South African Wine
The South African wine industry has grown in leaps and bounds since the dawn of democracy in 1994. Many producers have won prestigious international awards for their creations, and South Africa is fast gaining acclaim as a wine producer to watch. Like the culture itself, dubbed the Rainbow Nation for the diversity, wines from South Africa range from crisp, clear whites to robust reds, and everything in between. We have even developed our very own grape varietal, Pinotage, a hybrid of Pinot Noir and Hermitage, which is slowly gaining popularity and acclaim worldwide.
While there have been successes from many estates around the country, for example, the new producers in the KwaZulu Natal region, the heart of South African wine making remains in the Western Cape. This area is criss crossed with wine routes, stretching from the oceanfront to the Cape Fold mountains and beyond.
Originally brought to the country by early French settlers, South Africa’s wine industry has grown around these diverse climatic conditions, the various cultural influences, and the experimental nature of the wine makers. Options when visiting one of the many wine routes are vast, both in terms of the region chosen, and the purpose of the visit. Simply put, whether the visitor is a serious wine connoisseur, a leisure seeker, or looking for some family fun, there will be an activity to suit your tastes.
Within the greater Cape Town area itself, lies the Grande dame of wine farms – Groot Constantia which one can visit, to enjoy wine tasting, lunch or shopping, without ever leaving the city. The Durbanville Wine Route, the closest to the Mother City, at about 20 minutes from Cape Town itself offers wine tasting tours, many excellent restaurants, and family oriented farm experiences. For those wishing to venture further afield, Stellenbosch and Drakenstein offer a wide variety of estates, both new and historical, including the world famous Boschendal, where it is possible to arrange a pre packed gourmet picnic, and enjoy it under the trees, on their lush green lawns.
Other attractions available at Boschendal estate, like many others, include a restaurant, local arts, crafts and curios, a historical tour of the original manor house, built in the eighteenth century, and of course, the wine tasting experience.
Further still, you will reach the picturesque village of Franschhoek, where those early French settlers first decided to set up home. Also the site of many famous wine producing estates, the town has in fact combined the love of viticulture with another ancient craft – cheese producing, and annually host the Bien Donne cheese and wine festival. With wine making such a big industry in the country, there are many excellent wine routes to visit: Paarl, Wellington, Worcester and Rawsonville being just a few.
Any visitor would be well advised, given the sheer number of wine routes, estates and activities on offer, not to mention the actual wines, to research and plan their experience before hand, either via the internet, or through one of the tourist bureaus in any of the wine producing areas.