South Africa

South African wine mapSouth African wine has a history dating back to 1659 with Constantia, a vineyard near Cape Town, being considered one of the greatest wines in the world. Access to international markets has unleashed a burst of new energy and new investment. Production is concentrated around Cape Town, with major vineyard and production centers at Paarl, Stellenbosch and Worcester. There are about 60 appellations within the Wine of Origin (WO) system, which was implemented in 1973 with a hierarchy of designated production regions, districts and wards. WO wines must be made 100% from grapes from the designated area. “Single vineyard” wines must come from a defined area of less than 5 hectares. In keeping with the spirit of renewal in the South African wine industry, in recent years over 40% of the vineyards were replanted as the industry has realigned its product to compete globally, moving from volume production to noble cultivars and quality wines. South African vineyards were once dominated by white grape varieties but the predominantly red new plantings shifted that. In the last four years, winegrowers have started planting more whites than reds, a reversal of the 10-year trend to planting more reds. Noble varieties which have been cultivated increasingly in the past few years include Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, which produce top-class white wines, and Shiraz and Pinot Noir. Although most of the vine varieties cultivated here today were originally imported, up to now six local crossings have been released. The best known of these is a red variety, Pinotage, a cross between Pinot Noir and Hermitage (Cinsaut), which more recently is being cultivated locally on a fairly large scale.

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