Testalonga was started by husband and wife, Craig and Carla Hawkins, in 2008. After many years of traveling and making wine - Matassa, Terroir Al Limit, Dirk Niepoort, and others - they settled in the Swartland region of South Africa and made 2 barrels of a skin macerated Chenin - the first orange wine made in South Africa! They have never been part of the mainstream wine world, making wines in their own style. This independent and uncompromising approach has not always endeared them to South African authorities - hence the name Testalonga El Bandito.
Testalonga is the name of a bandit from Sicily. It was also the nickname of an old Italian guy who made his white wines like red wines. Craig asked him via a friend whether he could use the name for his labels and he laughed and gave his assent. They were the first of the Swartland Revolution crew to start their own vineyard project in 2015 at the top of the Olifantsberg mountain. It’s a warm climate still, but there are nice breezes. ‘The reason we bought this place is that it’s away from everything, so we can just live our lives and be who we are,’ says Craig, ‘but also there is good soil for planting vineyards, and there is water.’