Facts and figures about the South African wine industry

South Africa is considered a new world wine country, but the winemaking tradition dates back over 350 years to 2nd February 1659, when the first grapes were pressed and South Africa's wine story began.

Facts about the South African wine industry

  • Today South Africa exports around 450 million litres of wine
  • There are over 100,000 hectares of vineyard in South Africa
  • South Africa is committed to sustainable wine farming
  • South Africa is the 9th largest producer of wine in the world
  • Chenin Blanc is the most widely planted variety in South Africa

Find more facts, figures and statistics on South African wine.

The climate for wine in South Africa

Despite its African geography, the Cape winelands, situated at the Southernmost tip of Africa, enjoy a Mediterranean climate with cool, wet winters and warm dry summers.

The mountain slopes and valleys form the ideal habitat for the wine grape, Vitis Vinifera, and the sea breezes from the Atlantic and Indian oceans cool the vineyards during the warm summer afternoons, slowing the ripening process and creating the intense fruit flavours that are so popular with lovers of South African wines.

Wine growing areas in South Africa

In 1972 the Wine of Origin Scheme was introduced in South Africa to recognise and protect the distinct qualities of wine from certain areas, grape varieties and vintages.

In this, the regions, districts and wards of the South African wine industry were defined.

Find out more about the winegrowing areas in South Africa.

Wine grape varieties in South Africa

Chenin is still king in South Africa, although around 40% of vineyards were replanted in recent years and there is a notable shift from 80 percent white grapes to a split that is nearly 50/50 red and white.

The top five grape varieties in South Africa are Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Colombard, Shiraz and Sauvignon Blanc.

Learn more about South Africa's grape varieties.

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From Jamie Goode

Jamie Goode

I was back in South Africa again. It was winter, but it didn’t feel like it as I arrived in Franschhoek on a gorgeously sunny day, with a sky that seemed bluer than it ever gets in summer. There’s a quality to winter light that’s quite special. Everything seems laser sharp and vivid.   One of the advantages of travelling to South Africa from the UK is the lack of any jet lag. Yes, an 11 hour flight is an 11 hour flight, and it’s a long time to be on a plane. But as long as you get more than just an hour or two of sleep, you can land and hit the road running, without conking out mid-evening as so often happens with jet lag.

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In Jo's glass

I was recently in South Africa for Cape Wine and managed to taste several vintages of the delicious Vin de Constance from Klein Constantia. I usually opt for a sweet wine at the end of a meal instead of a pudding and The Vin de Constance is a perfect way to end a meal. It's rich and opulent with stone fruits, vanilla and a hint of spice yet it is also fresh, balanced and has a long, moreish finish. Master of Wine, Tim Atkin, highly rated both the 2011 and 2012 in his most recent report on South Africa which is available to download for £15 on timatkin.com.  

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