THE HOME OF CHENIN
Although there’s more than 12,000ha under vineyard, when it comes to a rep for fine wine the Breedekloof has long lagged behind its more famous cousins over the mountains. For generations most of the grapes here have been grown for making brandy, or mass-market wines you’d rather not remember the morning after.
But a crop of young winemakers — under the banner of the Breedekloof Makers — are favouring quality over quantity, with boutique estates and established players showing why Breedekloof chenin blanc is the one to watch. Cellars worth seeking out include Daschbosch, Deetlefs, Opstal and Olifantsberg.
With dozens of wineries to discover your best bet is allowing a night or three in the area. Top of your list in the Slanghoek valley should be the swish cottages of Opstal Stay.
Pitched high on a hillside, the view from the five free-standing units is unforgettable. Wood-burning hot tubs add extra winter appeal.
Winter isn’t the best time to enjoy the famous campsites at Dwarsberg Trout Hideaway, but the exclusive riverside pitches may just tempt you to haul out the tent. If not, their new Pod Houses are a chic new addition to this much-loved escape in the Cape mountains.
Another classic is the ATKV Goudini Spa, with its mineral-rich pools fed by natural hot springs. While some accommodation has been modernised, the old-school vakansie-oord vibe remains strong here. And that’s precisely why generations of locals still love it. Day visitors are welcome, but book well in advance.
The rivers that come rushing off the surrounding mountains also draw travellers that can tell a Bead Head Nymph from an Elk Hair Caddis. The Holsloot, Molenaars and Smalblaar Rivers offer some of the Cape’s finest wilderness fly-fishing, with wily rainbow trout hiding in the pools and eddies. Working the waters takes skill and experience — and a permit — but if you’re a beginner wanting to try your hand, stop in at Du Kloof Lodge, where the well-stocked trout dams will soon have you hooked into dinner.
DON'T LEAVE WITHOUT A VISIT TO BOSJES
You’ll either love or hate the brazen lines of the Bosjes Chapel. Whichever it is, this creation by London-based architect Coetzee Steyn is a fine bellwether of the new energy flowing through the Breedekloof. Aside from saying “I Do”, there’s plenty to discover on the estate. The Bosjes Kombuis offers upscale country cuisine, and look out for the gorgeous Delft-inspired artwork by Lucie de Moyencourt and Michael Chandler. The Tee Tuin is the latest addition, offering light bites surrounded by vineyards and indigenous gardens. If you’d rather not leave, the five-roomed guest house boasts interiors by Liam Mooney, and glorious views of the Waaihoek Mountains from the private pool terrace.
Bergsig is one of the highlights of the Breedekloof’s wine route, but a visit to this family-owned estate — it’s been in the Lategan family since 1843 — is about more than discovering their excellent chardonnay and chenin blanc.
With more land under conservation than cultivation, the farm is a haven for nature lovers, with a self-guided walk wandering through the vineyards to a permanent bird hide near the Breede River. The estate is a particular hotspot for twitchers, who flock here to tick off some of the 200 species identified on the farm. The rare Cinnamon-breasted Bunting is the star attraction.
It’s not only wine that’ll slake your thirst in the Breedekloof. On the banks of the Breede River the distillery at Monks Gin turns out three distinct versions of “Mother’s Ruin”. Inspired by the surrounding fynbos, their Mysterium is redolent with buchu and handpicked botanicals, the blueberries for the Medella are farmed on the property, while Mary Jane taps into the fast-growing hemp trend. There’s a CBD-infused tonic on offer too.
All a little far out you? Just the other side of Rawsonville the Broers Brew Craft Brewery at Kirabo Private Cellar is the definition of down-to-earth. Winemaking may be the day job for the Le Roux Brothers here, but stop by for a taste of their sessionable Blonde Ale, or the hale-and-hearty American Pale Ale.
LISTEN TO A LOCAL
Winemaker Attie Louw is the seventh-generation to work his family farm in the Slanghoek valley. A talented winemaker, and keen golfer, he’s put Opstal on the map with his award-winning chenin blanc and sémillon.
"The Slanghoek mountain bike trails are very popular and I love riding those. But my wife and I have two children, so family time needs to cater for all four of us. Jason’s Hill Private Cellar has a hiking trail on the farm, so we’ll put our young one in the carrier to walk that. We like being in the mountains and that’s a beautiful route we love doing. For a meal there’s a place called Ou Stokery, just outside of Rawsonville, that’s really great. It’s a small restaurant next to a boutique winery, and they also make their own gin. The big lawn means there’s space for the children to run around outside, while my wife and I can have some time to ourselves."