I woke up on Sunday morning with one of those hangovers where you start groaning before you even open your eyes. I should’ve known better being a veteran of 4 Swartland Revolutions, but we enjoyed revolting so much on Saturday that we didn’t want the party to end.

The 2013 edition of the Swartland Revolution was bigger than ever before for many reasons. With over 400 tickets sold it was by far the most attendees that ever revolted. Yet, in spite of the increased numbers, It was the slickest organisation of the event ever. It went like clock work. Not that there were any major issues in the past, this year was just fantastic. The addition of air conditioners to the tasting tent was a master stroke by the organisers, the food was a step up in my opinion from in the past (again, the food wasn’t bad in the past – this year was just great) and the entertainers (Adi, Eben, Callie and the Mullineux’s) were in fine voice. I particularly enjoyed how Adi told his father in law not to be a doos in front of a packed tasting. Adi clearly is a bit of an adrenalin junkie.


Friday opened with a tasting of Domaine du Pegau wines. A Chateauneuf du Pape producer with a few 100 point wines in her (yes she’s a girl – Laurence Feraud) stable. We got to taste one of the 100 pointers and herein lies the crux of why we attend the Revolution. I certainly do not have the budget to buy wines like that, nor are they easy to get your hands on. The organisers of the Revolution always get special producers from France to showcase their wines and I consider myself fortunate to be able to taste them. Friday’s Chateauneuf’s also taught me a valuable lesson – drink them either very young, or leave them to age at least a decade. The wines that were 5 years or so old, were very muted, whilst a 2011 showed lovely bright fruit and structure.


A huge highlight for me and many of the other revolutionaries was listening to Jan Boland Coetzee tell anecdotes about the local industry during the Saturday morning tastings. The man has forgotten more about wine than most of us will ever learn. What a legend.Saturday’s tastings included a showcase of old Swartland wines, mostly from Swartland Cellars. 5 wines from the 70’s and 80’s, all different varieties (Cinsault, Pinotage, Tinta Barocca, Shiraz and a sweet Hanepoot) with a scarcity factor without peer.


A short break for beer and pulled pork was followed by my personal favourite tasting of the weekend. 3 Loire producers showed 6 of their Chenin Blancs – my favourite white variety from one of my favourite wine regions in the world. The young Frenchmen – Vincent Careme from Domaine Vincent Careme, Benjamin Joliveau from Domaine Huet and Damien Delecheneau from Domaine La Grange Tiphaine – have a similar outlook on wine like the Swartland Independent guys have. They don’t shun tradition, but they are not shy to push new boundaries.


The party started in earnest after that with many a G&T, chased with the odd bottle of Mullineux White or Sequillo, chased by the odd shooter left us with the above mentioned hangovers. I vaguely remember spending time in several different venues around town (including the now, legendary Street Party) and my girlfriend running away from me because she didn’t want to drink anymore. It was awesome! It was the best Swartland Revolution ever.


A little aside on the venue – The Royal Hotel. A beautiful place with immense potential, but year after year just missing the management boat when the Revolution comes around. 4 Years in, and they still haven’t figured out that they have to increase their staff compliment for the weekend – especially Friday. The service slip ups were quite embarrassing. One of our friends waited 45 minutes (!!) for a toasted cheese and tomato (I can make it in less time than that if I have to first go out and buy the ingredients) – and this was hours before the event started and there were hardly anyone around. Later on the bar got slammed as everyone wanted G&T’s. We waited in vain for 25 minutes to get a drink at the bar.

I tried going next door to the hotel’s off license but they were out of tonic – all their stock was sent to the bar. Of course I also found one of the barmen outside sending a text rather than helping out inside. Why does the hotel not expect the masses that descended on their bar? Let us forget one moment about the service fail – surely the aim for the hotel must be to make as much money as they possibly can? Why not set up a second bar and hire in more staff and you can maximise the people you serve and thereby make more money and enhance the service reputation of small towns? I truly do not understand missed opportunities like that. If only we could start a revolution at the Royal!


There were other irritations, but frankly this is not about the Royal, rather the greatness that was the 2013 Swartland Revolution.  Get your name on the mailing list for next year.  It will change the way you view wine.

There are a huge pile of photos on our Facebook page – go have a look (here and here).