The red grape variety (also Perold's Hermitage x Pinot) is a new breed between Cinsaut x Pinot Noir. The name is composed of parts of the names of the parent varieties Pinot Noir and Hermitage (Hermitage is a historical synonym for Cinsaut in South Africa). The cross was made in 1924 by Professor Abraham Isak Perold (1880-1941) at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa. The long neglected vines were then saved from oblivion by a certain Charlie Niehaus and passed on to the Charles Theron Vine School. Here they were successfully grafted onto virus-free rootstocks in 1935. However, it was not until 1941 that wine was made from them for the first time. It was not until 1961 that the name Pinotage was used by the Stellenbosch Farmer's Winery, which then became widely accepted.
The early to medium ripening, high-yielding vine is moderately susceptible to both types of mildew, botrytis and viral diseases. It produces purple, fruity red wines rich in extracts with soft tannins and aromas of red fruits and plums. It is cultivated on 6,240 hectares in South Africa. Here it is often used as the basis for the Cape Blends. In 1995 the Kanonkop Estate founded the "Pinotage Association" with an annual competition. There are further stands in Australia, Brazil (75 ha), Israel, Canada, New Zealand (74 ha) and Zimbabwe, as well as in the US states of California (21 ha), Oregon and Washington. In 2010, the variety occupied a total of 6,404 hectares of vineyards, with a slight downward trend. This puts it in 97th place in the worldwide grape variety ranking (Kym Anderson statistics).
Pictures: Ursula Brühl, Doris Schneider, Julius Kühn Institute (JKI)