Craig Hawkins and Carla Hawkins
Testalonga was started by husband and wife, Craig and Carla Hawkins, in 2008. After many years of traveling the world making wine (Matassa, Terroir Al Limit, Dirk Niepoort, and many others), they settled in the Swartland region of South Africa and made 2 barrels of a macerated Chenin (the first orange wine made in South Africa!)
In 2015, they purchased land on the Northern mountains of Swartland and they started planting vines in 2018. The farm is called Bandits Kloof (kloof means ‘ravine’ in Afrikaans) and is being planted with Mediterranean (the climate similar to the south of France/Sicily) grape varieties like Grenache, Grenache Blanc, Mourvèdre, Carignan, Frappato, Maccabeu, etc. Currently they have 4 hectares planted and will slowly grow to 9 hectares.
The grapes for the El Bandito and Baby Bandito wines all come from organically, dry-farmed vineyards that they rent or work closely with the owners. It is a total of 14 hectares, 9 planted on granite and the rest on sandstone. These are mostly all old vineyards, the oldest being from 1961 (1972 is the year they were registered).
The winemaking is with minimal manipulation – basically no additives or corrections in the cellar, no fining, natural fermentations, and minimal to no sulphur before bottling.