Swartland, meaning Black Land in Afrikaans, is so called because of the seemingly black leaves of the Renosterbos plants in midsummer. Until twenty years ago, the area was mainly known for its wheat fields and animal husbandry. However, farmers have planted vines in this area, located on the West coast, about 100km north of Cape Town, for decades, so there are still old vineyards in the region. Inland Swartland includes two districts: Malmesbury and Riebeekberg. For some time now, new, young winemakers have settled here radically establishing themselves in part through their commitment to the old gnarly vineyards that yield little but offer so much. It is now recognised that wines of high quality can be made here, especially from Syrah/Shiraz and red Rhône-style blends. Inland, the annual rainfall is around 250 millimetres, rising to 600 millimetres nearer the coast. The average summer temperature is 31 – 35º Celsius. On the Western coast there are some cooling influences from the Atlantic Ocean which helps the grapes here to achieve a different profile from their hotter inland counterparts.
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