The story of South African Chenin Blanc is nothing if not convoluted.
It is one of the oldest varieties in the country, the conventional wisdom being that it arrived with the Dutch settlers in the 17th century. For a long time it was known as Steen, and it was only in 1963 that it was found to be the same as the Loire’s famous white grape.
During the 20th century it grew to be South Africa’s most widely planted variety and remains so to this day.
Why? For one thing, the KWV, functioning as a sort of super cooperative, gave incentives for decades on the basis of volume, rather than price, and high-bearing Chenin proved itself useful in this regard.