A to Z of the Swartland: Part 1

Written by Clifford Roberts; Photographer Johan Viljoen

Every region has characteristics that give it identity. First to mind for the Swartland may be the wheatfields and vineyards, olive groves and hamlets. But there is so much more, which is why we’ve drawn up an A to Z of the Swartland. It’s not an exhaustive list, but if you’re planning a staycation in these parts, it will help you on your way.

The blog post appears in two parts. The second will follow soon.

A is for Art

Villages and towns of the Swartland are home to many artists and art initiatives. Doing much to popularise this fact is Solo Studios, an annual festival that provides public access to artist workspaces. It also features exhibitions, poetry readings, guided walks and live music performances.  Read more about this and for example, the Royal Arts Town Amphitheatre (RATA) at https://bit.ly/30p45GM.

B is for Bicycle

The Swartland’s villages, towns and countryside are ideal for two-wheeled exploration. A number of popular races are hosted in the region, among them “The U” on the Piket-Bo-Berg trails.  For information and links on cycling around Malmesbury, go here: https://bit.ly/3kFMVfk

C is for Chenin Blanc

The Swartland has a few rockstar varieties, among them Chenin Blanc, which has been a feature of the region since its earliest days. Read more about the Swartland its old vines here:   https://bit.ly/3FlR0xn.

D is for Donkey

A few of the local farms have taken in rescue animals. Some are accessible to visitors, making the wineries great family outings. Lammershoek has horses and donkeys while Fynbos Estate too has for some time taken in rescue donkeys.

E is for Eatery

The food scene of the Swartland is diverse, but you’ll also find restaurants that offer a good selection of local wines. Among them are places like Desert Rose Farm Stall, at the N7 turnoff to Koringberg. Read about others on the blogpost at: https://bit.ly/3kFFuox

F is for Family

A defining characteristic of the South African farms is the family that runs them. There are many examples with ancestry going back centuries and this is also true of the Swartland. Read the blog here: https://bit.ly/3ChbEfW

G is for Geology

The ancient soils of the Swartland are a significant component of what makes Swartland wine what it is. Read more about these, here https://bit.ly/3cfrdu0

H is for History

The year 2021 has been a milestone year for the Swartland. In March 1986 – 35 years ago – the region’s wine route, now officially named the Swartland Wine & Olive Route, came into being. The first time that the name Swartland was recorded however, was in a diary dated August 1701. It was around this time that farms were first granted in the region. Most were engaged in livestock and grain production, but as demand for wine increased, so did vineyards. Read the blog here: https://bit.ly/3Hlevs1

I is for Independent

A new era for the region’s wineries was set in motion in 2011 with the formal establishment of the Swartland Independent Producers. The group of wine growers saw the need for greater technical focus on the distinction of wines emerging from the Swartland.   It was to be a significant step that helped propel the region’s produce on the national and international stage. Read more about this movement at https://bit.ly/3wP3PgH

J is for Jackal Buzzard

This bird species has an extremely large range and occurs in diverse habitats, including the grasslands and rocky areas of the Swartland. The bird is a common sight on fence posts and telephone poles. It is just one of the species that brings birders to the region. For more about birding in the region, go here: https://bit.ly/3kFMVfk.

K is for Kilometre

The Swartland is the ideal roadtrip destination, whether you’re doing a day out in the country or spending some time to explore. There are many kilometres of backroads and gravel tracks that connect quaint villages and diverse landscapes, from the sea at Yzerfontein to the elevations of the Riebeek Mountain and Paardeberg. Start by taking a look at this map of the Swartland and its highlights, here: https://bit.ly/3qCDqS7.

L is for Leader

There are many leading lights among the winemakers of the Swartland. Among them are Chris and Andrea Mullineux, whose winery in association with businessman Analjit Singh has been named Platter’s Winery of the Year on a number of occasions. Other accolades include US magazine naming Andrea its 2016 Winemaker of the Year. Read more about the couple, here https://bit.ly/3njzlQN.

M is for Market

Rural villages and towns are renowned for their markets and the Swartland has its fair share. Among them are the Koringberg Market (tel: 081 478 2071); the Piket-bo-berg Farmers Market, on the last Saturday of every month (tel: 083 208 6873);  the Yzerfontein Dit & Dat Market on December 21 and 23 (Tel: 082 396 2258); the Village Market in Riebeek West (tel: 082 492 8381); and, the Langs Die Bos Market in Malmesbury (tel: 083 761 042

To be continued…

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