De Krans Wine Cellar – A Little Taste of Portugal in the Heart of the Karoo!
Despite everything going on in South Africa, I do love my home country. It’s truly a diverse country, not only the people and culture, but also the landscapes, fauna and flora. This too includes our wines. Our wine regions are so unique and diverse in terroir; which can vary anything from cool maritime to extreme harsh weather conditions. Here in South Africa, De Krans Wine Cellar, is situated in the heart of the Klein Karoo. A wine district well-known as a region of extremes! So you can only imagine my huge excitement when De Krans invited me to come and experience their unique terroir and award winning wines. But before I indulge you on my tiny taste of “Portugal” in the heart of the Karoo, let me give you a little background about the wine region of the desert lands.
The Desert Winelands – The Klein Karoo Wine Region
The Klein Karoo being a semi-arid wine-producing region has to be the most diverse wine region out of all the Winelands of South Africa. The wines of the Klein Karoo region is so diverse and varied it is a must experience for all wine lovers.
The Karoo Wine Region runs along the R62! Route 62 is the longest wine route IN THE WORLD. I mean how totally cool is this?
The route actually starts in Wellington moving into Tulbagh, Worcester, Robertson and then through Montagu passing through Barrydale, Ladismith, Calitzdorp, Oudtshoorn and the Langkloof region.
The Klein Karoo is famous for its extremes; in soil and climate. Some of the highest mountain peaks of the Western Cape are located in the Klein Karoo. These mountains form part of the Cape Fold Mountains.
The Klein Karoo is situated between spectacular mountain ranges. Most of the vines you will find on the high slopes (sometimes vines are found up to 700m above sea levels) of fertile alluvial soil along riverbanks, kloofs and ravines in this most breathtakingly beautiful rugged landscape.
A region of extremely hot and dry climate produces some of the very best-fortified wines (or “port-style” wines giving Portugal a good run for its ports) and pot stilled brandies in South Africa.
Little do people know that the varying terroir of the region you can discover some phenomenal wines and cultivars just waiting for you to sip and enjoy. Let’s just say that the Karoo Wine Region is just not a sweet face. 🙂
Once in a while you will get a lovely fresh sea breeze reaching the desert winelands providing some relief from the scorching sun. This lovely cool breeze helps to cool down the hot earth at night. This variation in temperature balances and ripens the flavours of the grapes giving them a good level of rich fruitiness and a perfect level of acidity.
De Krans Wines a Taste of Portugal in the heart of the Karoo
Hopefully now you have a better understanding about the uniqueness the desert winelands has to offer and why I am so excited in chatting to you about De Krans Wines.
De Krans – A Wine Farm Full of Wine Heritage
Situating in Calitzdorp, along the upper reaches of the scenic Gamka River Valley (Gamka: lion in San) You will discover De Krans Wine Cellar. Did you know that Calitzdorp is called the “Port” Capital of South Africa? Well now you do!
The history of the De Krans farm dates as far back when it was bought by the Nel family in as 1890. Since then it has planted most of the classic Portuguese port and wine varieties allowing itself to be the leading forefront of wine and port innovation in South Africa.
This is just not my opinion but backed up with over 700 awards, winning the Most Innovative Wine Award at the Michelangelo International Wine Awards in 2012 for the De Krans Espresso.
De Krans is also the very first wine cellar in South Africa to produce a Touriga Nacional as a dry red. The first to produce a beautiful Pink “Port” which you can sip all year round. You can enjoy it on its own at room temp or over crushed ice on a hot summers day.
And now recently launched, De Kran P&T a Port-Styled and Tonic Cocktail in a 275ml bottle.
We will chat more wine a little later, but first let’s have some fun picking hanepoort.
De Krans – A Summer Destination for Hanepoort Picking
Guys if you are looking for an unique experience – make sure you get yourselves down to De Krans during February. What more of a better way can you (and your kiddies… if you have) celebrate summer in the Karoo Countryside than harvesting your very own hanepoort grapes.
Fresh country air and warm from the sun, the grapes just seem to be more delicious, juicier and sweeter. Even though it was a sweltering hot summer morning there was something rather therapeutic and relaxing, harvesting your very own grapes. It was a super fun morning, but no… not something I would love to do as a living. I totally take my hat off to the farm workers who work extremely hard in the vineyards during the HOT harvest season. So thank you to ALL for your hard work no matter the weather.
Frolicking in the Wine Cellar
I had the wonderful opportunity to spend the morning with Winemaker – Christoff de Wet whose passion for the winemaking is so infectious you can’t help but get super excited!
The De Krans Cellar was a hive of activity as harvest was pretty much in full swing. It was interesting to hear that their harvested for 2022 has also been a great challenge. Last year thanks to a wonderful (said in sarcasm) a hail storm destroyed a lot of this year’s harvest. They too also had a hectic heatwave which causes a lot of stress for the vines. The area of Calitzdorp or should I say the Klein Karoo had recently also came out of a 7 year drought. Sadly they had lost a lot of vines and a few cultivars.
De Krans felt happy and blessed with the good rainfalls they had which filled the dams up nicely. With good vineyard practice they prepared well for the crazy weather we had in January and February.
Sadly for us 😔, we didn’t get see the famous old basket press being sprung into action. This old basket press comes from the Aix-en-Provence region in France. Doing things old school in the cellar just makes a huge difference, one that you can clearly taste. The basket press enables a far more softer pressing action which results in a softer and smoother tannin structure. (Stay tuned for De Krans Wine Reviews in the very near future)
We got to sample wine from the tanks as well as “stealing from the barrels”. I have to say without giving too much away (you know the saying: “what happens in the cellar… stays in the cellar!” 😜) and YES there are some stunning wines coming to your glass in the very near future! So stay tuned.
Experiencing De Krans Tasting Room
A blazing hot Karoo summers day, the De Krans tasting room (fully aircon) was a lovely cool welcome. The quaint tasting room and bistro is surrounded by luscious vineyards, all hanging with hanepoort grapes ripe for the picking. The outdoor seating area all under vine provides you a lovely canopy of shade, protecting you from the blistering Karoo sun, if you still don’t mind the heatwaves.
I can only imagine how pretty it must be now that it is autumn – the vines changing to golden yellow and orange.
De Krans has an extensive collection of wines and ports in their PORTfolio – Get it?? Sorry had to through in a dad joke.
From super easy breakfast wines like the Perle Muscato, which we enjoyed with our farm breakfast. The Pinotage Rose which is like summer in a bottle. How can you not fall in love with that beautiful blush pink colour and the smell of roses, candy floss and strawberries and juicy red fruits bursting on the palate.
You will find more complex wines like the basket pressed Cabernet Sauvignon which has a complexity but yet also “easy” drinking, meaning this wine can be sip and savoured on its own or enjoyed with a impromptu weekend braai with friends. The Cabernet Sauvignon juices is pressed with an old basket press, resulting in a much gentler pressing action. This results a tannin structure that soft, silky and velvety with plums, mulberries and dark cherries on the palate along with cedar, cassia, fresh prunes and berries on the nose. Man – I just can’t wait to open this one up!
Oh! Oh! and how can I forget the Port Styled fortified wines. Perfect for the icy cold winter nights that are coming. I really did enjoy experiencing the Portugal cultivars, some I have never heard of like Tinta Roriz and Tinta Amarela and some I finally got to taste like the Verdelho!
A full wine review on each of my favourite wines coming up soon, so stay tuned.
Otherwise we will be here forever!
The BEST fish and chips EVER!!
All this hardwork of harvesting my own hanepoort, working in the cellar 🤪 and tasting all this wine it was time to get some proper lining in the stomach. So listen… I was told that De Krans makes the best fish and chips! People travel from Mosselbay and George to De Krans for the fish and chips. It is that good! Which is ironic because De Krans / Calitzdorp is miles away from the sea, and people staying by the sea traveling all this way for fish and chips. Honestly, I was skeptical!
I am NOT a hake eater, I prefer snoek and love the taste of the sea in my seafood. Hake is normally bland and tasteless. Well peeps! I was wrong. It was DEEEEEEEEElicious!! The batter was not thick. It was crispy and thin with loads and loads of flavour. I am a chip eater so obviously that was also good. Crispy on the outside nice and fluffy inside. Good size portions leaving you feeling well sustained.
No need for a McD’s or KFC…. haahaa.. you would be screwed anyway as Calitzdorp doesn’t have any takeaways!!! Whaaahaaa!!
There is also a few other items on a limited menu including a pull pork sandwich on a roosterkoek and cheese platter for two… All ingredients are fresh and locally sourced and most importantly seasonal.
We also did have breakfast at De Krans the next morning and WOW is all I can say. It was such a hard decision because it was a choice of:
- Shakshuka: 2 Eggs Poached in a Middle Eastern Spiced Tomato and Pepper Sauce with Chorizo served with Roosterkoek
- French Toast: Egg Coated white Bread with 3 rashers of Bacon, Grilled Banana, Camembert with Maple Syrup
In the end the French Toast Won!
In Conclusion – 5 Reasons to visit De Krans Wine Cellar
- The unique terroir produces some phenomenal wines that are powerful, rich in fruitiness, balanced in acidity, full bodied and yet refined and appealing.
- De Krans is innovative with their winemaking practices and can definitely give Portugal a good run for their wines, especially with their Portugal cultivars and port styled wines. Don’t believe me… Well you must taste for yourself!
- The use of “Old school” winemaking practices in both vineyard and cellar! For example harvesting the grapes by hand and basket pressing, resulting in wines that are softer and more fruit-driven in character.
- The best fish and chips EVER!
- Rated #5 in the Top rated Tourist Attractions in Oudtshoorn! Where De Krans is the first Wine Farm on the list. (the other contenders on the list is:
#1 Gamkaberg Nature Reserve; #2 Perdepoort Horse trails; #3 Meiringspoort Waterfall; #4 St Blaize Hiking Trail.) I mean it beats the Cango Caves and the Knysna Elephant Park. So this tells you something, not just me saying so….
My current mood after this visit is pure excitement and super impressed with the wines De Krans currently has on offer. Showing you that one can be innovative and experimental with out compromising on your heritage and beliefs.
So the next time you are passing through Calitzdorp on your vacation to the Garden Route, make sure you take a sho’t left (okay maybe right) and pop De Krans a visit. You will not regret it!
Disclaimer: First and foremost I just want to personally thank De Krans for allowing me the opportunity to experience the De Krans Way, it was an insightful weekend and got experience the heart of the Karoo. Now for the nitty gritty! Although I was invited by De Krans in for exchange for my honest and truthful opinion, all my ramblings expressed in this article are solely the ramblings of My Boozy Kitchen. Under no circumstance – De Krans or its affiliates has any influences on my thoughts. All info provided is given in good faith. Images in this article are owned by My Boozy Kitchen. Fuel is expensive so don’t drink and drive!