Darling may be famous as the theatrical home of performer Pieter Dirk-Uys, but the wineries in and around this small town are quietly building a reputation for turning out both full-bodied reds and superb Sauvignon Blanc.
Groote Post Vineyards
Turning off the R27 “coastal road”, Groote Post Vineyards should be your first stop. Since 1999, when the first vintage was bottled, the Pentz family have slowly shifted from dairy farming to winemaking and conservation. Lukas Wentzel has run the cellar since 2000, and has pushed quality forward in leaps and bounds. The Sauvignon Blanc is amongst the best in the region, while the Riesling, Chardonnay and Shiraz are all excellent. They also picked up the Best Merlot Trophy at the 2016 Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show. The entire range can be sampled in the laid-back tasting room, or book a table at the charming Hilda’s Kitchen restaurant in the manor house.
Meandering north towards Darling takes you past vineyards, pastures and wheat fields, as well as the entrance to Duckitt Nurseries. One of the largest Cymbidium orchid growers in the southern hemisphere, their open house days (first Saturday of the month, 9am-12pm) allow visitors a wander through the expansive flower-growing tunnels, and to snap up cut-price orchids.
Then, head down the R315 to the door of Darling Cellars. This co-operative cellar turns out a dizzying array of wines, many of them at extremely pocket-friendly prices. Look out, though, for their Limited Release red and white blends, which are well worth the extra spend.
Cloof Wine Estate
Alongside the railway track a bumpy gravel road leads down towards Cloof Wine Estate; famous in recent years as home to Rocking the Daisies music festival. Visit on any other weekend though and you’ll find a charming laid-back tasting room with friendly staff and a range of superb good-value wines.
The Cloof Shiraz and barrel-fermented Chenin Blanc are the stars here, but The Very Sexy Shiraz and The Dark Side Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz blend are top-notch everyday quaffers worth a try. And why not quaff a bottle at the farm restaurant, which offers down-to-earth country lunches at tables spread out on the lawn.
If you can tear yourself away from the table head into the town of Darling, where the likes of Ormonde Private Cellar, Lanner Hill and Withington Wines are also worth a stop: don’t miss Withington’s Cinsaut-led Roan Ranger or Lanner Hill’s zippy Sauvignon Blanc.
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Words: Richard Holmes | Images: Supplied