South Africa Wine Guide


Since the end of the Apartheid system, South Africa's wine industry rise from its ashes to become a new major wine producer.

The majority of South Africa's vineyards is in the Cape Province, in the south-west of the country. The vineyards begins near the coast and spreads inland with the growth of the sector. Mountains, hills and flatlands of this extraordinary countryside give a great variety of wines.

The climate is Mediterranean, meaning that the oceanic influences curb the drought and the heat. It is an optimal climate to grow vines.

History of Wine In South Africa

The first vines were cultivated in the seventeenth century by the Dutch settlers but the wine industry took off thanks to the French Huguenots. The old wineries settled in the wine-growing regions of Stellenbosch and Constantia. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the Vin de Constance was famous and popular in Europa.

But in the twentieth century the South Africa's wine sector is in decline. First, the propagation of phylloxera destroyed the vineyards in Constantia. And the KWV (The Co-Operative Wine Growers Association) put important restrictions on price and yield that the sector could not carry on its expansion. The international embargo against the Apartheid government put the nails in the coffin for the South African wine sector.

But with the end of the Apartheid, the new President Mandela began to take actions to restore the country vineyards, with the privatization of the KWV. Foreigners’ investments flood the market to open a high number of private wineries. Today, South Africa is the ninth most important wine-producing country. The quality of the wines is here to stay, thanks to the researches of Stellenbosch University’s Department of Oenology.

Wine Regions in South Africa

The wine-growing regions are divided into four classifications by the Wine of Origins legislation. The geographical unit is the administrative region, like Western Cape. After, the region is the group of Coastal Region, Olifants River, Klein Karoo and Breede River Valley. Inside the region, it has the districts like Stellenbosch, Paarl Valley or Swartland. There are times where there is little areas, called wards, like Walker Bay and Constantia.

During a long time, the white varieties were more present in the vineyards but nowadays the producers grow a lot of red varieties.

Major Grape varieties of South Africa

Cabernet Sauvignon is the most common red grape to make Bordeaux Blend with Merlot. Syrah produce full-bodied and powerful red wines, with flavors of black fruits. There are better quality Syrah wine, more balanced and spicy.

South Africa had given birth to the Pinotage, a hybrid of Pinot Noir and Cinsaut. The red wines are full-bodied, with aromas of spices and wild berries and interesting wild notes. Blend with international varieties, the wine is labelled «Cape Blend».

The Chenin Blanc or Steen is the most common white grape in South Africa. It produces a great variety of wines.

The Colombard is used in the production of brandy. Cultivated in cool vineyard, the Chardonnay produce exceptional wines with powerful characters.

Wines of Sauvignon Blanc are lights, crisps and cool with herbal flavors. There are more structured and complexed wines, with dried fruits aromas and notes of vegetal. The Muscat of Alexandria called in the country Hanepoot is used in the blend of fortified wines like the lovely Vin de Constance.  

Our wines from South Africa