Bosberaad, Supernova, Filia, Porseleinberg, Stay Brave, Keep on Punching, El Pervertido, Skermunkel. Sounds like a rather epic line-up of multi-language superheroes or a superb collection of dystopian fantasy novels, doesn’t it? Nope. This is but one expertly curated shelf of inspiring wines that you will encounter at The Wine Kollective in Riebeek Kasteel – the only little wine shop in the universe dedicated to Swartland wines.
How the little shop of awesome came to be
The story goes that Anton Espost opened The Wine Kollective in 2008 when he started to make his own garagiste wine and realised that a garage full of wine is a lot of wine if you don’t have a place to sell it. So, after spending a considerable amount of time in the bars of the Swartland, pondering the situation, he and a friend decided to open their own shop and convince the best wineries in the area to join their cause. Voila!
They acquired the lease to a sweet little shop in Short Street, Riebeek Kasteel and created a slightly mad and eccentric space that reflected the vibe of the times. Two years ago the shop relocated to a purpose-built building: the address is simply given as: Under the big oak tree, opposite the Royal Hotel, Riebeek Kasteel. How can you miss it?
TOP TIP: Keen to stay over after your wine tasting experience? You can book the Santa Cecilia Boudoir on top of The Wine Kollective – a very romantic penthouse under Short Street’s signature oak.
A haven for visitors who want to buy straight from the source
“There are many people who believe wine should be an exclusive thing. Not us. We stock incredible wines because we want to make it accessible. Good wine goes with good food and good people. You shouldn’t put a halo on it or force it,” says Anton. “For this reason, while our main focus is to promote our wonderful Swartland wines, we do stock wines that fall slightly outside of the technical region if it adds something special to our collection.”
And what a collection it is! Because so many of the Swartland producers run small, tight operations that require them to be actively involved in the vineyards and cellar from one day to the next, which doesn’t leave a lot of time for receiving visitors for tastings on their far-flung farms, The Wine Kollective has become a haven for wine enthusiasts who prefer to buy straight from the source.
“This is as close as it gets to buying it straight from the producer as you will get,” explains Anton. “Sure, many people buy their wines in supermarkets or online shopping, but in my opinion, that’s like buying perfume at Bellville station, or picking up your wine at Macro with your twelve-pack of Handy Andy. Where is the romance, I ask you? We try to give people a bit of an experience when they come to buy wine.”
Walk away with a postcard of the Swartland
“When people walk out the door, I want them to know more about Swartland wine than when they came in. This knowing is not just about the brands, it’s about winemakers and their approach and techniques they use. We qualify a wine in terms of the winemaker’s approach. I believe you cannot go around tasting wines, saying this is good, or this is not good – it’s much too subjective. You have to look at what the wine wanted to be and what the wine turned out to be, to determine its merit,” explains Anton.
“Then, even within the perimeters of one cultivar, like Chenin Blanc, you cannot really compare wines with one another if the winemakers’ approach differed wildly. That’s like trying to compare all punk music, or all rock and roll music. Just imagine we went around thinking in terms of red music, white music, and rosé music. Ha! We all know that’s not how it works.”
When asked which wines visitors simply have to taste when they make their way to the Swartland, Anton says he likes to suss out a person’s innate preferences and then use that as a starting point to take them along a tasting journey of single-varietals and blends that they may never have thought to try themselves.
“Someone may come in saying they like this or that and we will use this as inspiration for a tasting or suggestions, but you never know where it may lead. The winemakers have done their job, now it is our turn. This is why we like to stock a winery’s entire range, so we can explore it with our visitors if need be. When you buy your wine at The Wine Kollective, we like to think it’s like picking up a postcard in a foreign country, rather than cutting a picture from a magazine at home. Yes, it’s the wine, but it’s also about where you got it and how you got it. There will always be a little interesting story to tell when you take that bottle back home.”
Visit The Wine Kollective in Riebeek Kasteel
The Wine Kollective is open from 10:00 – 14:30 on Tuesdays, 10:00 – 17:00 from Wednesday to Saturday, 10:00 – 15:00 on Sunday, and closed on Monday (even the most dedicated wine enthusiasts have to take a break!). Keen to brush up on your Swartland wine knowledge before you visit? Take a look at their website to find out which vintages you stock. You can even order some online if you won’t be able to make it out to the Swartland soon, but we highly recommend that you come visit Anton in person – the interaction with this interesting man is half the fun!
QUICK LINKS >> Website: www.thewinekollective.co.za | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Telephone Number: 076 012 9204