Cape Town is blessed with all sorts of wine tasting experiences – with everything from chocolate or biltong tastings to vineyard safaris and everything else in between… These delicious experiences, exceptional wine farms and top-class wines are enough to convert even the most stubborn ‘I’m not really a wine person’ into a true wine appreciator.
But sometimes, the city’s best kept secrets aren’t found in the usual, go-to wine centres, like Stellenbosch or Franschhoek… And Klein Roosboom – an exceptional boutique wine farm in the Durbanville Wine Valley – is such a sensational (wine) secret.
For the past year at least, I have known and heard much about Klein Roosboom, both through word of mouth and social media alike – but it was only recently that I decided to make a booking and travel to this boutique wine farm…
Breathtaking without trying: Klein Roosboom Boutique Winery
To say I was quietly and instantly blown away by this estate (and its offerings) would be something of an understatement.
You see, while most wine farms rely on their numerous wine awards, longstanding Cape history or quality wines, Klein Roosboom focuses on something else entirely: the intimacy of a wine tasting experience.
I have visited many wine farms in the past two years – and while there are some that will always stay with me as a special memory because of who I visited them with me, or continue to draw me back because of their other estate activities – very few of them would have me returning just for the wine tasting experiences alone. (Scandalous, I know!)
The reason for this is simple: even today, very few wine farms offer uniquely memorable wine tastings. Sure, they may be lovely, the wines can be sublime and you can have the best wine host possible. Yet what makes a tasting truly special is when the estate atmosphere and overall ambiance do the talking with the wine – rather than playing second fiddle to it.
Because, let’s face it, very few of the Cape’s best wine estates produce anything less than excellent wines… So, if you can buy a bottle from your local store and enjoy it in the comfort of your own home, or order it in your favourite restaurant and share it with friends – what’s going to be the one thing that pulls you into the car on a weekend, forcing you to face the plentiful wine-farm-hopping crowds, just to spend an hour or two in a busy tasting centre?
It’s not going to be the friendly service (especially as I’ve never personally encountered bad service at any top wine estate…), chic interiors, designer wine-making equipment or even the mouth-watering (but slightly overpriced) cheese or charcuterie platters…
Oh, no, it’s going to be the feeling and connection you leave with, after a particularly memorable wine tasting. Whether it is a glass of bubbly shared with your mum on Mother’s Day, or the fun, kid-friendly wine estate you enjoyed with your whole family… These are the things that make most people venture to the same wine farms, time and time again, rather than branching out and trying them all.
The only exception
Okay, to be fair, I might be an exception to this rule – I can walk around a wine farm for two or three hours without even sampling a drop of wine because I find Western Cape wine farms magical by default.
Not just because of their stunning settings, beautiful vineyards, dedicated staff or unique Cape history – but because, to me, they are a constant reminder of the best parts of my childhood, as much as they are a momentary reprieve from that ever-itching travel bug gnawing away within me.
So I may a little biased about wine farms, I admit – but here’s the thing about Klein Roosboom, it doesn’t even need pomp and ceremony, yesteryear Cape Dutch buildings or vast acres to impress.
Instead, Klein Roosboom relies on a rustic, working farm vibe married together perfectly with their quality wines, beautifully decked out, cosy wine tasting sections (they possess both indoor seating around an impressive, long table, fit for royalty, and sheltered outdoor seating) – and, perhaps above all, their dedication to doing the small things right, faithfully and consistently…
Their website says wine is their passion, that it is their culture – and those sentiments certainly ring true. You feel it the moment you enter the tasting room, only to be greeted by a team of young and friendly wine hosts, who go out of their way to check up on you and make sure you feel welcome. (And not just your attendant wine host either – I mean all of them!)
Keeping it in Karin’s family
Another nice element of the 300-year-old Klein Roosboom is that passionate and charismatic winemaker-owner, Karin de Villiers, has kept it in her family.
Her husband, Jean, two sons – Nicol and Johan and daughter, Marne, offer their full support – and occasionally, their own time – to Karin’s labour of love. In fact, Nicol apparently helps in the vineyards, while Johan sometimes hosts braai functions at the estate.
Coming from a similar place of love, Karin has named her wines after her loved ones – including the Janet Shiraz (named for her mother-in-law) or Marianna Rose, touchingly dedicated and named after her own mother. The words Karin has denoted to each namesake wine are particularly touching – and worth a read if you get the chance.
More than wine – it’s a secret (wine) cave experience!
But I have kept the best part of Klein Roosboom back till last… it is their ‘caves’. No, these are not the normal, rugged caves you might expect to find in the outdoors – instead, they are cosy, intimate and opulently adorned nooks within the tasting room.
Formerly used to store the wine in days past, the caves have been carefully utilised to offer a fun, romantic and altogether unique wine tasting experience. What’s more, these caves – each tastefully and beautifully decorated with plush scatter cushions, ornate mirrors, old-fashioned but fun decor and even a surprise ‘envelope’ (be sure to open it to see what it contains!) – are where the real wine tasting experience is at.
They are snug, playfully decorated and, perhaps above all else, entirely fascinating. This is a glimpse into the former wine making days, as much as it is a posh nod to the future – and this merging of the two wine worlds is a beautiful thing to experience and behold. (I also like that the caves have been allotted names – like Die Ou Gat, which essentially means ‘the old hole’ in Afrikaans.)
I loved every moment seated inside the comfort of my cave, tucked away from those outside (although naturally, people walk by and can’t resist a peep inside). It was a completely romantic, fun and delightful wine tasting experience… and that was before I had even ordered my wines!
The only catch: I strongly recommend advance bookings (which you can do over the phone or via email, like I did) because not only is Klein Roosboom itself very busy on weekends – but these caves are sure to all be snapped up if you don’t book ahead!
Visit alone or in a group
I am usually hesitant to visit wine farms on my own (particularly on a Sunday) because they do feel like something best shared with others (it makes it all the more fun!) – but Klein Roosboom is a wonderful place to visit whether you are on your own, with your partner or a group of friends. (Although weekends and public holidays mean that the tastings can’t accommodate groups of more than 8 people)
It is definitely one of the most romantic wine tastings I have done – so keep it in mind for an anniversary, (winter) wine date or special occasion – but I didn’t feel weird being on my own either, especially as my wine host, Izaan Jacobs, provided great company and insights.
Sampling six stellar wines
On my visit, I opted for the standard six-wine tasting. This consists of two whites, three reds and a rose, and costs you roughly R40.
I began with the two whites and the rose: Jean Sauvignon Blanc 2017, Dear Diary Chardonnay 2017 and Marianna Rose 2017 (which was gorgeously coloured).
All three of these were exceptionally beautiful, fresh and easy drinking wines. As a white and Rose fan, I was instantly transported to my happy wine tasting place. I honestly can’t fault any of them – so it’s a firm 10/10 for all three.
After I had spent some time enjoying the sumptuous interiors and overall atmosphere – sometimes punctuated by contented outside chatter and softly playing music (gently reminding you that you’re still in the present) – it was time for the three sinfully delicious reds…
I am, by full admission, very rarely a red wine lover… I can enjoy and appreciate it certainly, but, by and large, I far prefer whites. So you know that red wine has to be extremely good to ever win me over and have me praising it to the max. Fortunately, this was the case at Klein Roosboom.
I got to happily sample the Nicol Merlot 2016, Johan Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 and Janet Shiraz 2016. They were all seriously delicious, perfectly balanced red wines, but, for me, the winning red was definitely the Nicol Merlot.
Klein Roosboom is currently eager awaiting the opening of its new restaurant (sometime in 2019) – but, in the meanwhile, they offer some good foods to accompany the wines. On the day I visited, this was a choice between the Soup of the Day (perfect with wine – and in winter especially) or the cheese and charcuterie platter (R189 for two sharing).
A Durbanville gem
Based on the service, quality of wines and, most of all, the wine tasting experience, I am delighted to award Klein Roosboom an overall 10/10 rating. There really wasn’t anything to criticise them on in the run-up to my visit (they replied promptly to my email and provided me with all the necessary information) – and during the entirety of my visit, I was made to feel welcome, at ease and entirely unhurried (even though I had booked a cave out all to myself).
Thank you very much to Klein Roosboom and their staff – in particular Pierre-Benn and Izaan, who I dealt with personally – for a memorable, experiential wine tasting unlike all others in and around the Mother City… I hope to be back sometime soon! 🙂
The Klein Roosboom Tasting Room is open from Tuesdays to Sundays, 10:00 am – 16:30 pm. Please note: Advance bookings are advised, particularly for weekends and public holidays.
For more information on Klein Roosboom and all their wines, please contact +27 (060) 877 2678 or email them at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also visit Klein Roosboom’s website or find Klein Roosboom Boutique Winery for yourself along the M13 (Tygerberg Valley Road), Durbanville Wine Valley, Western Cape, South Africa.
Author: Tamlyn Amber Ryan
Content writer by day and blogger by night, Tamlyn Ryan passionately runs her own travel blog, called Tamlyn Amber Wanderlust, from her home base of Cape Town, South Africa. And, despite a national diploma in Journalism, in her free time, Tamlyn’s preferred niche remains travel writing.
Tamlyn is a hopeless wanderer, equipped with an endless passion for road trips, carefully planned, holiday itineraries and, above all else, an innate love for the great outdoors.