The wineries situated close to Malmesbury, the main business centre of the Swartland, range from a private company to small privately owned cellars. Spread out over a large area, the wineries produce diverse wines due to the differing soils and climates of the area.
Although summers here are typically very hot and dry, some farms catch the cool sea breezes from the Atlantic Ocean and hence have a cooler climate. Soils range from sandy (ideal for Rhone cultivars) to deep red and fertile (perfect for dry-land vineyards), while others derive from granite.
The Paardeberg ('horse mountain') divides the Paarl and Swartland wine regions. This hilly, off-the-beaten-track region offers delightful surprises waiting around every bend.
The climate during winter is very cold, with an average rainfall of 400-600 mm. Summer is typically very hot during the day, with cooler temperatures at night.
Some of the highest vineyards above sea level in the Swartland region are found here, at about 700 m. Vines are planted on the slopes of the Paardeberg in relatively deep soil consisting of decomposed sandstone, granite and some clay, while glenrosa-scali-type soil is found on the lower northeastern slopes.
Nestled in the protective shadow of the Kasteelberg (‘castle mountain’), the villages of Riebeek West and Riebeek Kasteel are the perfect retreat for any city dweller. Take your own time to discover the wineries, eateries, shops and art galleries.
The vineyards of the Riebeek Valley stretch along the lower contours of the Kasteelberg. The soil is mainly Malmesbury shale, with loamy soil on the higher grounds and sandy loam lower down the slopes, interspersed with rich Hutton soils. The climate is perfect for viticulture, with the low-rainfall summer months tempered by cool afternoon breezes, and the cold winters allowing the vines to rest and build up reserves.
The wines of this region are made from grapes cultivated from a vast climatically variable area, stretching from the banks of the Berg River to the foot of the Groot Winterhoek Mountains in Porterville.