Awaken your palate at Kloovenburg Wine and Olive Estate in the Riebeek Valley

Kloovenburg Wine & Olive Estate in the Riebeek Valley is one of those historic South African farms that takes your breath away. It’s at once vibrant and innovative, and also inextricably woven into the very fabric of the Swartland. The estate as it stands at the foot of Kasteelberg today has been farmed in some capacity since the 1704, when governor Willem Adriaan van der Stel gave it to Jan Bothma, who was already settled in Stellenbosch, and used his Swartland holdings mainly for livestock. 

After this, it passed from one hand to another until it was bought by Pieter Stephanus du Toit (a local rugby legend affectionately known as Piet Spiere) in 1958. Piet and his wife Barbara started small – he was a BCom graduate from Stellenbosch University, she was a teacher, and they learned about farming as they went along. When current owner and proprietor Pieter du Toit joined his father on the farm in 1987 and married his wife Annalene in 1988, they continued with the same philosophy: start small, work hard and success will follow.

The Du Toit family in front of their cellar at Kloovenburg Estate in Riebeek Kasteel.

And follow it did! These days Kloovenburg is widely known for their exceptional wines and olive products. Their vineyards stretch along the lower contours of Kasteelberg across a diverse collection of soils, altitudes and different slopes. Of the farm’s 300 hectares, 110 are under wine grapes, the best 30% of which are reserved for making Kloovenburg’s own wines. Pieter, his sons and a few family members made the first Kloovenburg wine, 200 bottles of unfiltered Pinotage, by hand (and foot) in 1997. The current 200-ton cellar was built in 2000, and winemaker Jolandi Fouche joined the team in November 2014.

Jolandie Fouché, Kloovenburg wine maker, in the vineyards on the slopes of Kasteelberg.

The olive groves that herald the entrance to the picturesque Riebeek Valley were planted in 1989 to provide job opportunities for seasonal workers during the months between the grape harvest and the pruning of the vineyards. Today, Kloovenburg has 23 hectares of olive groves. The first olive oil was pressed on the farm in 2000, and the fruit is still handpicked to prevent bruising. These days, the estate offers a wonderful variety of olive oils, bottles olives, and beauty products that can be sampled on site and ordered online for delivery throughout the country and abroad. 

Speaking of sampling, if you’re headed into the Riebeek Valley it would be a great idea to make Kloovenburg your first port of call, for one simple reason – tasting room manager Willie Liebenberg is the perfect person to awaken your palate and get you ready to explore the region’s many tasty offerings with all 10 000 of your taste buds blazing. Also, Willie loves the Swartland and it shows. 

Willie Liebenberg, your friendly host at the Kloovenburg cellar and tasting room.

“The Santam Swartland wine route is a very unique place. We’ve got so many different terroirs along this one route,” Willie enthuses. “You’ve got the Paardeberg, which has decomposed granite soils, and Riebeek Kasteel with its shale and Hutton soils, which means the same cultivars can taste completely different within a range of 10km.”

“We also farm under harsh conditions in general, and here in the valley it gets even hotter than it would get in the Paardeberg or in Malmesbury because they get more wind. There are a lot of small things like this that play a big role. You can come here to the valley and taste three different varietals, go over the mountain and taste those same varietals and it would be another world.”

Willie and his team pride themselves on offering a variety of tastings that showcase the region’s exceptional terroir, which can booked in advance online. This includes an informative olive tasting, wine tasting, wine and olive pairing, as well as a more in-depth wine and olive tasting. Walk-in tastings are welcome, but booking ahead ensures that a team member will be on hand to give you their undivided attention and share all their knowledge about the products, the region and what makes it so special. 

Kloovenburg’s wine and and olive pairing.

“If you’re an entry-level wine lover, our pairings will allow you to really discover the bouquet of our wines in all its complexity. It quite literally teases your taste buds so you can get to grips with what happens where on your palate. We’ve each got 10 000 taste buds but we hardly use them – this is why we tailor tasting sessions that make it come alive. Once you’ve awakened your palate here at Kloovenburg, you can then head into the rest of the valley to taste all the wonderful olives and wines and appreciate it fully.”

To this end, Willie might pair the Kloovenburg Blanc de Noir Shiraz Brut with chilli & garlic-infused olive oil, and serve the Kloovenburg Shiraz alongside some smoked black olives

“Our Blanc de Noir Shiraz Brut is a mid-palate vintage that had short skin contact, which means it’s not a spicy wine. The added carbon dioxide adds a candy-floss effect for a nice refreshing finish – it’s perfect for a sundowner. When you pair this with the chilli-infused olive oil, the chilli only becomes active when the heat of your palate warms it up. Then when you drink the wine, you taste how it enriches the spice but takes the sting away. It’s absolutely delicious with Thai foods and those hot Durban curries that really make you sweat,” explains Willie. 

“The Shiraz I pair with a smoked olive that goes nicely with the smokiness on the nose of the wine, which is a result of being aged in a new barrels. By pairing these flavours, you also become more aware of the sweetness of the wine that will become more apparent on the back of your palate just before you swallow.”

And this is just the tip of the iceberg; to learn more you need to join Willie in the tasting room. While you’re at it, we highly recommend taking a look at the olive-based body products available. Annalene developed the collection over many years, and her range of creams, balms, body butters, soaps, massage oils and lotions are world-renowned for its restorative properties. These beautifully packaged products also make great gifts to take back home after a visit to the valley. 

TOP TIP! Keen to stick around a little longer? No problem – you can pack your own picnic basket, take a bottle wine and camp out on the stoep underneath the century-old oaks. Kloovenburg offers a range of cheeses, charcuterie, bread and olive products that make for the perfect al fresco spread. It’s so heavenly you may be tempted not to venture onwards at all and stay on in the Kloovenburg Pastorie Guesthouse.

The Kloovenburg Pastorie Guesthouse in Riebeek Kasteel.

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