South African Wine and Viticulture

Wines were introduced to the Cape area in 1659, after the arrival of Dutch settler Jan Van Riebeeck. The next governor in charge of the Cape, Simon Van der Stel along with his son began to establish wines for export as they realized the huge potential of the different regions and the perfect conditions that were available for wine producing.

Today there are hundreds of wine farms and wineries all over the Western Cape and Eastern Cape regions and you will even find some new vineyards being established in the Free State, Northern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal Provinces. Due to the vast difference in climates here, there is a large variety of wines that are produced. The most famous wine areas are Stellenbosch, where viticulture is studied at the university there, Franschhoek, where the French Huguenots settled, Constantia, where Simon van der Stel lived, Paarl, Robertson, and Tulbach. These farms are among the oldest in the country and the most productive with stunning Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Shiraz, Pinotage, Blanc de Noir, and Chardonnay being among the best varietals.

If you move to the coast on the eastern side of the Cape you will find another South Africa wine growing area called the Hemel en Aarde Valley. This area is just outside the whale viewing town of Hermanus and produces some interesting white wines as well as reds. On the West Coast you will also find vineyards tucked away and some of the most undiscovered and delicious white wines that are produced in the cooler, windy climate.

Moving to the False Bay area, you will come across the baby in South African viticulture. The Cape Point vineyards are some of the newest in the country, but have already been producing world-class, award winning wines. They are mostly delicious, light white wines due to the windy conditions and sandy soils, but vintners are hard at work to produce a range of red wines that are said to be just as wonderful and popular.

Even in the semi arid regions of the Karoo, wines have taken a strong footing in the economy of the surrounding towns and the terroir here is perfect for producing some of the most amazing muscadels.

Wine has become a talking point in many people’s lives and the international acclaim that many wines have received has ensured that South Africa has made its mark in the industry. With the development of various wine routes in the Cape, tourists can now have exclusive accessibility to all the different varietals that are produced. The wine route is not complete without a tour of the KWV brandy cellar and here you are able to experience the lovely, smooth and long perfected fortified wines that have made this area so popular. Along with the fortified wines, the Classique Cap wines and the muscadel wines have received worldwide appreciation.

As you travel to the different geographically distinct parts of the Cape, you will soon see why this wine region is so wonderful.

With changing climates offering vastly different terroirs, just about any type of wine can be produced to perfection. South Africa has also inspired the rest of the grape growing communities in other countries to experiment with their own geographic areas once thought impossible to grow wine producing grapes in.

As you explore the country, you should stop in at the many wonderful restaurants along the wine route and inside the wine estates offering an extensive range of top quality wines from the red, white, sparkling and fortified varieties. You will be greeted with great food, great people and the best wines of the region. If you want to take some of these wines home with you, be sure to stop in at the wine shops found in every region. Here you can choose from any wine from any of the farms in the area and you will pay the cheapest prices for them too. Most of the wine shops will also be happy to ship your package to your home, no matter what country you live in to make buying your South African wine even easier.

South Africa has won various awards for its wine overseas and the most recent International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC) has seen several gold medals and trophies being awarded for more than 6 categories of wine and fortified wines in South Africa. Here are some of the favorite award-winning South African wines:

  • Meerlust Rubicon 2001 (blended red wine)
  • Nederburg Noble Late Harvest 2005 (botrytis wine)
  • Saxenburg Private Collection Cabernet Sauvignon 2003
  • Uva Mira Vineyards Selection Chardonnay 2004
  • Bellingham The Maverick Chenin Blanc 2004
  • Stormhoek Pinotage 2005
  • Vergelegen Estate Red 2003
  • Lanzerac Classic 2002
  • Zonnebloem Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot Laureat 2004
  • Nederburg Private Bin Edelkeur Noble Late Harvest 2004
  • Ken Forrester Forrester Meinert Chenin Blanc 2003
  • Steenberg Sauvignon Blanc Reserve 2005
  • Spier Private Collection Shiraz 2003
  • Nederburg Private Bin S316 Weisser Riesling 2004
  • Fairview The Beacon Shiraz 2004
  • Jordan Chardonnay 2004
  • Hartenberg The Mackenzie 2003
  • Vergelegen Cabernet Sauvignon 2003
  • Jordan Cobblers Hill 2003

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