Wines by Country
South Africa is one of the most prominent wine-producing countries in the Southern Hemisphere. With more than 300 years of winemaking history, it is often described as bridging the gap between the Old World and New. The majority of wines are made using New World winemaking techniques but often have more in common stylistically with their Old World counterparts. Since the end of apartheid South African wine has enjoyed international attention and acclaim for its wide variety of styles.
South Africa’s wine industry is distributed around the lush, rugged landscape of the Western Cape. Here, the abundance of mountains, valleys and plateaus allow winemakers to produce a diverse range of styles. Vineyards are also found in the Northern Cape’s Orange River region, where the flat, barren landscape is dominated by the Kalahari Desert. Most of South Africa’s wine-producing regions have a Mediterranean climate, significantly influenced by the meeting of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.
The country’s signature variety is Pinotage, an indigenous crossing of Pinot Noir and Cinsault that is rarely found in quantity in any other wine-producing country. Shiraz is widely planted also, as are Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot (often found together in a Bordeaux Blend).
White grape varieties account for 55 percent of the country’s 96,000 hectares (237,000 acres) of vineyards. Chenin Blanc is the republic’s most planted grape with 18.5 percent of all plantings. South African Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc have become popular internationally in recent years. In fact The Wine of Origin system, a legal structure introduced in 1972 to acknowledge and protect the diversity of terroir in the country, classifies South Africa into the regions, districts and wards where vineyards are found.