Kleinhoekkloof: A Taste of the Cape Wilderness

The pure mountain air is bearing scents of summer wild-flowers, budding vines and oak barrels filled with ageing red wine. But nothing beats the smell of bacon. Bacon frying atop a gas-plate in the wine-tasting venue at Kleinhoekkloof tucked away between the Klein Karoo town of Ashton and the heady heights of the Langeberge mountains.

With owner Theunis de Jongh’s pedigree as a born-and-bred Pretorian and his admission of being a life-long Blue Bull rugby acolyte, I was expecting the hearty scent of boerewors instead of bacon. But besides making wine from the 11.2ha of vineyards growing in this pocket of unexpected vinous wilderness, Theunis also produces a range of charcuterie from big, happy pigs wandering distant pastures of Glen Oaks Farm at Tesselaarsdal in the southern Cape.

Like his love of charcuterie, Theunis came upon wine during the two decades he spent running various businesses requiring extensive travel and lengthy stays in Europe. “As most students do, I partook of the odd slug of jug wine while studying at the University of Pretoria,” says Theunis. “But now being a wine-farmer, I know you are going to ask me about the ‘lightbulb moment’ when wine became more than a passing interest and something that took root inside of me. Well, this came in the early 1980s when I was dining at La Gavroche in London. And someone on the table ordered a Châteauneuf du Pape wine, something I had not come across before. The presence, the array of flavours, the classic structure, the balance and the whole experience of this wine… that did it. As far as South African wines are concerned, Meerlust Rubicon also convinced me that we can truly produce world-class wines in the Cape.

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