Northern Cape Tourist AttractionsThe Orange River Wine Route
In a part of South Africa that is, for all intents and purposes, practically desert, one does not expect to find a wine route.
Where? Upington, Keimoes, Kakamas, Groblershoop and Grootdrink, Green Kalahari Region, Northern Cape
But the Orange River, the life blood of this part of the Northern Cape province, supports row upon row of land under vine – an incomprehensible stretch of intense green on either bank, in complete contrast with the surrounding dryness of the southern Kalahari, also known as the Green Kalahari.
To join the wine route head out along the N8 to Upington and join the N10 at Groblershoop, driving in a north westerly direction along the west bank of the Orange River. Later you turn on to the N14. The vineyards stretch for miles, almost 300 kilometres on both sides of the river, whilst the route takes you from Groblershoop, to Upington, Keimoes, Kakamas and Grootdrink.
It's the river that creates a cool enough microclimate for the production of quality grapes. That and the type of soil along the banks, made up of a combination of alluvial deposites, granite, dolerite and shale, which allow the wineries to plant sultana, columbard, chenin and hanepoort grapes.
Most of the wines produced by the Orange River Wine Cellars are white wines – a combination of dessert wines, semi-sweet wines and blends, but a good 3% of the vines are now red grape varieties too. And interestingly, you'll find a difference in style and flavour between east and west bank of the river.
You will easily manage the route in two days – Upington, Keimoes and Kakamas in the first, and Groblershoop and Grootdrink on the second, but there is now also a new cellar all the way up in Hartswater to make the route even more attractive.