The Wines of South Africa

South Africa is a relative newcomer to the world of large scale wine production – most wine shops only began to see wines from South Africa after their conversion to multiracial democracy. Almost all wineries are located in the southwestern corner of South Africa, near Cape Town. The more well known include Swartland to its north, Paarl to its northwest, and Stellenbosch to its immediate east.

Unlike many countries where wine regions are scattered and separated by wide areas of land, in South Africa they literally touch each other, forming a jigsaw of appellations immediately surrounding the city. The exceptions are the Orange River Valley and Douglas, further to the north.

South Africa mainly produces:

  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Chardonnay
  • Chenin Blanc (Steen)
  • Pinotage

While the first three wines are well known around the world, Pinotage is more regional. Pinotage is powerful red, a cross of Pinot Noir and Cinsault. Most South African wines aren’t labelled by region, but rather by grape variety and style. The grape itself, and the reputation of the winery that made the wine, are the two things to watch for … region is of lesser value.

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