Would you believe that the Overberg is home to one of the most pioneering Wine Estates near Swellendam, Sijnn Wines is making headlines and breathing new life into the South African wine industry with rare and interesting cultivars. So with grape harvest in the Western Cape in full swing we thought it appropriate to share (and brag a bit about) this pioneering Wine Estate near Swellendam.

wine estates near swellendam

As you cross the bridge over the Breederiver when driving from Swellendam toward Cape Town a turn-off on the left hand side leads you onto a gravel road. What might seem like a lonely gravel road is really a main route for local farmers and during grain harvest time in the Overberg (October to December) you might be surprised to find quite an overload of harvesters and large trucks carrying grains to Protem and Swellendam. The route takes you through the Napky District toward the small, unscathed town of Malgas on the banks of the Breederiver. Driving through this district in the summer months it is hard to believe that anything will grow here – the Overberg has a way to turn quite dry just to get ready for planting season once Autumn sets in.

wine estates near swellendam

However as you pass the turn-off to Malgas and take a left toward Lemoentuin you find a beautiful, lush green landscape on the riverbank – somewhat of an oasis. This landscape is the home of Sijnn Wines the brainchild of David and Rita Trafford and the only winefarm and cellar in the region. The Traffords discovered the land while on holiday in Malgas in 2000, the soil and landscape reminded them of Portugal and they were immediately intrigued. A purchase agreement and more than 200 soil profiles later approximately ten hectares of vines were planted and the name Sijnn Wines was appropriated to the venture – fittingly so as the word sijnn is derived from the Khoisan word meaning riverbank.

wine estates near swellendam
An example of one of the soil profiles on the left – amazing how these beautiful fruits can grow in the rough and rocky soil.

What makes Sijnn Wines so unique (and their wines so wonderful) is not only their unique location but also their strong focus on having nature keep the upper hand in the growth and production processes. For this reason and due to the feeble essence of the soil here (it’s really unbelievable that anything grows in this rough terrain) vines are not trellised but rather kept in its natural form as bush vines – yielding lower tonnages but in return providing a grape of much higher quality resulting in a superior wine. Bush vines are harvested by hand, of course, and Sijnn Wines wouldn’t have it any different even though harvesting by hand is fast becoming an unconventional practice in South Africa due to increased trellising and mechanization.

wine estates near swellendam
Early morning grape picking – the best time of day to pick the fruit for wine making is during the early morning hours.

wine estates near swellendamIn 2015 David furnished the building that was originally meant to become the cellar with all the necessary equipment for making the wine on site – before grapes were sent off to a different location for the wine making process. Until recently grapes were pressed with a traditional press but from the 2016 harvest onward a mechanical press will be used in order to accommodate the larger harvests, hooray more wine!

wine estates near swellendam
The traditional grape press is still on site.
wine estates near swellendam
Both red and white varietals are ‘wooded’ in oak barrels.

Sijnn Wines has become well known for their interesting and bold choices of cultivars and blends – yet another reason we adore their wines so much. They focus on Southern European and Mediterranean varieties that are best suited for the warm and dryer climate of Malgas. Under the expertise of owner and architect-turned-winemaker, David, Sijnn Wines has won numerous accolades and we would certainly give them the Schoone Oordt golden stamp of approval (and appreciation while we’re at it). We love pairing their Sijnn Red, a blend of Mourvedre, Syrah, Touriga Nacional and Trincadeira, with dinner and their lightly wooded Chenin Blanc is perfect with lighter meals or appetizers.

wine estates near swellendam
Young vineyards – this varietal was established in September 2016.

Two new blocks of vines were established in 2016 and we cannot wait to see (and taste) how the new varieties will be incorporated in the already stunning Sijnn Wines collection.

wine estates near swellendam
A view of the Breederiver from one of the vineyards.

If you find yourself over a weekend in the Overberg, then we can highly recommend booking a tasting at Sijnn Wines, the most pioneering wine estate near Swellendam, the beautiful views, friendly people and great wine won’t disappoint.

As usual, we have Elana van Zyl to thank for the amazing photographs!



  • We are interested in coming up for a wine tasting session sometime in April. Is it still just a Saturday that you do this?
    If so how are you placed for numbers (there would be three of us) around the 6th April.

    • Angelle, you are very welcome to contact Charla Haasbroek, the very lovely Sijnn winemaker, for tasting hours and days. They do take guests outside of Saturdays by prior reservation. Charla’s email address is [email protected] and telephone number is 0218801398.
      Happy wine-ing! 🙂

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