Whether it is the tourist region around Cape Town, with its diverse fauna and impressive geology, or the prospect of the country being host to the FIFA World Cup – South Africa is set to garner more and more attention from international visitors over the next two years. Yet, when one thinks of famed wine regions that are ripe for some grape-fuelled exploration, it seems that SA is unlikely to be discussed before the regions of California or South West France. So, as more and more the world’s eyes become focused on this diverse country, and airlines compete to offer cheap flights to Cape Town, let’s have a look at the region in more detail.
Constantia & Stellenbosch
If you have just arrived in Cape Town, the closest wine areas of note are the Constantia and Stellenbosch districts. The former is actually considered a ‘ward’ and is located on the Cape Peninsula that juts southward from the city itself. Constantia is famed for its Sauvignon Blanc, which is well suited to the cool ocean-blown land. Stellenbosch has been well-established since the late 1600s and lies just east of Cape Town. Again benefiting from oceanic influences and a temperate climate, the area is more well-known for its red production – ranging from Shiraz to Merlot.
Breede River Valley
The inland Breede River Valley boasts a comparably warmer climate and is somewhat sheltered by the Drackenstein Mountains. The area is divided into many subregions, such as the well-irrigated Robertson, and the notable Bonnievale district which produces its renowned Chardonnay. Worcester is the biggest wine producer in the country set against the backdrop of the Du Toitskloof Mountains and upon a large fertile plain. Almost half of the South African Semillon comes from this region.
To the cooler south again and the Overberg district is an area where wine production has developed fairly recently – and where visitors can still benefit from access to the south coast. The large area that stretches from the Hottentots-Hollands Mountains in the west to the Breede River is also known for growing grain and fruit, but is also known for its Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc. The vineyards at Elgin are located 70 kilometres from Cape Town.
To the north of Cape Town, the West Coast wine region includes for notable areas, Durbanville with its visitor orientated ‘Wine Route’, the agricultural area of Piketberg, the uniquely tasting Swartland wine region, and Olifants River. The area is famed fro its premium wine and sought after wine such as that which is produced in Swartland, and the Chenin Blanc from Olifants. The Vredendal co-operative in the area is the biggest winery in the country. The Durbanville Wine Route is just 20 minutes from Cape Town.