Swartland wine region

The Swartland begins some 50 kilometres north of Cape Town and is bounded by the towns of Malmesbury in the south, Darling in the west, Piketberg in the north, and Riebeek West and Riebeek Kasteel in the east.  The Dutch pioneer Jan van Riebeek christened this gently undulating country “Het Zwarte Land” (the Black Land) after the appearance of the native Renosterbos (“Rhinoceros Bush”) when viewed from a distance after winter rains.
The area is noted for its fertile soil and relatively generous rainfall, making it the breadbasket for Cape Town.  Vines can be dry-farmed here, without the irrigation commonly practised elsewhere in South Africa, though in order to do so thay must be planted far apart.  Consequently trellising systems are rare and most vineyards are planted with small bush vines.
At the beginning of this century, enticed by those old bush vines, a few of South Africa’s most noted winemakers set up shop in a region that traditionally had only produced cheap jug wine.  The results were startling, and today Swartland is perhaps the country’s most fashionable wine region, with a particular focus on organic and “natural’ wine.  Red Rhône varieties do particularly well here, as does South Africa’s signature Chenin Blanc.

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