South Africa Wines

South Africa Wines

Today, South Africa has a forward-looking and vibrant wine industry that's making up for lost time, fast! Despite the fact that wine has been made in South Africa since 1659, it's only over the past decade or so that its strengths and potential have been discovered. South Africa's best-known vine and wine is Pinotage, bred by crossing Pinot Noir and Cinsault.

On paper, South Africa has everything to create great wines: a favorable climate, soil and an energetic band of talented winemakers. It's easy to find young winemakers who have traveled and worked in other wine-producing countries throughout the world, gaining valuable experience along the way.

The Cape and surrounding areas are cooled by the Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean and the Benguela current from Antartica. The vineyards are mostly set in regions that enjoy some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. The varied topography creates diverse growing conditions and terroir, with some of the top wines expressing a true sense of place.


The best-known regions include Constantia, Paarl, Stellenbosch, Robertson, Swartland, and Malmesbury, Walker Bay, and Elgin. The cool, coastal setting of Constantia produces some top-quality dry and sweet white wines and Merlot shows great potential. Paarl includes the sub-region of Franschhoek, where Sauvignon and Sémillon perform particularly well. Paarl itself, is home to ripe, full-bodied and well-rounded wines.

Stellenbosch is the source of some of South Africa's finest red wines, from vineyards set in moutain foothills. Like the Napa Valley in California, you will find many good restaurants here too. Robertson, 'The Valley of Vines and Roses', is set inland. A hot area irrigated from the Breede River, stony, lime-rich soils and cool evenings and nights help produce surprisingly good Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. This is very much an up-and-coming region.

Swartland and Malmesbury, with its coastal location, is the source of some superbly balanced red wines. Walker Bay and Elgin meanwhile, is a cool and humid area southeast of Cape Town. Look out for some aromatic Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling from Elgin, and classy Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from Walker Bay.

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