4 Fascinating Facts About South Africa’s Wine You Probably Didn’t Know

As of 2016, South Africa was ranked 7th in the world’s highest producing countries with 10.5 million hectoliters (mhl) of wine production translating to 3.9% of wine in the world. South African wine dates back to 1659 where the first bottle was produced in Cape Town by Jan van Riebeeck.

Most of the wine production is concentrated around Cape Town. Some of the famous wine varieties are Cabernet Sauvignon 11.7% with Shiraz coming a close second at 10%, Pinotage 7.2% and lastly Merlot 6.2%.

  1. South Africa had the most sought-after wines a while back

There is nothing sweeter than taking your dessert with a glass of wine. Back then, in the 18th century, South Africa’s dessert wines were classified as the most famous globally.  Just as the French Sauternes, the Constantia wines were as popular.

The popularity came to a halt when the phylloxera epidemic hit South Africa which caused the vineyards to take more than two decades to recover. The recovery process saw the replanting of 80 million vines. This has led South Africa to become one of the largest wine producing countries globally.

In 2017, two of wines were among the top in the Muscats du Monde de Frontignan. They are the Orange River Cellars Red Muscadel 2016 (fortified) and Groot Constantia Grand Constance 2014.

  1. Pineau de la Loire- Chenin Blanc

The white Chenin Blanc is the most planted type of grape in South Africa accounting for 18.6% of all vineyard plantings. Even as the most popular Pinotage red wine is the country’s flagship, the Chenin Blanc is widely planted.  This particular grape can be used to make anything from dessert wines to sparkling wines.

The grape was among the first to be grown by Jan van Riebeeck though sources say it may also have come into the country with Huguenots who were fleeing France after Edict of Nantes was revoked in 1655.

  1. Wine regions

One of South Africa’s to-do list for tourists should be visiting the wine regions.


Stellenbosch is the second oldest towns in South Africa and is fondly known as ‘Eikestad’ or the city of oaks.  The city is only about a 30-minute drive from the Cape Town International Airport.

In the case that you want to know about winemaking in South Africa, this is the place to be.  It is among the most famous wine-making region in the country.

Sitting 40km away from East Cape Town, a dramatic mountain range including Helderberg, Stellenbosch, and Simonsberg surround the region which allows good rainfall. Cabernet Sauvignon is planted widely in the area with other varieties such as the Chardonnay and Bordeaux also among the planted grapes.

Stellenbosch has over 31,000 acres of vines.

What makes this region great for growing quality grapes is the sandstone and granite soils which provide the grapes with good acidity.

People looking to get into the wine industry need to understand what variety works in their region and what their consumers prefer. Starting a wine company requires funds which could leave your credit score rating low in the case you borrow a loan and don’t repay. Consider credit repair dealers and find out more on how to avoid loans affecting your credit score.

There is the Stellenbosch Wine Route which was launched in 1971. For those interested in learning about the local wines before touring the wine routes, the Cape Wine Academy is a great place.


Heard of the Constantia dessert wine? This is where it originated roughly in the 17th century.  The suburb is just 15km south of Cape Town. The estate was established by the second Governor of Cape of Good Hope, Simon van der Stel. Considering its historic wine production, it is one of the major tourist hubs in the country.

It was later subdivided into Groot Constantia, Bergvliet and Klein Constantia in 1778.

The area has over ten wine farms with eight of them being in an official wine route.  It is also home to the renowned Floral Kingdom.

The Sauvignon Blanc is mostly produced there due to the area’s cool climate.

  1. Wine of Origin

The Wine of Origin dates back to 1973 which is a set of laws that govern how South African wines are labeled.  The wine regions are categorized into four: regions, districts, wards, and geographical units. Symbolized as W.O., the mark is an indicator of where all the grapes used in the winemaking process originate from.

For example, the wine label could be reading W.O. Stellenbosch. This means the grapes are 100% from Stellenbosch.  W.O. has been a standardized way of identifying South African wines.


There you have it, four fascinating facts about South Africa’s wine. So, the next time you are in the region, consider wine tasting and feel the richness of it. They say wine, good food, and friends is everything you need!


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