South Africa wine
South Africa wine has a long and proud history, dating back hundreds of years to 1659 and the celebrated vineyards of Constantia. Wines produced here were thought to be some of the best in the world but supply was limited due to the huge distances from European markets and limited transport networks available at the time. With the far better transport links now enjoyed, wine making in South Africa has expanded greatly and South African wines are now enjoyed all over the world.
The geography of South Africa wine
Today, most South Africa wines are still produced in the region around Cape Town and the largest vineyards are centred around Worcester, Paarl and Stellenbosch. The country has also introduced a classification system and there are now more than 60 appellations included in the South African 'Wine of Origin' (WO) system. In this system, WO wines have to be made from grapes grown 100% in the stated area. There are also single vineyard wines that have to be made in an area of less than 5 hectares, while estate wines can be grown from a wider area as long as they are made on the estate. A ward, meanwhile, indicates an area of distinct soil and climate and can be thought of as a European appellation.
South Africa wine areas
The three major South Africa wine areas are Constantia, Paarl and Stellenbosch. Constantia includes the area around the original Constantia vineyard and is to be found just south of Cape Town. The wines are grown on the Cape Peninsula and are exposed to considerable ocean influences that cool the air and provide a more gentle growing season. Here, Sauvignon Blanc does particularly well and is grown in large amounts. The second oldest region for South Africa wines is that of Stellenbosch, located to the east of Cape Town. The areas is renowned for its red wines, made from Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Pinotage, while whites are made from Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc.
South Africa wine from Paarl
Paarl produced most of the South Africa wine during the 20th Century and was home to the KWV and various important wine auctions. Over time, however, the influence of Stellenbosch University caused the focus of the South African wine industry to drift south into Stellenbosch. This trend has recently been reversed by the reputation of some terroir wines from Wellington and the Franschhoek Valley.