Accidental vinegrower

Arleen van Wyk was thrilled when she discovered that she could rent a tiny smallholding in a rural township outside Cape Town in 1993. It meant she could take her small family away from the gang-infested urban environment which had been her home, and she could also indulge her dreams of growing plants. 

She started a new life growing organic vegetables for the markets she discovered in Cape Town city suburbs. Her eldest child started primary school.

Then came a blow. Arleen’s elderly landlord put the township plot on the realty market, with a plan for a new life in a retirement home. Arleen persuaded him to remain on the property, while she purchased ownership from him with a dividend from monthly sales.

Arleen discovered that her land-owning project had positioned her in South Africa’s renowned Swartland vine growing and wine-making district, though she was 7 miles (10km) from the closest neighbor vineyard. She started planting Syrah vines in 2014 on a section of her property and provided her first crop of ripe grapes to The Township Winery in 2020. 

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