Orange River Wine Cellars – Wine Tasting Delights
Located in the largest province in South Africa, in an area of 361 000 square kilometers, are the Orange River Wine Cellars. Although the least populated, this area consists of spectacular winelands that cover thousands of hectares of land. This picturesque countryside, with its mesmerizing sunsets, red Kalahari sand, and its almost untouched beauty, lies in the Northern Cape. The Orange River, previously known as the Orange River of Great Gariep, is as unspoilt as it was centuries ago, with each ripple of water holding a secret from the past and a history as rich and amazing as the winelands themselves. The Orange River not only runs much needed life into the veins of the vineyards, but it has meant the survival of many animals, plants and cultures over the centuries.
A missionary, Schroder, started to build the Upington Canal in 1883 to bring water to his community and to irrigate higher grounds. A water wheel was erected, which was water driven, to run the water in the canal. Upington became the biggest town in the North Western Cape, and home to the Orange River Wine Cellars’ head quarters. The Orange River Scheme came into operation in 1966, and still irrigates and nurtures the wine region today.
The Orange River Wine Cellars Co-op Ltd was established on 23 December 1956, after it was discovered that sultanas could be utilized in the distillation of wine. Upington was mentioned as the ideal area to investigate the processing of grapes that were not able to be used for raisins, and from there was born what was to become the largest wine cooperative, not only in South Africa or the Southern Hemisphere, but the second largest in the world.
Jan Neetling was the wine maker that saw the first Upington harvest in 1968, and in the seventies the extension of the cellar gave rise to Keimoes, Groblershoop, Kakamas and Grootdrink. The Orange River Wine Cellars have gone from strength to strength, reaping the rewards of their wine production and many national and international awards. Starting with three wines, it has become a selection of thirty, ranging between Dry Whites, Semi-Sweet, Dry Red, Dessert Wines, Rose and Sparkling Wines. Due to the demand for grape juice concentrate, the Orange River Wine Cellars recognized the need to open grape juice cellars. These cellars were opened at Kanoneiland, Grootdrink, and at Kakamas in 1996.
Visitors to Upington and surrounding areas will be fascinated by its enormous size and the scenic landscapes. What better way to spend a holiday, than to indulge in some wine tasting in such a magical setting.