The move to Wine and Hospitality

Swartland Wine Making at Fynbos Estate

In an earlier post I talked about how Swartland Winery went bankrupt and with it went our means of income. This of course made us rather frantic, but under no circumstances could we contemplate losing the farm. So after gnashing our teeth and wailing a bit, we set about re-inventing ourselves by increasing our wine making and by turning to hospitality.

In this blog we shall look at the wine side of things and follow up with hospitality at a later stage.

Up until the Swartland Winery Debacle we had been making a few barrels of wine on our stoep. This stoep situation was altogether funny as the pics show, but never less than one Saturday afternoon when Johan was stomping grapes in the tank and I went off to sleep in the farmhouse. Somehow he lost his ladder and so ended up stuck in the wine container for hours and hours calling furiously. That was a rough weekend for me.

Our next step up the ladder of wine making so to speak, was to leave the stoep and make wine in what is now the office. We insulated the small room and for some years turned out some quite good wine.

But in the long run this wasn’t going to cut the mustard either and we just had to grow bigger to survive. Hence we set about renovating the old 1820 winery.

This was a huge job but it allowed us to transform our wine production from 1000 litres to 3000 litres and then to our final capacity which is 9000.

Changing our vineyards

Alongside changing the wine related buildings, came changing the vineyards. The last year we grew grapes for Swartland we had to let 300 tonnes rot on the vineyards – as it cost more to harvest them than we would get paid for them. This was distressing and the following year we pulled all but 16 hectares out. We then planted some of the Rhone cultivars that we wanted to make wine from – including Shiraz and Viognier.

To be honest we had a fair amount of bad luck particularly with the Shiraz. Having ploughed the mountain to a depth of 2 metres we planted Shiraz seedlings at enormous expense. Johan then when on a field trip for the weekend and we had the biggest storm we have ever had in 20 years. It was wild and full of wind and rain. And as could be expected, in the middle of the night the whole two loosened metres slid down the mountain, leaving us with the remnants of our seedings. This is why our Shiraz is not ever a large crop

In the next blog we turn to the mountain road and the move to hospitality