Swartland

Swartland

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Swartland VineyardsUp in the mountains north of Cape Town, the revolutionaries are massing. This is the Swartland – ''the black land’’ – a place of big skies, where wheat fields blaze, grey-barked renosterbos (''rhinoceros bush’’) grows in abundance and the landscape is chequered with vineyards.

When it comes to wine, nowhere in South Africa is as exciting as Swartland right now. This place feels like frontier country. The vineyards aren’t new – many of them were planted decades ago – but traditionally it was the grain crop they took seriously here. Grapes were trucked into the nearest co-op and lost in a tidal wave of mediocrity. Now a new generation of winemakers is hunting out those precious parcels of gnarled old vines – they produce more intensely flavoured grapes – and making wine that everyone is talking about.

It all started in the late Nineties when Charles Back, already the owner of an estate in Paarl, bought a small farm near Malmesbury, put in a winemaker called Eben Sadie, and began making wines under the Spice Route label but operating independently since 2001.  

 

While Carla Kretzel and her family have been there at Lammersoek since 1995, now more and more people have made their way to Swartland, among them the revolution’s other key figures: Adi Badenhorst, previously the winemaker at Rustenberg; Chris Mullineux and his Californian wife Andrea; and Marc Kent, of Boekenhoutskloof in Franschhoek (you might already know his Chocolate Block and Porcupine Ridge wines), who has a new project called Porcelain Mountain.

The winemaking founders of the Swartland Independent believe in minimal intervention in both the vineyard and winery, minimal new oak and the use of a limted number of grape varietals considered best suited to the area. All of this is focused on producing wines that are a true expression of their origin.

About Kinnegar

Kinnegar Wines was born almost by accident and been growing organically since.

In 1998, I was in the midde of a two year diploma course with the London Wine & Spirits Trust when an opportunity came up to visit South Africa's Western Cape. Naturally, I was keen to avail of the opportunity to learn more about viticulture and winemaking in South Africa.

We had an excellent guide who brought us to a number of the Cape's leading estates including Thelema and De Trafford where we had in depth vineyard and cellars tours. At the end of the day, I wanted to take back some of the wonderful wines we had tasted for our own use. It was not possible to take two or three cases of wine with us on our flight and shipping such a small quantity was more than the cost of wines. So I had the mad idea of shipping a pallet! Clearly, I had to start selling these wines and so began Kinnegar Wines. Ashford Castle took many of the wines and continue to list them and newer arrivals ever since.

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