South Africa is well renowned for its wines with the Cape Winelands known to be one of the world’s premium wine destinations. However, in recent years, the craft gin and beer making industries have also exploded, not only in the Cape, but throughout the country, including right here in Knysna. In fact, the entire Garden Route area is home to a number of family owned, craft distilleries, breweries, and vineyards where you can get delicious locally made products that really offer something extraordinary for the discerning connoisseur.
Here are three of the best places to toast a tipple in the Knysna area.
Gin tasting at Knysna Distillery
Head down to Knysna Distillery any day, except Sunday, for a gin tasting, a distillery tour, or a tasting of the Knysna Brewey’s small-batch beer. The distillery’s signature Knysna Gin is distilled in a copper pot still, the traditional way of making gin. It features nine different botanicals, including the Knysna Lourie’s favourite food, the Num Num berry, almonds from Sedgefield, honeybush from the Crags, and Mondei Whitei from Limpopo. This African twist led the gin to receive a silver medal at the 2020 International Wine & Spirit Competition. Alongside their famed Knysna Gin, the distillery also makes honey, blueberry, wild plum, pink plum, and mulberry gin in small, limited batch releases. For a special evening out, visit the distillery on a Friday for some delicious gin cocktails and some of the best wood-fired, hand-made sourdough pizzas in town courtesy of the Maillard Baking Co.
Wine tasting at Packwood Wine Estate
If you love to sip and savour some unique wines, then a visit to Packwood is a must-do. Visit this small wine estate in Harkerville, just outside Knysna, for a tasting of their wines paired with a homemade farmhouse cheese lunch with products made from the farm’s very own pasture-fed jersey cows. Off the beaten track, this family-owned winery is set on a beautiful large country estate surrounded by pristine indigenous forests. With vines planted 330 metres above sea level, the farm is known for its lovely Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir cultivars and bubbly. What also sets these wines apart is the sustainable practises used on the farm, such as rain harvesting, natural fertilisers, biodynamic management, and a wealth of farming knowledge going back five generations.
Beer tasting at the Red Bridge Brewing Company
Visit the Red Bridge Brewing Co taproom for tastings of this locally brewed small-batch beer. Named after the red bridge which spans the Knysna River, this micro-brewery is a family-owned business that prides itself on hand-crafted beer. The beers are made using only South African-built equipment such as the brew kit, malt mill, and fermentation tank, and all recipe development, brewing, and packaging are done in house. The range includes a craft lager, golden ale, India pale ale, and even a non-alcoholic golden ale. Even I, a traditional wine drinker, think they are delicious!