One of the largest wine regions in South Africa, Klein Karoo stretches from Robertson in the West, going north, and including many of the most arid areas of the country. As well as being the largest, it is also the most easterly district, and has many fantastic mountain ranges and valleys, making it the ideal location for wine growers in the area. Due to its many fertile slopes and warm air currents, Klein Karoo is very popular with wine producers, who can get a number of successful crops from the soil of the district. It has also become popular with Wine Route tourists, who are able to explore the many exciting and interesting wine cellars in the region, and look at the many wine-producing towns in the area. Visiting much of Klein Karoo is like taking a step back in time to a more refined and friendly past.
Due to its location close to the Indian Ocean, Klein Karoo has a very dry and arid landscape, although there are many microclimates in the district which allow for a number of vineyards, the majority of which are nourished by the Little Karoo river. Due to the very dry climate, most of the wines produced in the region are fortified, or are used in other ways to enhance the flavour of different wines. The world-famous Muscadel is grown and produced in this region, and there are also a number of red and white varieties of wine which come from this area. Due to the very arid climate, and the lack of resources to bring water to the desert areas, Klein Karoo has become popular as a location for organic wine-growers, and the majority of South Africa’s organic wines are produced in this region. There are also wine growers on the mountain slopes, and at the base of those valleys in rich river-bank soils, where the wine takes on a distinctive and dry flavour which is completely unique to this region.
Unlike the majority of other wine regions in South Africa, the Klein Karoo has only 2 major districts, known as Calitzdorp and Langeberg-Garcia. Calitzdorp has a long history of wine production, and is well-known for its deep, flavoursome ‘ports‘. This is due to its location on the driest areas of Klein Karoo, since the Port-grapes do tend to prefer the dry, hot climate which is produced by weather currents from the Indian Ocean. Many of the port-style wines produced in the Klein Karoo region are recognized internationally, such as Tinta Barocca and Touriga Naçional. In this district, there are a number of very extreme weather patterns, so that very hot summers with a high sea wind are interchanged with very chilly winters, often including snow on the nearby Swartberg mountains. The amount of rain in this district is very low, being only about 200mm annually. Large areas of the Calitzdorp region are deserts, although land close to the river may be at risk of flooding due to the dry nature of the soil.