While growing slowly more chi chi, Riebeek Kasteel, to the east of Darling on the R315 (in fact, it's even quicker to take the N7 from Cape Town, after which you could head west to reach the R27), is still delightfully rural (yes, those are sheep grazing in that garden), and the streets have retained much of their historical character (the first farms in the area were granted to farmers back in 1704). It's my favorite Winelands village in the Western Cape; locals talk about it as the new Franschhoek because of its exceptionally quaint atmosphere, quirky ex-Cape Town community, and the sweeping vineyards and olive grove surroundings -- although the architecture is not nearly as twee as in Franschhoek itself. The current population is still under 3,000 people, and on a quiet day, you can perform cartwheels in the empty streets. This all changes during the annual Olive Festival, held at the beginning of May, when thousands of visitors drop by to sample the Valley's produce. This can also be done all year round at the Olive Boutique, 49 Church St. (tel. 022/448-1368), or on the Kloovenburg Wine Estate (tel. 022/448-1635; www.kloovenburg.com), which, according to Wine magazine, makes the best olive oil in the country -- and award-winning wines, of course. Also justifiably famous for deep, fruity reds is Allesverloren (tel. 022/461-2320), the oldest estate in the Swartland area. Riebeek Kasteel is a wonderful example of a small South African town, yet with enough bohemian-style cafes-cum-restaurants and galleries to satisfy any urban cravings.
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