Wines of South Africa

In 1652, the Dutch East India Company established a refreshment station in Cape Town to provide fresh food to the company’s merchant fleet for their voyages to India and other destinations. It soon led to a flourishing wine industry, and eventually, the birth of a nation.

Jan van Riebeeck, the first governor of the Cape, planted a vineyard in 1655, and made the first wine from those grapes on February 2, 1659. Van Riebeeck was succeeded 20 years later by Simon van der Stel, who planted a vineyard on his farm, Constantia, which has been considered one of the world’s greatest wines.

Since the end of apartheid nearly 20 years ago, South African wine has experienced a renaissance. With a mostly Mediterranean climate influenced by both the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, South Africa’s most well-known wine regions include Constantia, Stellenbosch, Paarl, Franschhoek Valley and Breede River Valley. A number of mountain chains and valleys have created dozens of unique soils and wine styles. Here are some of our favorites:

2008 A.A. Badenhorst White Blend South African

From the winemaker: The aromas are very complex and change considerably in the glass. Perfume, spice, stone fruit and citrus blossoms are some of the notes that can be detected. In the mouth, the texture, ripeness and gentle tannins result in a wine that has incredible length and flavor profile, with wonderful fruit volume characterized by stone fruit and mineral flavors. The finish is long and has slight phenolic edges supporting the fruit through the entire length of the wine.

2010 Graham Beck Pinotage

From the winemaker: The grapes for this 100% Pinotage were handpicked at optimum ripeness and then fermented in open and closed fermenters with regular punch downs and pump-overs to ensure upfront fruit and soft extraction. The wine spent around 10 months in 3rd and 4th fill barrels with a portion of the blend left unoaked. Aromas of ripe cherry, strawberries and plums follow through to ripe red berry fruit and spices on the palate. A full-structured and well-balanced wine with a juicy but elegant mouthfeel and silky soft tannins.

2011 Mulderbosch Sauvignon Blanc Stellenbosch

From the winemaker: A bright lemon-green color with a pronounced nose of citrus, lemon zest, green fig and black current leaves, all held together by an intriguing floral note. A vivid palate with an engaging concentration of clementine peel, granadilla pulp, Cape Gooseberry and melon. Herbal undertones with a complex, chalky minerality compliment the mouthwatering finish.

2011 Boekenhoutskloof The Wolftrap Syrah Mourvedre Viognier South Africa

From the winemaker: Sourced from Malmesbury in the Swartland, the Syrah provides the spice and weight, while the Mourvèdre adds structure and aroma to the blend. The pungent Viognier component boosts the perfume profile. This wine has an intense red color with a purple rim, and a spicy profile with ripe black fruit and violets. Smooth and rich on the palate with soft tannins, good density and a hint of oak, this well-balanced, unpretentious wine is made for easy drinking.