South Africa is considered a new world wine region, and has been producing wine since 1659. New World wines are wines that are produced outside of the traditional wine-growing regions in Europe and Northern Africa. Another characteristic of new world wines is the fact that they are produced in warmer climates. This means that the grapes of new world wines are riper. South African wines are distinctively new world, but the taste of South African wines falls between that of the new world and classic European style.
In 1659, South Africa started producing wines and in 1685, the Constantia region of South Africa became famous for its wines. The wine of Constantia became very popular among European royalty. At that time, Constantia was considered to be one of the greatest wines in the world. The South African wine reputation suffered greatly from the industrial wines that were produced during apartheid. Apartheid was the system of legalized racial segregation enforced between 1948 and 1994. Under apartheid, South Africa struggled with inferior grape varieties and industrial winemaking. However, the end of apartheid (1994) gave way to a wave of investment in the vineyards of Cape.
South African wines tend to reflect a European influence because the first European vines were planted in South Africa in 1655. South Africa is especially known for its two distinct types of wines: Pinotage and Chenin Blanc. Pinotage is bred from Pinot Noir and Cinsaut and was created in 1925 by Abraham Izak Perold. Pinotage is South Africa’s signature red wine because it is South Africa’s own variety.
Although the South African wine industry suffered greatly form apartheid, in the 1960s, South Africa’s Chenin Blanc was the biggest-selling wine in the world. Chenin Blanc is also known as Steen in South Africa. Chenin Blanc is produced from white wine grapes indigenous to the Loire valley of France, but these grapes are the most widely planted variety in South Africa. These grapes can be used to make anything from sparkling wines to sweet dessert wines.
South African wine tends to have more of a traditional taste that reflects that of the old world (Europe, Northern Africa). Although South Africa is designated as a new world region, South African wines are uniquely positioned between new and old world tastes.
The most famous wine producing region in South Africa is Cape Town. The major production centers in Cape Town are Stellenbosch, Paarl, Constantia and Walker Bay.
Stellenbosch is South Africa’s leading wine producer and is home to the countries best wine estates. Stellenbosch’s granite-based soils are well suited for the production of fine red wines. The Sandstone soils in Stellenbosch’s west are best for producing high quality white wines. Stellenbosch is the heart of South Africa’s wine region and produces several of the finest South African wines.
Constantia is the site of the first vineyards in South Africa and is now in the midst of a revival. Constantia is home to the famous dessert wine of the same name. For many years, this South African wine was considered one of the best in the world.
Paarl is a region that produces South African white wines. Paarl is one of the most famous producers of South African wines because the very best wines in South Africa come from the more elevated regions. Walker bay is a cool-climate wine region and has only a few wine production centers. This region is well known for making very classy styles of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc.
These are the most well know wine producing regions although South African wines are produced in several other regions of the country. South Africa has very fine wines that are also produced in the regions of Worcester, Elgin, Franschoek, Robertson and Swartland.
South African wines have been among the finest in the world for a long time. With the exception of the wines produced during the devastating apartheid, South African wines have been reinvented and reintroduced to compete with the wines of the old world.
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