South Africa boasts a well-established wine network; the vast majority and most developed routes are located in Cape Town and the Cape Winelands in the Western Cape Province.
Home to some of the world’s most bountiful vineyards and boasting numerous award-winning restaurants, Cape Town and the Western Cape is a gastronomic wonderland, with a history intrinsically tied to the vine. Dine at world renowned restaurants, challenge your culinary notions and break bread at cutting edge eateries, taste iconic vintages at some of the oldest wine farms on the continent, or simply combine it all with a pairing presented by the world’s best.
Here are a few accolades for Cape Town and the Cape Winelands:
• 18/20 top restaurants located in Cape Town and the Western Cape
• 21 established Wine Routes in the Western Cape
• Oldest wine route in South Africa – Stellenbosch Wine Route
• #8 Lonely Planet selects Cape Winelands as a Top 10 Best Value Destination for 2020
Learn more about Cape Town and the Western Cape by clicking here: Cape Town and the Western Cape
Visitors can look forward to award-winning wines, a variety of events and festivals, a wide range of activities from hiking to mountain biking and whale watching, world-class accommodation, cutting edge restaurants, designer golf courses and stunning scenery are all part of the enticing mix.
The South African Wine Routes Forum (SAWRF) is made up of representatives of the wine routes. This is a joint initiative with representatives from Vinpro, Wosa and Wesgro with the aim of a cohesive wine industry in the Cape.
There are 566 wine cellars, consisting of private wine cellars and producer cellars operating in South Africa of which approximately 450 are members of an official wine route.
Stellenbosch Wine Routes was the first wine route established in South Africa in 1971 and it remains the most developed of the wine routes followed by Franschhoek in the Cape Winelands.
Cape Town and the Cape Winelands consist of 10 wine routes that spread across the regions of the Western Cape Province:
• Constantia Wine Route – has the oldest Wine Estate in South Africa – Groot Constantia
• Durbanville Wine Route
• Breedekloof Wine Valley
• Franschhoek Wine Valley
• Paarl Wine Route
• Robertson Wine Valley
• Stellenbosch Wine Routes – Oldest Wine Routes in South Africa
• Tulbagh Wine Route
• Wellington Wine Route
• Worcester Wine and Olive Route
The wine economy in Cape Town and the Cape Winelands, South Africa
The South African wine industry is supported by various organisations. The Department of Viticulture and Oenology, Stellenbosch University offers pre-graduate as well as post-graduate degrees in Viticulture, Oenology and Wine Biotechnology; Elsenburg Agricultural College offers a course in cellar technology and the ARC-Nietvoorbij is a research facility with various experimental farms. In a joint venture, the South African wine and table grape industries and Stellenbosch University established the Institute for Grape and Wine Sciences (IGWS) to enhance the international competitiveness of the wine and table grape industries.
All wines for export must be granted an export licence. Samples of each batch of wine destined for foreign countries are sent to the Wine & Spirit Board at Nietvoorbij, Stellenbosch where they undergo detailed tasting tests and chemical analysis in the laboratories before licences are granted. An official seal is given to each bottle by the Wine & Spirit Board, which verifies that the claims made on the label regarding origin, vintage and grape variety are true. South Africa leads the world in environmental sustainability and regulated production integrity. From the 2010 vintage, a new Sustainability Seal for South African wines was introduced, which traces the wine from vine to bottle. The seal is a world first, and certifies a wine’s integrity as well as sustainability.
Global wine production in 2017 decreased by 8.2% year-on-year (y-o-y) to 24670 million litres, compared to 26880 million litres produced in 2016. Global wine consumption remained constant at 24100 million litres in 2016.
South Africa's total wine exports increased by 4.7% y-o-y in 2017,bulk wine by 5.6% and packaged wine by 3.4%. Packaged wine exports in 2017 were 4.9% lower than levels recorded in 2013. In 2016, a total of 428.5million litres of the wine produced in South Africa was exported, representing 47.7% of wine production.
The largest destination market for South African wine exports is the United Kingdom, followed by Germany and the Netherlands. In 2017, the volume of packaged wine exported to the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, USA and Russia increased, while it decreased to Sweden, China, Canada, Denmark and Belgium. 40% of South Africa’s vineyards are found in the Breedekloof, Little Karoo, Robertson and Cape South Coast regions. A further 45% lie in the Swartland, Stellenbosch and Paarl regions, all of which are found in the Western Cape.
South Africa is unique in that it can identify precisely when its wine industry began: 02 February 1659. The first Governor of the Cape, Jan van Riebeeck, wrote in his diary: "Today, praise be to God, wine was made for the first time from Cape grapes..."
The timeline chronicles some of the important milestones in the South African wine industry.
1652 – Jan van Riebeeck arrives at the Cape to set up a refreshment station for the Dutch East India Company.
1655 – The first vines are shipped to the Cape, arriving from France, the Rhineland and Spain, and planted in the Company Gardens.
1658 – Jan van Riebeeck plants 1 000 vines on his farm, Boscheuvel, in what is today Bishops Court and Wynberg.
1659 – "Today, praise be to God, wine was made for the first time from Cape grapes..." Jan van Riebeeck's famous diary entry of 02 February.
1678 – The town of Stellenbosch is established by Jan van Riebeeck's successor, Simon van der Stel.
1685 – Some 10 000 vines are planted on Simon van der Stel's farm on the slopes of the Steenbergen – now called the Constantiaberg, in what is today the ward of Constantia.
1688 – Fleeing religious persecution in France, a group of 150 Huguenots arrives, settling in the Drakenstein valley which subsequently becomes known as the Fransche Hoek.
1761 – Constantia wines are exported to Europe and earn great acclaim by 1788 for their sweet and luscious nature. Sales stimulated by shortages due to the Seven Years War (1756–1763).
1822 – 10% of all wines consumed in Britain are South African.
1886 – Phylloxera discovered on vines on the banks of the Liesbeek River in Mowbray for the first time. The disease spreads rapidly, and results in the uprooting and destruction of millions of vines throughout the Cape.
1918 – The Ko-operatiewe Wijnbouwers Vereeniging van Zuid-Afrika Beperkt (KWV) is formed under the leadership of Charles W H Kohler, saving the industry from disaster.
1925 – Professor Abraham Perold successfully crosses Pinot Noir and Hermitage (Cinsaut) to create Pinotage, the first uniquely South African grape variety ever.
1955 – The viticultural and oenological research institute Nietvoorbij is founded on the outskirts of Stellenbosch.
1959 – A semi-sweet white wine called Lieberstein, launched by SFW, revolutionises wine-drinking habits in South Africa and, by 1965, is the single biggest-selling branded wine in the world.
1961 – The first-ever Pinotage (a 1959 vintage from Lanzerac) is commercially released.
1971 – The founding of the Stellenbosch Wine Route, the first of its kind.
1973 – Wine of Origin legislation instituted.
1990 – Nelson Mandela is released, paving the way for increased acceptability of South African wine abroad.
1992 – The KWV quota system is scrapped.
1994 – South Africa becomes a democracy. Wine exports are less than 50-million litres but start to take off.
1997 – KWV is registered as a private company.
2004 – The groundbreaking Biodiversity & Wine Initiative (BWI) is initiated to incorporate biodiversity best practices into the local wine industry.
2008 – South African wine exports reach a record 407-million litres.
2009 – The anniversary of 350 years of winemaking is celebrated.
2010 – South Africa introduces the world’s first sustainability seal as a guarantee of eco-friendly production.
2012 – An ethical seal that only producers who pass the WIETA audit criteria annually are entitled to use is introduced. Exports reach 417 million litres, 10 million litres more than the previous record of 407 million litres achieved in 2008.
2013 – Another record year for South African wine exports, which break the 500 million mark for the first time, reaching 525.3 million litres for the year.
2015 – South Africa achieves a significant 50% increase in gold medals at the International Wine & Spirit Competition.
2016 – South Africa earned higher prices for its wines in several key markets. While the year-on-year rand per litre price for bottled wines increased by 13% in the UK for the 12 months to August, it rose by 19% for the same period in Germany and Canada, and by 32% in the Netherlands.
2017 – Total exports of wine increased by 4.7% to 448.5 million litres in 2017.
2018 – The 4% increase in value to R9.06 billion reflects the positive sentiments towards South African wine in international markets, despite the 6% decrease in volume to 420.2 million litres of wine sold internationally. The timeline chronicles some of the important milestones in the South African wine industry.