Walker Bay (Bot River)



The South African wine history dates back from 1655 when Jan Van Riebeek, Commander of the Dutch East India Company that settled 3 years earlier to establish refreshment station along the Spice Route between the East and Europe, planted the first vines in the Company’s garden. It is four years later, on the 2nd of February 1659 that the first grapes from the first three vines were harvested; it is thought that they were Muscat de Frontignan.
Simon Van der Stel, governor of the Cape at the end of the 1600’s, acquired and founded the estate of Groot Constantia. He was the first at the Cape to encourage the planting of vineyards and imposed regulations in order to improve winemaking techniques. The Dutch didn’t really have any experience with winemaking and the arrival of the French Huguenots at the same time, who fled France from religious persecution, also brought their knowledge and experience. The Constantia wines became famous at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century when they were highly praised by the European aristocracy. The most famous amateur of Vin de Constance was Napoleon, it is said that he drank a bottle of Vin de Constance every day as he was in exile in the Island of St Helena (Off the West Coast of Southern Africa). He would also have asked for a last glass of his favorite wine on his death bed. Vin de Constance is a sweet wine made from Muscat de Frontignan.
During the 20th century, the South African wine industry went into a phase of decline. The KWV cooperative had the monopole over 95% of the winegrowers and the production was aimed at the local consumption and the production of brandy. It is with the emergence of the new democracy from 1992 that the regulations imposed by the KWV were abandoned and that old estates were able to develop and new ones founded. South Africa is the 9th world ranking producer with 494 private cellars, 65 cooperatives and 17 producing wholesalers in 2007. With over 100 200 ha under vines the face of South African vineyards has drastically changed since 1996 where 80% of vineyards were planted with white varieties, in 2006 the white varieties covered 55% of vineyards while reds covered 45%. Chenin Blanc is the most planted grape; it was used in the past mainly for brandy or Stein, a semi sweet style of Chenin. Shiraz is now the most planted red followed by Cabernet Sauvignon.
The quality of South African wines has improved tremendously over the past 15 years and is now regarded as one of the world’s best producing countries.

The South African wine growing area is located at the tip of the continent in the Western Cape region. The climate is Mediterranean with long dry summers and damp winters that last from May to September. It has a great maritime influence with the Indian Ocean to the East, the Atlantic to the West and the Cape of Good Hope is said to be the meeting point. The Oceans make their presence felt, often more than 100km inland, when thick clouds created by the cool South Easter wind (also called the Cape Doctor), build up almost daily, keeping the temperature down to reasonable limits, providing for relatively cool nights and adequately long ripening periods.

The Cape winelands are divided into officially demarcated regions, districts and wards. There are four main regions - Breede River Valley, Coastal, Little Karoo and Olifants River, encompassing 18 diverse districts and some 53 smaller wards, our selection of producers provide a wide variety of terroirs and are a true reflection of fine wines produced in South Africa .

South African wine regions