Winelands

Winelands

The South African Wineland region lies just east of the City of Cape Town and is set around the beautiful mountains creating some stunning vistas. The region is steeped in culture and history with some excellent examples of typical Dutch architecture dating back to the 17th century.

History
The South Africanwine industry has come a long way since the first unsuccessful attempt to grow grapes in 1652. The Dutch, being the first settlers of the Cape did not initially succeed in producing drinkable wine. However, the merchant traders noticed that the ship’s crew, who drank the locally produced wine, became less susceptible to dreaded disease like scurvy. For this reason, the local settlers decided to supplement their supplies of fresh fruit and vegetables with barrels of this noble liquid.

Just two decades after wine was first produced in the Cape, a new governor arrived on the scene – Simon van der Stel. The new governor continued to develop the winelands even further from Cape Town. In 1679 he established the foundation for what was to become the charming town of Stellenbosch – now one of the centres of the South Africa wine industry. His own estate of Constantia was granted to him not long afterwards, and although greatly reduced in size, it is still today one of the most beautiful wine estates in the Cape.

Constantia became famous. Kings and princes of Europe clamoured for the sublime “Vin de Constance” – and the wine was even praised in the Austen and Dickens novels.
Towards the end of the 17th century when the freedom of religion was abolished in France, thousands of Huguenots who were divined Protestants fled to Holland where some found their way aboard ships bound for the little Cape settlement. They brought with them a sound knowledge of viniculture and were allocated land in the Cape Winelands – areas now known as Franschhoek, Paarl and Drakenstein, where they contributed to the improvement of the South African wine industry.
The drink has long since passed the stage of being merely a remedy for scurvy, and today the South Africa wine industry and Cape wines are in demand around the world.

Cultivars
Noble varieties which have been cultivated increasingly in the past few years include Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, which produce top-class white wines, and Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Pinot Noir. A significant proportion of our red wine vineyards are currently very young – 52% are under 10 years old.
Some of our oldest grape varieties (also called cultivars) date back to ancient times and were developed from wild vines. The original wild vine belongs to the genus Vitis and it is generally accepted that it was cultivated for the first time in Asia Minor, south of the Caspian and Black seas.

The vine is a remarkable plant which lends itself to selection, propagation and grafting factors which make possible a continuous improvement in both plant and quality. 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 hybrid of Pinot Noir and Hermitage (Cinsaut), which is cultivated locally on a fairly large scale.
The Worcester Region has the most vineyard plantings (19% of all vines), followed by Paarl and Stellenbosch (17%), Robertson (14%), Malmesbury (12 %), Olifants River (9%), Orange River (9%) and Little Karoo (3%). The Worcester Region also produces the most wine (24%), followed by Olifants River (17%), Robertson (14%), Paarl and Orange River (12%), Stellenbosch and Malmesbury (9%), and Little Karoo (3%).

Today…
Liberated by the advent of democracy, the South African wine industry has gone from strength to strength, with exports growing by 219% between 1998 and 2010. Currently, more than 3 596 farmers cultivate some 101 016 hectares of land under vines. Some 275 600 people are employed both directly and indirectly in the wine industry.

We invite you to South African Winelands, the land of extraordinary beauty, charm and hospitality. This invitation is to visit the Cape’s finest winelands, where spring carpets the rolling hills in blossom, autumn’s rust pervades the champagne air with a promise of winters bite. If you are a lover of history and beauty, a wine expert or an enthusiastic adventurer, you will find this tour extremely interesting.

    >> SP02 – Wine, Cheeses, Oysters and Champagne