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Details for Swartland, Bush Vine, Shiraz

CountrySouth Africa
AppellationSwartland WO
Syrah / Shiraz
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Swartland Winery
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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.

Swartland Winery

Founded as a growers’ cooperative in 1948 by 15 farmers, Swartland Winery is one of  the oldest producers in the newly-fashionable Swartland region.  It’s also by far the largest, with 64 growers farming 3,600 hectares of vines.  80% of those are small bush vines, with average yields at a low 6 tonnes per hectare.
For decades it produced cheap and cheerful quaffing wines, but the establishment of ambitious boutique wineries in the region in the early noughties prompted a change of direction.  In 2006 it became a public company, hired some big name talent both in winemaking and marketing, and embarked upon an export drive.
New ranges of top-tier wines were introduced.  The Limited Release range comprises small batches from single vineyards, often just a barrel or two.  Above that, the Bush Vine range has rather larger volumes of flagship wines, aimed mainly at export markets.  At fewer than two thousand cases each, these are still small-volume for a winery that produces two million cases each year.

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