The first vineyards were planted by the Dutch settlers in the Cape area in the middle of the XVIIth century, in order to supply wine to the sailors stopping over at Cape town, as wine was considered a remedy against scurvy. Then the Continental blockade instituted by Napoleon against the British Isles made the exports prosper, before phylloxera and then the political isolation of the country ruined its production. Since 1960, there is a revival of the industry which ranks now n°9 in the world, using low temperature fermentation to deal with the hot climate in the region.
Surface : 131 000 ha Production : 10 Mhl Consumption : 3,6 Mhl
- soils : very diverse, from sandstone around the Cape, to shales in the Karoo or sand and gravel in the beds of river valleys along which vineyards flourish on stony hillsides.
- climate : Mediterranean type, hot and at times very dry, requiring irrigation
- a wide range of varieties of which the main reds are: cinsault, pinot noir, pinotage (a cross between cinsault and pinot noir created in 1926), cabernet-sauvignon, syrah, merlot, cabernet franc, and the main whites : chenin blanc (steen), chardonnay, hennepoot (muscate of Alexandria), colombard and sauvignon.
- The coastal area with, i.a. the districts of Constantia, Paarl, Stellenbosch and Swartland
- The Breede river valley area, with i.a. the districts of Worcester and Robertson