Berry Picking in Swellendam

Summertime is Berry Season and that means it is time for berry picking in Swellendam.  So we’re blowing the lid off Swellendam’s best kept secret – did you know that our beautiful town in the heart of the Overberg is also the youngberry capital of the world.  Swellendam is home to Wildebraam Berry Estate – the largest youngberry producer in the world.  Wildebraam Berry Estate is responsible for almost 90% of the world’s youngberry production.  Here’s the kicker…Wildebraam Berry Estate is open to the public for youngberry and blackberry picking from mid-November all through the holidays until the end of December.

Berry picking in Swellendam
We visited Wildebraam Berry Estate a week or two before the start of berry season just to make sure those berries are ripening and ready for the upcoming season.

What’s a youngberry you ask?  Oh, just the most delicious, sweet yet subtly sour, ruby red berry that you’ll ever taste. The youngberry, Rubus Cecaesius, is a hybrid between raspberries and blackberries and not only do they make delightful jams, syrups, liqueurs and preserves but they are seriously delectable treats on their own – without the calories might we add!

Berry picking in Swellendam
Berry picking rule number 1: Watch out for the new stems sprouting through the current season’s bearing stems. Berries are such delicate plants and have complex growth phases – at one stage the plants have blooms, young fruit and new growth (the stems that’ll bear next year’s harvest) all at the same time

Wildebraam Berry Estate is situated in the Hermitage Valley just outside Swellendam.  The Hermitage Valley boasts a unique microclimate due to its proximity to the Langeberg Mountain that makes it one of the few optimal areas for berry production in South Africa.  It makes sense that such a distinctive berry is produced in an unique area and we couldn’t be prouder of these beautiful berries that are cultivated just a stone’s throw from Schoone Oordt.

Berry picking in Swellendam
Blooming beautiful berries, almost ready!
Berry picking in Swellendam
We spotted one or two ‘early birds’ (or early berries rather).

In celebration of this exceptional berry, Wildebraam Berry Estate hosts the annual Berry Festival here in Swellendam and in the past few years, the festival has become bigger and better each year.  This year will be the biggest festival yet and promises to be a three-day fun filled retreat for the entire family, with live performances, stalls, local food, loads of kid’s entertainment (queue Lollos) and berry picking, of course!

Berry picking in Swellendam

So while we’d normally leave you with “stop over here on your next trip” or “swing by when you’re in the area again” at the end of our posts, this time we’re going with open up your diary and make your way to Swellendam this summer – berry picking at Wildebraam Berry Estate is adventurous, family-fun at its best!  End-off the day with an ice-cold berry milkshake or coffee and a light meal at Wildebraam’s coffee shop.  Take home loads of fresh berries and a couple of Wildebraam’s famous preserves sold at their shop.  Now that you’ve seen the berries before the berry season make sure to diarise berry season from mid-November till 31 December and bring the family to experience berry season and summer in Swellendam firsthand.

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