Farm boy breaks the wine mould

Wine brand owner Denzel Swarts, from Tafelsig, is founder and director of Son of the Soil Leadership Foundation.

Beyond the taste, smell and look of a wine is the story it tells when sipping it says a Tafelsig wine expert.

Wine advisor Denzel Swarts, 33, from Tafelsig, will be telling the story of his wine label Son of the Soil, which he has captured in three wines.

“Yes, I will be showing wines but it is more about a story of a young man, who grew up on a farm, without the convenience of money to formally study the art of winemaking,” he said.

Mr Swarts will be talking to Cape Town Food and Wine Festival goers, while they taste three different wines – chenin blanc, a pinotage and a spakling wine – each representing a phase in his life.

And through the Son of the Soil Leadership Foundation, he helps to equip young people to become active citizens and authentic leaders.

His tasting sessions, which will run every two hours, from noon to 4pm, will seat six people at a time and allow him to tell the story of this young man, who grew up on Simonsig wine estate his struggle for education to become a graduate of Elsenburg Agricultural Training Institute, in Stellenbosch, and the success of producing his own brand.

Mr Swarts is a third generation farmworker, who has broken the mould to become a renowned wine adviser.

He says there is a taste for every palate and that he advises you how to enjoy the wine.

Guests at his table will first sip a chenin blanc titled “Break the mould”, which represents his life, growing up on a farm, a care-free life, which many children enjoyed.

“These children are care-free, cute, soft and gentle, which is evident in the fruit-driven, expressive nature of this wine,” he says.

The pinotage, entitled “The undiscovered jewel,” tells the story of Mr Swarts not having any money but a dream to study further.

“I used every possible opportunity to advance my career,” he says.

Using his pocket money, he enrolled at Elsenburg and was challenged to change the face and race of staff at the front of a wine house.

He said having been a diamond in the rough and being polished, he is able to bring a high value to the wine industry and its development.

He said just like the pinotage was off to a rough start in South Africa, because of is grape cultivar and given a second chance, so was he.

“The pinotage was put to the test in a blind competition, during which judges were not able to see labels or the grapes (the wine) came from but had proven itself in the 1950s to re-emerge,” he said.

The tasting ends with a glass of bubbly, the spumante sparkling wine called “The infinite sparkle” forms part of any celebration.

“These wonderful bubbles make you feel good and want to enjoy it with people,” he says.

“I had the opportunity in my life to go full circle and get back into the wine industry and achieve certain successes.

“So now I want to pour my experience to other individuals, to bring joy to others and to be able to celebrate those successes with others.”

Mr Swarts says the festival will do much more than just showcase alcohol.

“Many see it as a substance to get drunk on and not the time, skill and effort it takes to craft a bottle of wine,” he says.

Explaining this, he says from the way the vine is cut, to the blossom, the extreme hot and cold weather conditions workers have to endure, all contribute to the quality of a bottle of wine.

Mr Swarts will be accompanied by three of his mentees, Oval North High Schoool matriculants Keanan August, 18, Melvin Wakefield, 18, and Jamie van Wyk, 20, a student at Sommelier Academy of South Africa.

There is no charge to sit at Mr Swarts’s table and proceeds of wine sales will be donated to the Son of the Soil Foundation.

The Cape Town Food and Wine Festival takes place at Westridge Gardens on Sunday and Monday September 23 and 24. The Monday is a public holiday, Heritage Day.