Terroir, technology and tradition, as well as diversity and innovation, are the trademarks of one of South Africa’s most up-and-coming and exciting wine regions: the Swartland.
The region not only boasts a great diversity in soil and micro-climate, but also in winemaking philosophies.
Incidentally, the Swartland, which literally translates to “black land”, takes its name from the now endangered and indigenous renosterbos (“rhino bush”), which once turned the landscape a dark colour at certain times of the year.
Harsh summer conditions, the Atlantic Ocean’s proximity and mild winters with low rainfall all contribute to the uniqueness of the area’s wines. The area is predominantly known for its excellent shiraz, pinotage and chenin blanc, but producers, which vary in size from small garagiste and boutique winemakers to large estates and even larger wine companies, are continuously experimenting with new varieties like viognier, malbec, grenache, carignan and mourvèdre. The soils and climate also lend themselves to the production of top-quality Rhône varietals, as the area’s terroir is similar to that of the south of France.
The area’s vines are hardy and although trellising is increasingly being adopted, older bush vines, which are less stressed and result in well-balanced wines with excellent structure and full of flavour, are still dominating the scene. Little or no irrigation ensure low yields and therefore an excellent concentration of fruit flavours in the berries.
Despite the important role that technology and innovation play in winemaking in the Swartland, a new generation of winemakers with a “retro approach” has returned to the area’s rich history and tradition and started making wines in smaller volumes, using more traditional methods such as natural fermentation. This is contributing further to the Swartland’s wine diversity.Contact Us
The Swartland offers a huge variety of outdoor activities. Walks and hikes are popular, as are 4x4 trails, and for the more adventurous there’s hang-gliding, paragliding, canoeing, clay-pigeon shooting and horse riding, to name but a few.
The Santam Swartland Wine- & Olive Route boasts numerous members including private cellars, garagistes and wine merchants. Smaller wineries, such as The Sadie Family Wines, offer intimate tastings in rustic cellars, whilst family farms, such as Allesverloren, dating back generations, welcome visitors with Swartland warmth and cheer. Note that a number of the smaller wineries are open by appointment only. Be sure to make your appointment at least 48 hours in advance. Take a look at the website of the Santam Swartland Wine- & Olive Route for details.
There are numerous restaurants, delis and coffee shops in the quaint towns of the Swartland.
Pleasant Pheasant Restaurant on the farm Allesverloren is ideal for families. Outside seating on the wooden deck in the shade of old oak trees is perfect for warm summer days, whilst in winter the cosy indoor fireplace creates an intimate atmosphere.
De Perdestal at Fynbos Estate is open by appointment only and is the ideal venue for a cosy birthday bash or a year-end-function. Join De Perdestal lunch club and get invited to their seasonal Sunday lunches. Seasonal produced are used in their menus.
Swartland Winery offers light meals and cheese platters at their tasting room. The winery is an ideal stop en-route through the region.
Fresh local produce and crafts can be bought at the local markets. The Village Market in Riebeek West takes place on the first Saturday of every month and is a very popular local hang-out. At the Piket-bo-Berg Farmers Market, on the farm Kruistement, fresh produce can be bought on the last Saturday of every month. The Langs-die-bos Market in Malmesbury is also gaining popularity.
From tiny B & B’s to well-appointed guesthouses, charming self-catering cottages and hotels, there’s an accommodation option in the Swartland to suit every taste and pocket. Fynbos Estate in the Paardeberg offers self-catering and bed & breakfast accommodation, whilst the guest house at Franki’s Vineyards, on the farm Eenboom outside Malmesbury, is ideal for larger groups. The luxurious Kloovenburg Pastorie guest house in Riebeek-Kasteel is situated close to the village centre and overlooks the town. Other self-catering options include the Nooitgedacht Cottage on the farm Nooitgedacht in the Aprilskloof. For more information visit the various tourism websites.
Of late the Swartland has become sought after weekend wedding destination. Venue options include Org de Rac and Nieuwedrift, both situated near Piketberg, Allesverloren and Het Vlock Casteel in the Riebeek Valley, as well as Fynbos Estate and Kalmoesfontein (AA Badenhorst Family Wines.) in the Paardeberg. Franki’s Vineyars cater for small intimate weddings.
Malmesbury is the Swartland’s largest town, established over 265 years, and is the main business centre of the area. The historic town is surrounded by wine, wheat, dairy and sheep farms. The town’s Heritage Route includes the Malmesbury Museum and several historical buildings. Swartland Winery, the local golf course and mountain bike trails are popular attractions. Hofstraat Winery, a garagista winery, in the town, is open by appointment only. A number of small boutique style wineries that are open by appointment only are situated in the nearby Paardeberg.
The twin villages Riebeek West and Riebeek Kasteel are home to several wineries and olive producers, including the historic Allesverloren and Kloovenburg. Other producers include Pulpit Rock, Het Vlock Casteel, Riebeek Cellars and Mullineux Leeu Family Wines. A number of artists have settled in the Valley and various curio shops and an art gallery are open to the public.
Piketberg is situated on the slopes of the Piketberg Mountain. The town has a historical Route, which includes the Dutch Reformed Church that is made of sandstone. Several protea and fruit farms are situated on top of the mountain. The nearby Org de Rac, an organic wine farm, and the Winkelshoek complex are popular attractions. Mountain biking and hiking on the mountain are becoming increasingly popular.
Wildehurst Winery and Nieuwedrift Vineyards are both small boutique wine producers that are open by appointment only, are situated near the town Koringberg. Koringberg is a small village surrounded by wheat farms.
Top Things To See And Do
Olive oil tastings at Het Vlock Casteel, Kloovenburg and the Olive Boutique
Skydiving outside Malmesbury
Bird watching (various routes)
Local artists and art galleries
Watersports (skiing at Misverstand Dam, angling at various dams)
Historical routes (in the towns of Malmesbury and Piketberg, and in the Riebeek Valley)
Various country markets (in the towns of Malmesbury and Piketberg, and in the Riebeek Valley)
- Various interesting restaurants
Annual wine and food festivals include the annual Riebeek Cellars Grape Stomp in February and the Riebeek Valley Olive Festival in May.
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