South African Wines
Wine was first produced in South Africa back in the 17 century by Dutch and French settlers. Today the country is enjoying a viticultural renaissance with over a thousand producers and ranks as the world's eight largest winemaking country.
Key South African Wine Regions
South African winemaking is concentrated around the Western Cape where the long, warm summers are moderated by the Benguela Current from Antarctica which creates cooling ocean breezes. The most famous regions producing the best South African wines are Stellenbosch, Swartland, and Franschhoek which are all well-known for their robust reds. Cool climate Walker Bay and Elgin are better suited to whites and lighter reds. Another notable region is Constantia which is the historic home of Vin de Constance, one of the world's greatest sweet wines in the 18th and 19th centuries, giving us the best sweet South African wine.
South African Grape Varieties
South Africa's signature grape is Pinotage, a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault which produces powerful and spicy reds. Other popular varieties include Bordeaux staples like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot as well as Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. Chenin Blanc is especially prominent for whites, with over twice as much planted in South Africa as in its native France.