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South Africa

The Dutch doctor and merchant Jan van Riebeeck (1619-1677) founded Cape Town in 1652 and planted the first vines brought from Europe at the foot of Table Mountain near the present legislative capital in 1655. The first documented vintage was a 1659 with 15 litres of Muscat wine. From the end of the 17th century onwards, it was 200 Huguenots - the name of today's Franschhoek (French corner) reminds us of them - as well as German and Dutch winegrowers who drove the South African viticulture forward. Their descendants still play an important role today. The Dutch governor Simon van der Stel (1639-1712), who was appointed in 1679, founded the town of Stellenbosch and in 1685 laid out the famous Constantia vineyard, from which one of the world's legendary sweet wines called "Vin de Constance" was produced for the European royal courts. In the 17th century, large quantities of port and sherry style wines and brandy were exported to England. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the Dutch governors successfully promoted viticulture. In 1885 the phylloxera also reached South Africa and caused devastating damage.

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