Simonsberg and Stellenbosch from the air. Credit: wilpunt / Getty Images
Most South African wine is produced in the Western Cape region, a Mediterranean climate heavily influenced by its proximity to the Atlantic and Indian oceans.
Key South African wine regions:
Stellenbosch, South Africa’s second-oldest settlement after Cape Town, is perhaps the most recognisable of the many winegrowing areas within the Western Cape. It is home to names such as Kanonkop, Meerlust and Thelema, and excels at producing Bordeaux-style blends as well as South Africa’s signature variety – Pinotage.
Constantia is located on the peninsula to the south of Cape Town, almost completely surrounded by the two oceans. It is best known for producing Klein-Constantia’s Vin de Constance, a world-class sweet wine, but the area also suits varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling thanks to the cooling sea breezes which help to retain acidity in the grapes.
Paarl is located further inland, and has a warmer climate as a consequence. Paarl Rock dominates the area, one of the biggest granite outcrops in the world. The area is well-suited to robust wines made from varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Chardonnay.
Swartland is a hot and dry area, although it benefits to some degree from the Atlantic Ocean’s cooling effect on its western border. Producers such as Mullineux, The Sadie Family and AA Badenhorst specialise in producing high quality Shiraz, Chenin Blanc and Rhône-inspired blends.
The cool climate of Walker Bay is particularly suited to Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, with which estates such as Hamilton Russell, Ataraxia and Crystallum are making world-class wines.