Tamboerskloof wines: discovering the drum beat on Kleinood farm

A while back I took a lazy drive out to Stellenbosch to visit the wine farm Kleinood, the home of Tamboerskloof wines. The name Tamboerskloof means the valley (kloof) of the drums (tamboer), and brings with it a rich history dating back to the very earliest Dutch settlers to the Cape in 1652.


As was the custom then, with farms spread across the peninsula, lookout posts manned with spotters were established on the hills and mountains around the Cape peninsula. The first spotter was placed on the outskirts of the Cape Town CBD, where the suburb of Tamboerskloof lies today. These spotters drummed the message of an approaching ship from one lookout post to the next until the farmers in the surrounding valleys heard the drums, signalling to them to bring their crops to Cape Town harbour with their wagons in order to meet the ship on its arrival.


The significance of the name to a wine produced in Stellenbosch may seem quite far removed, but a little digging reveals a clear link. The farm’s owners, Gerard and Libby, along with their two children, Spicer and Katharien, lived in this Cape Town suburb for 25 years before moving to the farm at Kleinood, and wanted to honour the memories of all the happy years they had spent there.

An incredibly interesting and wonderfully beautiful farm, it is not one that is on any major wine tour route, and this only adds to the charm of the place with an unhurried and intimate feeling in the tasting room.


And yet, it is not for any lack of pedigree that they remain happily uncrowded, as they have won awards both for the quality of their wines as well as for the design of their packaging. Named after their son, the John Spicer Syrah won best wine packaging in the world for its first vintage in 2009. Each bottle was wrapped in a limited edition Beezy Bailey artwork depicting the farm itself, using calcium carbonate paper, which doesn’t crease, so that the artwork could be stretched out and framed.


In 2015 they won “Best Rosé in South Africa” for the Tamboerskloof Katharien Rosé. It didn’t stop there though for the Katharien as that award paled in comparison to the 16.5 out of 20 given to them by renowned British wine critic Jancis Robinson OBE, who In 1984, became the first person outside the wine trade to become a Master of Wine. She also happens to be the cellar advisor to Queen Elizabeth II.


All in all Kleinood farm is a charming, little place to visit, with wines to match. As I wandered through the vineyards and olive groves, gazing up at the mountain ranges all around me and strolling alongside the two rivers that meet on this property, it came as no surprise to me why the De Villiers family packed up everything they owned and moved away from the place they had loved for so many years to start a new life at the foot of the Helderberg.

Here’s a video telling the story of harvest time on the Kleinood farm.

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