A Short Guide to the Wine Regions of South Africa
South Africa is one of the most widely recognised and established new world wine regions, and the UK is the country’s biggest export market. Explaining all of the wine regions of South Africa would take an essay, considering there are at least 24 recognised Wine of Origin production areas, so we have chosen our favourite ones here.
Leafy Constantia is where South African wine making began, thanks to Simon van der Stel (first Governor of the Cape Colony) who was granted 763 hectares of land and subsequently planted vines. His original farm was Groot Constantia, which is the oldest wine producing estate in the area. Other famed wine estates include the optimistically named Buitenverwachting (translates to ‘beyond expectations’), Steenberg, High Constantia, Constantia Uitsig and Klein Constantia – which produces its famed Vin de Constance, it is said to have been a favourite of Napoleon, and was also mentioned by Charles Dickens and Jane Austen.
A much warmer environment for making wine, the Swartland area can be found 50km north of Cape Town and is largely a farming community. The wine from this region has a reputation for being quite bold in flavour, so Sauvignon Blancs aren’t as widely grown here – instead you’ll find grape varieties such as Chenin Blanc, Shiraz, and red and white blends. Organic wine farming is becoming more and more popular, particularly in this region with Org du Rac producing some of the finest organic Merlot, as well as its signature olive oil. The bigger and more established outposts, Swartland Winery and Riebeek Cellars, are always worth a visit, with some of the widest ranges of wine in the area.
The towns of Hermanus and Stanford, within the Walker Bay region, produce some of the finest wines in the country. Its one of the more unusual wine routes, surrounded by jagged mountains and choppy seas, however it goes back 40 years to when the Hamilton Russel family established their vineyard. Famed for its Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes, you will also find some very fine Sauvigon Blancs, Southern Right’s is one of the best. Some other favourites include Bouchard Finlayson, Newton Johnson, Hermanuspietersfontein and Creation – many of these wine estates also have award-winning restaurants on site.
With at least 50 wine farms for you to see, Franschhoek is a must-visit destination for wine lovers and foodies – some of the country’s top restaurants are in this small town. The wine estates here are particularly famed for having incredibly beautiful grounds, as well as stunning natural scenery. Some, such as Delaire Graff and Boschendal have rooms as well, providing the option of staying for a couple of nights and really delving into this region. Some of our favourites include La Motte, which also has an extensive art collection and an award winning restaurant, Moreson which specialises in unusual Chardonnays, Haute Cabriere and many more. We would recommend hiring a local guide who can take note of your particular interests and tailor a winelands tour to make the most of your experience.
Intrigued by the varieties of wine that can be found in South Africa, why not come and explore the regions for yourself? Our experts can arrange tours of all the wine regions mentioned above and the many others on offer in South Africa. Book your holiday today with Africa Travel by calling us on 020 7843 3500.