“Once you’re here, you don’t want to be anywhere else.”- Jasper Wickens.
The Swartland Independent is a group of like-minded winemakers who make wine according to the principles of “Swartlandness”. Meaning a core set of values that THEY believe will help produce the best possible wines from the area. Things like minimal manipulation in both the vineyard and the cellar, a focus on varieties that they believe best expresses the terroir i.e. Syrah, Mourvèdre, Grenache noir, Carignan, Cinsault, Tinta barocca, Pinotage, Chenin blanc, Grenache blanc, Marsanne, Roussane, Viognier, Clairette blanche, Palomino (Fransdruif/Vaalblaar), Sémillon (Groendruif), Muscat d’Alexandrie, Muscat de Frontignan, Colombard, and Verdelho. Only 25% new wood, bottled in Burgundy-shaped bottles. It’s almost like a Declaration of Independence and a Code of Conduct to uphold the virtues of Swartland wine, and secure its future. And you know WHAT? It worked.
Jasper Wickens and his viticulturist wife Franziska Wickens live and make wine on her family farm Waterval (Waterfall), in the very heart of the Swartland. Neighbouring some of South Africa’s most sought-after Swartland producers in the Siebritskloof valley on the northern side of the Paardeberg, they are in the proverbial thick of it with people like Adi Badenhorst on Kalmoesfontein, Eben Sadie on Rotsvas, and David & Nadia Sadie. The Paardeberg, with its 500 million-year-old magma, and the resulting domes of granite and microclimates, makes for intriguing winegrowing terroir. The different soil types, specifically granite, offer a freshness unique to the Valley.
The title Swerwer, Afrikaans for Wanderer, is in reference to Jasper’s previous life as a flying winemaker – chasing vintages. Though, like he says, once you discover the Swartland, you don’t care to go anywhere else. Previously winemaker at AA Badenhorst Family Wines, Jasper’s evolution to making his OWN wines was pretty much a given when he started dragging his wing (Afrikaans term for courting – vlerk sleep) around neighbour Franziska Schreiber (then). The Waterval farm had been in her family since 1947, and her grandfather and father (Barry) were responsible for planting many of todays old vines for the Swartland Co-op. Continuing the family tradition, Franziska attended Elsenburg college and took up viticulture, growing and selling grapes to winemakers from surrounding areas.
Today the Swerwer range of wines is a PROUD and HONEST reflection of the inner sanctum of Swartland wine. Still in its infancy, they received the first grapes in 50 years at Waterval in 2019 at the newly established cellar. This range offers a window into the established wines of the Valley and promises to be one of the greats. If you KNOW, you know… you know?