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Western Cape

One of the Geographical Units in South Africa; see there.

The parliamentary, federal republic at the southern tip of Africa with the three capital cities of Pretoria (government), Cape Town (parliament) and Bloemfontain (judiciary) covers 1,221,037 km². South Africa borders the Indian Ocean to the south and south-east, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe to the north, Mozambique to the north-east and Eswatini (Swaziland until 2018) to the east. The Kingdom of Lesotho is surrounded by South Africa as an enclave.

Südafrika - Landkarte, Flagge, Wappen

South Africa was a Dutch colony from 1652 and a British colony from 1797 (with interruptions) until 1910. After the end of the Second World War, the white minority population expanded the apartheid structures in an authoritarian manner under the political leadership of the National Party. Nelson Mandela (1918-2013) was elected South Africa's first black president in 1994 and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end apartheid.


In 1652, the Dutch doctor and merchant Jan van Riebeeck (1619-1677) founded Cape Town, named after the Cape of Good Hope some 45 kilometres to the south, and three years later planted the first vines brought from Europe at the foot of Table Mountain near the present-day capital. The first vintage was a 1659 with 15 litres of Muscat wine. From the end of the 17th century onwards, it was 200 Huguenots expelled from their French homeland, as the name of the Franschhoek (French Corner) wine-growing region recalls, as well as German and Dutch wine-growers who further developed South African viticulture. Their descendants still play an important role today.

The Dutch governor Simon van der Stel (1639-1712) founded the town of Stellenbosch and planted the famous Constantia vineyard in 1685, from which one of the world's most legendary sweet wines called "Vin de Constance" was produced for the European ruling courts. In the 17th century, large quantities of port and sherry-style wines as well as brandy were exported to England. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the Dutch governors successfully promoted viticulture. In 1885, phylloxera also reached South Africa and caused devastating damage.

Südafrika - Weinberge in Paarl (mit Weingut Nederburg) und Stellenbosch

Viticulture in modern times

Racial segregation was introduced after the founding of the Union of South Africa in 1910 and the black population was excluded from voting. After the Second World War (1939-1945), it was intensified and the term apartheid (from the Afrikaans "apart" = single) was coined. The resulting boycott by many countries meant that South Africa was increasingly cut off from exports. In 1918, the KWV (Kooperatieve Wijnbouwers Vereniging van Zuid Afrika) was founded due to a wine crisis (overproduction, poor quality, bankruptcy of many companies).

This state control body then dominated South African viticulture until the early 1990s. The apartheid policy was abandoned in 1991 and the right to own land was opened up to everyone. As a result, demand from abroad soared and wine became one of the most important export goods. In 2002, the non-profit organisation WIETA was founded to improve working conditions in the wine industry, among other things.

There are almost 4,000 grape producers, around 60 cooperatives (winegrowers' co-operatives), around 500 private wine estates and wineries and over 20 wholesalers. The largest South African wine estate is Nederburg (Paarl), where the first South African botrytis wine called Edelkeur was produced by Günter Brözel (one of South Africa's winegrowing pioneers alongside Tim Hamilton Russel). An important auction is held here every year. KWV International plays an important role as a producer and trading company. Another large company is the Stellenbosch Farmer's Winery (SFW).

A traditional speciality are the sweet dessert wines produced in the style of sherry and port wine. Chenin Blanc and Muscat varieties are used to produce large quantities of simple, carbonated bubblies (sparkling wines), as well as sparkling wines according to the Méthode cap classique. The Pinotage variety created by viticulture pioneer Professor Abraham Isak Perold (1880-1941) produces Cape specialities with deep, dark, full-bodied red wines. From the 1950s, the use of stainless steel tanks made temperature-controlled, chilled fermentation common, especially for white wines.

Climate & soil

The climate is ideal for viticulture. The proximity to the Atlantic Ocean in the west and the Indian Ocean in the east characterises the "wine between two oceans". There is a long, mostly sunny summer and (from May to September) a mild but humid winter. The cold wind from the south-east is called the "Cape Doctor" because it cleans the air. Winegrowers fear it because it can damage the vines. There are two main regions in terms of climate, soil type and wine type.

These are the more temperate, rainy Coastal Region, influenced by the Atlantic Ocean, with mostly dry white and red wines, and the less rainy, hotter areas of Klein Karoo, Olifants RiverOlifants...

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