32° 24' 00'' S


20° 40' 00'' E




about this subregion

The Sutherland-Karoo wine district, nestled within the Northern Cape wine region of South Africa, stands as a testament to the unique terroir-driven wines that emerge from this highest-altitude winegrowing area. Defined by its cool, dry climate and distinctive Scali soils—a mix of ancient clay and shale—this area offers a unique environment that challenges both winemakers and vines to produce wines of exceptional character.

Among the main grape varieties cultivated here, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Nebbiolo, and Tempranillo thrive, each benefiting from the region's unique environmental conditions. The cold town of Sutherland, around which this wine district is centered, provides a backdrop of semi-arid landscapes, marked by low disease risk due to dry air and poor, nutrient-lacking soils that push vines to yield concentrated and flavorful grapes.

The Sutherland-Karoo's wines are a reflection of its rugged terrain and climatic extremes, with bitterly cold winters and warm, sunny summers moderated by cool nights. This natural variance ensures a slow ripening process, allowing grapes to develop a full spectrum of flavors, making the wines from this region truly expressive of their origin​​​​​​. Join us in this journey, and discover the Southern-Karoo wine subregion of South Africa, as well as its unique co operative wineries.


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Vineyard Hectares





Discover Terroir

The Sutherland Karoo wine district, positioned to the west of the Douglas wine district, is nestled within the vast expanse of the Karoo region in South Africa. The landscape of this new world wine district is a testament to the raw beauty and resilience found in arid environments.

Stretching across the horizon, the Sutherland Karoo showcases a panorama of undulating plains and hiking trails, punctuated by sporadic rocky outcrops and mesas that rise majestically from the earth. These geological formations, weathered by time and the elements, add an element of grandeur to the otherwise flat terrain.

Throughout the subregion, the earthy tones of the landscape dominate, with hues of ochre, burnt sienna, and dusty green painting a picturesque backdrop. Hardy shrubs and low-lying vegetation cling tenaciously to the sandy soil, their presence a testament to nature's ability to adapt and thrive in challenging conditions.

Amidst the vastness of the Karoo, pockets of life emerge in unexpected places. Ancient quiver trees stand sentinel against the backdrop of the sky, their gnarled branches reaching skyward in defiance of the harsh climate. Wildlife, too, finds refuge in this unforgiving landscape, with creatures such as the elusive aardvark and nimble springbok navigating the terrain with ease.

Above, the azure canopy of the sky stretches endlessly, interrupted only by the occasional wisp of cloud or the silhouette of a soaring bird of prey. The sunlight bathes the landscape in a warm, golden glow, casting long shadows that dance across the plains as the day progresses.

Despite its remote and seemingly inhospitable nature, the Sutherland Karoo exudes a quiet, understated beauty that captivates the soul. It is a landscape shaped by the forces of time and nature, where every rock, every tree, and every blade of grass tells a story of resilience and endurance. To experience the Sutherland Karoo and its unique co operative wineries is to witness the profound beauty of the natural world in all its rugged splendor.

The Sutherland-Karoo wine district, situated in the Northern Cape of South Africa, stands as a testament to the ingenuity and perseverance of winemakers amidst challenging climatic conditions. Renowned for its unique climate, this district boasts the distinction of being the highest-altitude winegrowing area in the region, enveloping the town of Sutherland, which holds the title of the coldest town in the province.

The semi-arid climate of the Sutherland-Karoo district, characterized by ancient layers of clay and shale soils locally referred to as "scali," provides an ideal setting for winegrowing. These conditions foster an environment conducive to vine cultivation, offering poor soils that stimulate grapevine growth and minimize the risk of disease due to the dry air.

However, the wider Karoo region, encompassing the Sutherland-Karoo district, presents a landscape defined by extreme temperature variations and scant rainfall. With an average annual precipitation of merely 220mm, the region endures prolonged periods of drought. Temperatures oscillate dramatically, plummeting to sub-zero lows of -15°C during the winter months on the plateau, only to soar to sweltering highs exceeding 40°C in the summer on the plains. Winters are marked by bone-chilling cold nights and frosts, necessitating layers of warm clothing, while summers unleash scorching heat, low humidity, and sporadic, yet intense, storms.

Despite these climatic challenges, local vineyards such as those managed by Rogge Cloof have flourished, harnessing the unique terroir of the region. Free from the necessity of employing insecticides or pesticides, typical vineyard diseases remain conspicuously absent, attributed to the area's isolation and the biting cold of its winter temperatures. However, the same cold climate poses its own set of obstacles, notably the threat of black frost in spring, which imperils tender young shoots. Consequently, the growth season in Sutherland unfolds later and is significantly shorter than what is customary in other South African wine-producing regions, profoundly impacting the wine production process.

Nevertheless, wineries like Rogge Cloof have embraced these challenges, producing wines that eloquently capture the distinctive essence of the region's climate and terroir. Through their dedication and innovation, Sutherland-Karoo wines emerge as a testament to the triumph of resilience and the boundless potential for excellence amidst adversity, offering connoisseurs a tantalizing glimpse into the unparalleled flavors and quality that define this unique corner of the winemaking world.

The Scali soils of the Sutherland-Karoo wine district are a cornerstone of its viticultural identity, offering a unique narrative in the broader context of South African wine. Defined by their semi-arid characteristics, these soils comprise ancient layers of clay and shale, elements that collectively contribute to a terroir of distinctive mineral complexity and poor nutrient content. This composition underpins the cultivation of vines stressed in just the right measure to produce grapes of intense flavor and complexity.

These soils, locally known as "scali," play a pivotal role in the winegrowing conditions of the Sutherland-Karoo, allowing for low disease risk due to the region's dry air. The presence of clay retains moisture, which is crucial in this arid environment, while the shale components ensure good drainage, creating a balance that stresses the vines to concentrate their energies on fruit production rather than foliage. The result is a terroir that lends itself to the cultivation of grape varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc, Tempranillo, and Syrah, imbuing them with the distinctive characteristics that define the wines of the Sutherland-Karoo.

This soil's interaction with the unique climatic conditions of the highest-altitude winegrowing area in the Northern Cape offers a testament to the influence of terroir on wine quality. The Scali soils, with their inherent challenges and benefits, underscore the adaptability and resilience of viticulture in the Sutherland-Karoo, contributing to the creation of wines with a unique identity and a sense of place​​.


The Sutherland-Karoo wine district within the Northern Cape wine region of South Africa stands out for its unique terroir, characterized by high altitudes and a cool climate. This distinctive environment is home to a variety of grape varieties, each thriving under the specific agricultural and climatic conditions of the region.

  1. Sauvignon Blanc: Known for its adaptability to various climates, Sauvignon Blanc in the Sutherland-Karoo benefits greatly from the cool climate provided by the region's high altitude. The grape requires well-drained soil, moderate water, and cooler temperatures to delay ripening, allowing for the development of its distinctive acidity and complexity. The semi-arid conditions of Sutherland-Karoo, with its ancient layers of clay and shale, provide an idyllic setting for Sauvignon Blanc, encouraging concentrated flavors while maintaining the grape’s inherent freshness.
  2. Riesling: Riesling is a grape that excels in cooler climates, making the Sutherland-Karoo's high-altitude vineyards an excellent match. It requires a long growing season for slow ripening, which is achievable in the cool climate of this region. The grape benefits from the area's well-drained soils and is particularly sensitive to the terroir, reflecting the unique characteristics of its growing location. The cool nights and dry conditions help in maintaining the grape’s acidity and preventing disease, essential factors for cultivating high-quality Riesling grapes.
  3. Syrah: Syrah thrives in the Sutherland-Karoo due to its ability to adapt to both warm and cool climates. The key for Syrah is the significant temperature variation between day and night that the high-altitude vineyards of Sutherland-Karoo can provide. This variation helps in developing the grape’s complexity and maintaining the balance between sugar and acidity. The semi-arid climate, coupled with poor soils, stresses the vine just enough to produce grapes with concentrated flavors, making the region a prime spot for producing exceptional Syrah.
  4. Pinot Noir: Pinot Noir is notoriously difficult to grow, requiring specific conditions that are met by the Sutherland-Karoo wine district. The grape flourishes in cooler climates where it can ripen slowly, allowing for the development of its full range of flavors and aromas. The high altitude of the Sutherland-Karoo provides cool temperatures, while the dry climate reduces the risk of fungal diseases, which Pinot Noir is particularly prone to. The poor, well-drained soils of the region stress the vine enough to produce low yields of high-quality, concentrated grapes.
  5. Nebbiolo: Nebbiolo, another grape that prefers cooler climates, finds a suitable environment in the Sutherland-Karoo. Like Pinot Noir, Nebbiolo requires a meticulous balance of sunlight and temperature to mature properly. The region’s high altitude ensures cooler temperatures, while its exposure to sunlight is ample due to the clear skies. Nebbiolo benefits from the poor, well-drained soils of the Sutherland-Karoo, which challenge the vine to produce grapes of high quality and concentration.
  6. Tempranillo: This Spanish-origin grape finds an unexpected home in the Sutherland-Karoo, showcasing the region's versatility. Tempranillo requires a specific microclimate that can offer it warmth and ample sunlight during the day but cool temperatures at night to maintain acidity levels. The Sutherland-Karoo's high altitude and clear skies fulfill these conditions perfectly. The grape benefits from the well-drained soils and the dry climate that reduces the risk of diseases, making the Sutherland-Karoo an ideal location for growing robust Tempranillo grapes.

The Sutherland-Karoo wine district’s unique combination of high altitude, semi-arid climate, and poor soils make it an ideal location for cultivating these grape varieties, as well as for other less planted but equally relevant wine grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Franc. Each variety benefits from the region's specific conditions, allowing for the production of distinctive wines that reflect the terroir of the Northern Cape.

Nestled within the breathtaking landscapes of South Africa's Northern Cape, the Sutherland-Karoo wine district stands as a testament to the unique terroir and pioneering spirit of its vintners. This high-altitude, cool-climate area yields wines of exceptional quality and distinctiveness, celebrated for their aromatic complexity and flavor profiles. From the robust reds to the crisp whites, the wines of Sutherland-Karoo encapsulate the essence of their rugged environment. Here, we explore some of the most common wines produced in this remarkable subregion, focusing exclusively on their aromatic and flavor characteristics.

  1. Syrah: Known for its deep, rich color, the Syrah from Sutherland-Karoo unfurls a tapestry of aromas, including dark berries, peppery spices, and subtle hints of smoke and earth. On the palate, it presents a well-structured body, balancing robust tannins with a lingering, savory finish that reflects the terroir's unique characteristics.
  2. Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah Blend: This blend marries the best of both red wines, offering a complex nose that combines the fruit-forward qualities of Cabernet Sauvignon with the spicy, earthy notes of Syrah. Flavors of ripe blackberries, cherries, and plums are layered with vanilla, dark chocolate, and a touch of leather, culminating in a wine that is both bold and nuanced.
  3. Chenin Blanc: The Chenin Blanc white wines from Sutherland-Karoo is a showcase of the grape's versatility, presenting a refreshing bouquet of citrus fruits, green apples, and floral undertones. The flavor profile of this white wine is equally vibrant, with high acidity that brings a crisp freshness, accentuating the wine's mineral qualities and a long, fruity finish.
  4. Pinot Noir: This varietal thrives in the cool climate of Sutherland-Karoo, producing wines with a delicate, almost translucent color and an enticing aroma of red fruits like strawberries and raspberries, mingled with earthy undertones and floral hints. On tasting, it reveals a light to medium body, with flavors that echo its aromatic profile, supported by fine tannins and a smooth finish.
  5. Nebbiolo: Although less common, Nebbiolo from this region expresses a compelling array of aromas, from rose petals and cherries to tobacco and leather. Its palate is characterized by firm tannins and high acidity, unfolding layers of fruit, herb, and earthy flavors that evolve over time, promising excellent aging potential.
  6. Tempranillo: Adapted to the high altitude, the Tempranillo red wines from this district offer a rich bouquet of aromas, including ripe strawberries, plums, tobacco, and vanilla. The taste mirrors these complex aromas with a full-bodied experience, showcasing smooth tannins and a persistent, flavorful finish that highlights the varietal's adaptability to the Sutherland-Karoo's unique climatic conditions.

The red and white wines of the Sutherland-Karoo subregion are as diverse and captivating as the landscape from which they originate. Each bottle tells a story of a harsh yet beautiful terrain, of vines that have been carefully nurtured to express the essence of their environment. Whether through the robust intensity of a Syrah or the delicate finesse of a Pinot Noir, these wines invite connoisseurs and casual drinkers alike to explore the depths of their flavors and aromas, making each sip a journey to the heart of the Northern Cape.