Written by: Clifford Roberts; Photography: Johan Viljoen
It’s hard to believe that the world’s first recorded “long-distance” road trip by automobile – as reported by Wikipedia – extended just 106km. The distance may seem paltry now, but for what was essentially a carriage with an engine, the experimental Benz Patent-Motorwagen Number 3 was revolutionary for 1888.
Driver Bertha Benz, wife of Mr Mercedes, could surely smell the roses as she blistered along from Mannheim to Pforzheim at 16km/h.
Do that on a Swartland road, and you’re likely to get offers of assistance. But, we would recommend taking the trip to experience some of the delightful wine tasting rooms along the way.
Nougat, chocolate, oysters & wine!
The Org de Rac winery is situated near Piketberg and presents not only the chance to enjoy spectacular views of surrounding farmlands, but also a variety of interesting activities. There are oysters for sale that may be enjoyed with the farm’s own Cap Classique or your wine of choice, and innovative pairings. These include a curated selection of its white wines with nougat and red wines with chocolate. There’s a menu of pizza, quiches and light bites too.
The meaty offering at Pulpit Rock
While the wines of Pulpit Rock are well-known, less so the pork deli at its tasting room. Produced under De Gift brand, the meat is sold in a variety of forms. Along with pork cutlets, sausages and steaks are products is pork lard paté and kaaiings.
Make a beeline for Marras
Martin “Marras” Lamprecht opened the Riebeek Valley tasting room for his wines in December, doubling up with a laid-back restaurant too. The menu offers platters, burgers, pizza and craft beer. The tasting room is open from Wednesday to Sunday.
Let Allesverloren make your weekend special
Allesverloren’s wine tasting room has extended its hours of business to include Sundays, from 10 am to 3 pm, too. The estate has a range of 10 wines available and is famous for amongst others, its Fine Old Vintage port-style wine. Combine your visit with lunch at its Pleasant Pheasant restaurant, a family-friendly venue.
Olives, glorious olives!
Arguably the most consistently hands-on, deep-dive experience to be had with olives in these parts is on offer at the Olive Boutique. Susan Aird and Derek van der Riet have established their enterprise, founded in 2000, as a landmark of Riebeek Kasteel. Enjoy a variety of tastings of olives in all forms, on the Olive Boutique’s shady stoep. For sale from the shop are extra virgin olive oils, fermented fruit vinegars, table olives, olive pastes, seasoning salts and olive oil based body care products.
Make time for this foodie playground
A veritable Disneyland for foodies, the shop at Het Vlock Casteel in Riebeek Kasteel is filled with over 100 food products. It’s all linked to a successful fruit and farm enterprise. In addition to wines for sale, there’s a myriad of olives and olive preparations, but also jams, chutneys, ice-cream sauces, preserves and fruit in fortified wine, health rusks, and raisins. Good luck making it a quick “pop-in”.
Blend your own wine like a boss
Riebeek Valley Wine Company’s grandly named “tasting emporium” in Short Street, Riebeek Kasteel, lets you get up close and personal with the company’s produce, including its limited and small-batch ranges. Craft beer and gin are for sale too. Visitors are encouraged to “build your own” platter from a selection of cheeses, olive products and cured meats. On the first Sunday of every month, the emporium lets you create your own signature blend, hosted by the company winemaker. To book for this, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Discover some lesser known wine labels
If you don’t have time to visit the off-the-beaten-track wineries in the Swartland then The Wine Kollective is your one-stop shop to stock up on some old favourites and discover some new wine labels.
Take a dip into olive heaven
The Swartland is renowned for its olives, which thrive in the Mediterranean-like climate. Kloovenburg farm pioneered the local industry and offers tastings of olive products – oils, olives, dips and salts – alongside its range of award-winning wines. You’re also welcome to pack your own picnic, with products from Kloovenburg as well as cheeses and meats, to enjoy on the veranda.
Kringe-in-die-Bos restaurant, situated next to the tasting room, is a family friendly venue with and outdoor play area for the kids, whilst the restaurants at Eight Feet Village offer spectacular views of the Riebeek Valley.
A 5-star platter Swartland style
Swartland Winery is one of the region’s powerhouses, producing some 2m bottles a year in 51 styles of red, white, sparkling and fortified wines. A visit to its tasting room undoubtedly requires some time, which is one reason it lays on a selection of snack platters. If you’re traveling as a family, no problem. There’s a jungle gym as well as grape juice and milkshakes for the kiddies.