The wonderfully warm and welcoming Swartland area of the Western Cape 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. Here lie the charming historic towns of Malmesbury in the south, Piketberg and Porterville in the north, and the twin villages of Riebeek Kasteel and Riebeek West to the west, nestled on the slopes of the looming Kasteelberg. To the east lies the charming town of Darling.The Swartland is also home to the oldest colonial hotel of South Africa, The Royal Hotel in Riebeek Kasteel. All of this is just 40 minutes' drive north of Cape Town.
Jan van Riebeeck called this softly undulating country between the mountain ranges "Het Zwarte Land" (the Black Country) because of the endemic Renosterbos (Elytropappus rhinocerotis). After the rains, mainly in winter, the Renosterbos (Rhino Bush) takes on a dark appearance when viewed from the distance in large numbers. This is due to the fine leaf-hairs adhering to the leaves when wetted. The vineyards lie along the banks of the Berg River and in the foothills of a number of imposing mountain ranges that lie in the Swartland, producing a constant blue and black backdrop to the beauty of the vineyards. Wine had been produced here for centuries but over the past two decades the region has grown tremendously in importance and complexity. Viticulture in Swartland is practiced predominantly under dryland conditions, without or with minimal irrigation. Wines produced here are of an extraordinary quality, often sublime and ultimately pretty sought after.
Initially the Swartland was 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's wide fertile plain is also the bread basket of Cape Town with its wheatfields reaching up to the foot of the mountains, interrupted by (of course) wine, fruit and vegetable farms. Sweeping wheat fields – golden in summer, mint-green in winter – are punctuated by azure dams on working farms, and sheep and cattle dot the landscape. Huge swathes of natural vegetation burst with fynbos plants – proteas, restios and ericas – and the rich resident birdlife is complemented in spring by migrants, with steppe buzzards and black shouldered kites common along roadside fence posts. Family is at the heart of all wines produced in the Swartland! Each and every winemaker will welcome visitors with warmth and cheer that is customary to the Swartland.
The Revolution came about in November 2010 with twenty farms on board of which five cellars made a financial contribution: AA Badenhorst Family Wines, Mullineux Family Wines, Porseleinberg and two of Eben Sadie's Cellars: Sequillo Cellars and The Sadie Family Wines. The essence of this annual event was probably best captured by Harry Reginald Haddon, who stated: "I can confidently say that the Swartland Revolution was by far the most enjoyable wine event I have been to. It was run with Germanic efficiency but full of South African "gees"(spirit). There was a balance between formal tastings and lounging on the grass sipping Bollinger. We ate till we were fit to burst, and drank till we were dancing (read: falling off) hay bales, we chatted & laughed, sipped and smiled; this was a revolution against boring wines, against boring events; this was a revolt against the plain and the sad, the straight and the narrow; it was simply a benchmarking of joie de vivre."
After brokering wine for a couple of years and then continuing to sell it, Jean-Louis had an idea of starting an endeavour to sell the best wine that South Africa has to offer. Considering his studying at the Cape Wine Academy (which still continues 4 years later), the next step was a given. With the help of two equally enthusiastic South Africans residing in London the idea of a wine business specialising in South African wine from the Swartland took hold. The Aim was simple, put on display the best that South Africa has to offer and get it to the masses. The Revolution has started and we hope that you will join us as comrades in arms. Jean-Louis has a passion and knowledge of various parts of the wine trade. He also welcomes any opportunity to share his knowledge about South African wines with others. With the help of the Cape Wine Academy, Jean-Louis can offer a personal service for individual or company, whether it is helping choose a hard to find wine, organising and hosting a wine tasting and dinner, selecting wines for investment or (with the help of Cellar Corner) storing and managing wine collections. Jean-Louis can bespoke the service to any requirements and is happy to offer impartial advice. He is currently studying for his Cape Wine Masters.
"After my first glass of the sadly now discontinued Lammershoek's Aprilskloof Red, Red Wine (yes thats twice) in a wine bar in Fulham, I was hooked......A Times magazine article and a subsequent visit to the Swartland later and I was converted!! A follower of the Revolution, a rebel...It started with Hugo at Annexkloof and was cemented by Penny Hughes with their Nativo Red! Having been the grape growers for the best part of 50 years, the Swartland knows how to produce wine grapes and has now gone and done the unthinkable....... producing their own! and what wonderful wines they are.So convinced was I that I have now started selling them, all of them! I am sure that once you have tasted these wines you will be a convert as much as I am. A rebel and revolution follower. In the platter guide through the board the producers from the Swartland have scored remarkably well and as such I believe that only good things will come from this area and these wine makers of note. Join us in our revolution and feast on the best that South Africa has to offer from its treasure chest of wines."