Off the Beeten Track – Why you should Visit the Swartland and Wellington Wine Regions

 

Why visit the quiet, dusty region of Swartland? I can give you plenty of reasons, starting with their daring winemaking techniques shaking up the wine industry, the picturesque vast landscapes that feel as though you’ve packed up your life and moved to a remote part of Mexico, not to mention the ample lovely places of accommodation in the area. In need of a quiet getaway to gather your thoughts and reflect? This is the place to do just that!

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A last minute honeymoon surprise by my husband led us to the ever popular Kalmoesfontein farm, where the renowned A.A Badenhorst winery is situated on. A long and winded gravel road leads you to the farm that has three cottages on with a few more still to come. We stayed in the Silo cottage which has an open-planned farm feel with lots of fresh modern touches to the tranquil space.

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Upon check in there was this magnificent picnic spread of cheeses, charcuterie, spreads and freshly baked sourdough bread that was baked on the farm! A picnic basket with a blanket was added in case we decided to take our picnic out on the farm wherever we chose. However, we were so exhausted from all the wine road-tripping that we chose to have our romantic picnic indoors in the comfort of our suite. With no TV, and no mobile devices brought along but lots of books, this place is ideal for the ultimate digital detox, couple getaway or the perfect family vacation for everyone.

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We arrived a tad late which to my dismay meant for us that wine tastings were closed for the day/weekend. My dismay quickly turned to joy when the onsite manager Christine organised a bottle of their deliciously popular Secateurs Chenin Blanc for us to make up for no tastings, which proved to be the perfect accompaniment to the leftover cheese board!

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A simple yet moreish farm breakfast with the freshest homemade sourdough toast accompanied with locally made relish, marmalade and jams and locally produced coffee that gives you just the kick you need to start off your day on the right footing. Breakfast is catered for by the incredibly warm and friendly staff on site. It is encouraged to roam around freely on the farm (with the main homestead off limits of course) Surrounded by patches of veggies, indigenous fynbos, and trees of plump ruby red pomegranates hanging like baubles on a Christmas tree ready to plucked off.

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Our first day, after brekkie, we went wine tripping through Wellington. Stopping by Diemersfontein first to get a taste of their vast offering of wines. I’ve heard so many good things about them but prior to this visit have never been to visit. Well known for their award-winning Pinotage that keeps on racking up plenty of awards every year, Diemersfontein has recently launched another wine label under Thokozani wines.

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Thokozani means “a celebration” and is a BEE Based and belonging to the POC Farmworkers. Thokozani prides itself on empowering their staff on the farm by making them shareholders in the company. This is such a great initiative seeing as the South African winelands does not exactly have a glowing reputation in terms of farm labour. They have 6 different wines, 5 of which are under the label Ovation and are available for sale at Woolworths’ Wine section. R65 gets you a tasting of five different wines of your choice. My favourites are the full-bodied Pinotage and the slightly tannic merlot.

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The staff behind the tasting counter is incredibly knowledgable about their wines and the region in general, and even offered us a few options on where we should go next. Setting us off with a wine map and a taste for more of what the region has to offer.

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Our next stop after a few u-turns, was Andreas Wines. A boutique Winery only specialising in Shiraz winemaking and growing only this varietal on the farm. Situated in the Bovlei valley, just outside of Wellington, this boutique winery is a well hidden gem comprising 4.5 hectares of vineyards, an elegant eighteenth century house and incredibly lush gardens. Having not called ahead and made an appointment for a tasting, the winemaker himself had accommodated us after a Skype call to partners in the U.K. Shaun Meyeridricks, formerly from Boekenhoutskloof (if you’re as much of a fan of their renowned Chocolate Block) Then you’ll want to start planning your visit to book a tasting and maybe even a stay at their luxurious cottages on site!

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Shaun is incredibly passionate and not to mention knowledgable about Syrah as a cultivar. We spoke for almost two hours about Andreas wines, it’s origins and of course all things wine in general. The name Andreas was named after a previous owner, which the now new owners and partners from the U.K decided to keep. Booking is essential and tastings cost R45 pp. We tasted the 2015 vintage of Andreas Shiraz. Bruised dark berry, tart plum and a hint of spice on the palate, with incredible length! To say I was infatuated was understatement! If you buy a bottle or like me a case, the price of the tasting falls away. The one thing that really stuck with me after we left Andreas was the warm hospitality of Shaun, and Henry in charge of their lovely accommodation which I cannot wait to stay at next time! Oh and something Shaun mentioned to us “A bottle of wine should tell a story of the day you went to visit the estate.” To me, opening a bottle of Andreas Shiraz will now remind me of our perfect but brief visit to Andreas and how uniquely passionate the winemaker is.

Unfortunately we did not get a chance to visit some of my other favourite wineries in the Swartland area due to monthly or quarterly scheduled tastings. We will certainly be back and this post will then be updated with plenty more wineries to choose from!

On my list was:

  • A.A Badenhorst Family Wines
  • The Sadie Family
  • Testalonga
  • David & Nadia
  • Mullineux & Leeu

This week Friday I am headed back to the Hemel-en-Aarde region with a few industry professionals to visit Creation Wines. A winery that was on my list when there but sadly had to give it a skip. The excitement is building and I cannot wait to share with you my experience!

And this folks was the end of our honeymoon wine trip!

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Happy Wine Wednesday! 🍷

Dominique x

 

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