Oudtshoorn – wine tasting in the Klein Karoo

Who knew?  Most people associate Oudtshoorn with ostriches, Cango caves and very high temperatures, but there are actually a few wineries in between the ostrich and game farms surrounding the town.
Karusa Vineyards
We actually headed up to Oudtshoorn for the Cango Caves Marathon, the boys are running the Comrades later this year and wanted to use this Category 1 (easiest) marathon as their qualifier.  So, of course we made a weekend of it.  The marathon was certainly not “easy”, but the boys got some good times… I suffered in the heat and have now officially divorced the full marathons, I told them I’ll be doing the Half options from now on!!  A big shout out must definitely go to the SANDF (South African National Defense Force) Infantry school, the races finished at their army base and all the water points were manned by their trainees – who clearly slept the night out there next to the road to be ready for us.  They were so enthusiastic and encouraging, lining the road on both sides and even walking up the road to get the ice-cold water and coke to us runners quicker!  Great job!

That aside, after running 42.2 km, you definitely deserve a beer or a wine tasting, no?! and most certainly some ostrich!

Karusa Vineyards and Wines is just outside Oudtshoorn on the road to the Cango Caves, it is quaint and somewhat of an oasis of greenery amongst the fynbos of the Klein Karoo.  It has a lovely country-style, relaxed and homely feel to it, with the owners ever-present, chatty and friendly.  Being in Ostrich country we ate the likes of ostrich steak sandwiches and cheese boards fill of ostrich carpaccio and ostrich biltong – delicious!!  The locals at the table next door told us Karusa is their little ‘Franschhoek Valley’.

The boys enjoyed the Karusa craft beers with lunch while us girls did a wine tasting.  The Reserve Collection wines are definitely top of the list, the 5th Element Syrah/Viognier is just as you would expect, definite pepper spice flavours but very smooth.  The Earth’s Art Chardonnay/Viognier is also very smooth with your lovely gooseberry and vanilla flavours.  They then have the Single Vineyard Collection, the Lifestyle Collection and the Karoo Classique Collection.  Of course we did not taste all of them, but the few that stood out were the Ancients Pinot Noir which was heavier than expected, more on the earthy side than the light fruit flavours, darker in colour too – very enjoyable.  The Grenache Noir /Mourvedre was something we haven’t heard of before, with a very interesting taste.  Quite light in flavour, not a lot of fruit and somewhat bland actually, but interesting and different.  The Muscat Blanc is a semi-sweet wine with the affectionate name of “Litchi Bomb” on the bottle, and it tastes just like that, deliciously sweet and fresh litchis.  Certainly a semi-sweet wine with the sweetness, but still quite lovely, I think it would make a perfect spritzer!  I’m not a huge Port fan, but given the warmth of a fire in the middle of winter I can understand how it would go down well.  The Soleil de Karusa Vintage Port was nice, strong, but nice.  I actually preferred the Soleil de Karusa Red Muscadel, again very sweet like grape caramel, but a lovely flavour.  I would make a delicious summer cocktail with this one.

Karusa was a great find and a lovely little spot to relax for the afternoon.Oudtshoorn White Lion

Although the marathon started at the entrance to the Cango Caves, we actually didn’t go inside this time.  The picture below is from our visit a couple of months ago.  If you are in the area, you should definitely go on the tour – it is quite spectacular!
We visited the Cango Wildlife Ranch this time around and it was amazing.  The guides were fantastic and the whole park is fairly interactive.  We watched crocodiles being fed, jumping two metres high for their meat.  We sat in the bird enclosure with the parakeets hopping right up to us, through the bat enclosure we stared eye to eye with the biggest bats I have EVER seen, seriously huge.  And my favourite of all were the cats.  Cheetahs, leopards, white lions, white tigers and their white tiger cubs.  Well worth a visit!

Have you been to Oudtshoorn lately?  Where are some of your favourite spots?

Cango Caves  Inside the Cango Caves…


 Schoemanshoek, Cango Valley – Just outside Oudtshoorn on the way to Cango Caves
Tel: +27 44 272 8717

 S33° 28’36.0″ E22° 14’33.2

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