An Open Invitation
I would like to extend a personal invitation to you to visit the Santam Swartland Wine & Olive Route and to experience our gorgeous and diverse area.
Traditionally a wheat-producing agricultural region, the Swartland has in recent years embraced tourism and now offers numerous activities and facilities for visitors.
Unlike other wine routes, the Santam Swartland Wine & Olive Route is not centered around one town, but covers a large and geographically diverse area.
Malmesbury – capital of the Swartland
The bustling town of Malmesbury, home to the head office of the wine route, is situated about 70 km from the Cape Town. The beautiful historical buildings dotted around the town form part of the Malmesbury Historic Walk, which includes the local Museum.
Malmesbury’s annual Musiek Oppi Lande Festival, held in August, is a must for Afrikaans music lovers.
Paardeberg – off the beaten track
The Paardeberg, just south of Malmesbury in the direction of Paarl, is the ideal destination for those interested in outdoor activities such as 4X4 and hiking trails. Visiting one of the private cellars and meeting the locals here is part of this unique and very personal experience.
The Riebeek Valley – home of the olive
The quaint villages of Riebeek Kasteel and Riebeek West nestle at the foot of Kasteelberg (‘Castle Mountain’), about 20 km from Malmesbury. Surrounded by vineyards and olive groves the area, affectionately known as the Riebeek Valley, is home to many artists and creative individuals. Not to be missed are the very popular Riebeek Valley Olive Festival on the first weekend in May and the Riebeek Shiraz & Art Festival in October.
The Piketberg – best-kept secret
The Piketberg area in the north encompasses the town with its surrounding farms of wheat and vineyards, and the mountain. This hidden gem of the Swartland is a special place of natural beauty, and a trip up the mountain is a must for any visitor. Bountiful fruit orchards are surrounded by the natural vegetation which is rich in proteas, restios and ericas of every description. Horse riding and hiking are some of the activities on offer.
Porterville – flying and flowers
Not too far from Piketberg lies Porterville, at the foot of the Olifants and Groot Winterhoek mountains. The dry, hot summers with their powerful thermals make this the ideal location for hang-gliding. Porterville is famous for the rarest of flowers, the Disa uniflora, which flower during January and February in the Groot Winterhoek Nature Reserve. A must-see here is Waterval, with its 22 constant waterfalls.
Swartland wineries – deliciously diverse
The wineries are spread throughout this unique region with its varying landscapes and climates. This production area results in a range of wines that are hard to beat not only for their quality but also for enormous diversity.
Daily wine tasting, cellar tours and sales are offered at most cellars. Some of the wineries – especially those in the remote Paardeberg area – offer tasting by appointment only.
Swartland olives – to eat and to beautify
The Mediterranean climate of the southwestern Cape of South Africa, into which the Swartland falls, makes it ideal for growing olives. These hardy and attractive little evergreen trees thrive in the long, hot summers of the region, and their fruit is harvested in autumn and winter.
Like wine, there’s a certain mystique attached to olives. They can’t be eaten straight from the tree, and must undergo processing before they are palatable. This done, the ways in which olives can be prepared, from pickling to pastes, are endless, and the cornucopia of delicious olive products available in the Swartland is testimony to the creativity and talent of its olive producers.
Our olive oils, which similarly come in a range of lip-smacking preparations, from chilli to lemon, are among the best in the world.
And it’s not only the taste-buds that are set tingling: Swartland olives are also made into a variety of beauty products, from massage and bath oils to lip balms, body scrubs, shampoos and lotions.
I look forward to seeing you in the sensational Swartland with its fascinating landscapes and truly exceptional wines.