Producing wine since 1659 South Africa has a long history in the wine industry. It was not until the 1990s when Apartheid was ended, and the world's export market opened up, that South African wines began to experience a renaissance. Many producers in South Africa quickly adopted new viticultural and winemaking technologies. The presence of flying winemakers from abroad brought international influences and focus on well-known varieties such as Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. Since then they have become a source of quality wines at very reasonable prices.
Wine regions of South Africa.
Western Cape region.
A large area which covers every appellation except those in the Northern Cape. Within the western cape region there are 6 districts, each of the districts have multiple wards where wine is produced. The region is roughly the size of England, 50,000 sq miles!
The principal and most important wine areas are the following six.
Situated to the South of Cape Town on the Cape Peninsula, it receives cooling oceanic influences which gives slow long ripening times, Sauvignon Blanc doing very well from this area.
Second oldest wine region in South Africa after Constatia, producing 14% of the country’s annual wine. The seven wards of Stellenbosch are well known for the production of red wines, in particular from CabernetSauvignon, Merlot, Pinotage and Shiraz. White wines are made from Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc.
For a large part of the 20th Century Paarl was the centre of wine production in South Africa, the state run giant Co-operative KWV, was based in the area. Recently the Stellenbosch region has become the most influential area, the university has improved the viticulture and winemaking.
This area was settled by French Huguenots who brought their tradition and winemaking skills with them. They produce full flavoured white wines with higher acidity, notably with Semillon and Chardonnay.
Breede River Valley.
This warm area can be very dry and relies on irrigation from the River Breede. The Worcester district is responsible for between one fifth to a quarter of the entire production of wine in South Africa. Bonnievale ward is the most notable sub-region of Robertson, noted for it’s Chardonnay and Shiraz wines.
The cool climate of this area is lending itself to producing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in Walker Bay and Elgin. Also Sauvignon Blanc is suited to this area. The Sophie t’ Blanche is a fabulous example of an Elgin Sauvignon.