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take your head out of the sand

The Swartland area of the Western Cape, a mere forty minutes drive from Cape Town, encompasses a uniquely diverse geographic region. From the undulating hills of the Paardeberg in the south to the rolling waters of the Berg River in the north, this is a land of infinite vistas.

Here, on the slopes of the looming Kasteelberg lie the charming historical towns of Malmesbury, Piketberg and Porterville, and the twin villages of Riebeek-Kasteel and Riebeek-Wes in the Riebeek Valley. Sweeping wheat fields, gold in summer, mint-green in winter, are punctuated by azure dams on working farms where sheep and cattle dot the landscape.

During the wildflower season (between June and November, depending on the rains) the natural vegetation of fynbos plants, proteas, restios and ericas becomes a kaleidoscope of vibrant colour and the rich resident birdlife is complemented with steppe buzzards and black-shouldered kites.

A large percentage of the vines in the area are grown under dry-land conditons, in bush form. Because the vines are not irrigated, they are of an excellent quality with various concentrated flavours. These dry-land vines are also sought after for blending with those from irrigated vineyards. The Swartland was initially renowned for its full-bodied red and fortified wines but the area has recently produced some top-table white wines and continues to produce top port-style wines. 

The Swartland was originally called "Het Zwarte Land" (Black Country) by Jan van Riebeeck, with the indigenous Renosterbos still giving the Swartland its characteristic dark colour at certain times of the year.

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