South Africa is one of the most prominent wine countries from the so-called New World, although the viticulture has been established quite early in 1652 from the Dutch doctor Jan van Riebeeck who has brought the first vines from Europe. The country is the 8th biggest wine producer and boasts one of the best value for money wines.
Most of the plantings are distributed alongside the Western Cape among valleys, mountains and plateaus, which gives opportunities for a wide range of diverse wine styles. The South Africa's climate is ideal for viticulture with the proximity of the Atlantic Ocean in the west and the Indian Ocean in the east defines the “wine between two oceans”. The long sunny summer and the mild but humid winter are suitable for the most grape varieties. The cold wind from the south-east purifies the air and does not allow developing of diseases which can damage the vines.
The country has five main wine-growing regions - Cape South Coast, Coastal Region, Klein Karoo, Olifants River and Breede River Valley which are distributed into 22 districts and 64 wards (smaller wine area with special microclimate) - implemented mirroring the French system of Appelation d’origine controlee with the resulting system becoming an hybridisation of Old World wine making and the new - and the leading of them are Stellenbosch, Paarl, Constantia, Cape Point, Walker Bay and Elgin. The categorization system is quite simple with the introduction of the controlled designation of origin "Wine of Origin" (WO) which state least 85% of the vintage and grape variety and origin must be included in the bottle if this is stated on the label. A "single vineyard" wine must come from a defined area whilst an "Estate Wine" can come from adjacent vineyards if they are cultivated together and the wine is made on site. Lastly, a “ward” is an area with a distinctive soil type or climate.
Almost all grape varieties have been brought in the country from Europe with one of the few exceptions being the local signature red grape Pinotage, created by the crossing of Pinot Noir and Cinsaut, the other significant red grape varieties are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah. White grape varieties account for more than half the country's total production with Chenin Blanc the most planted grape followed by Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Other white grape varieties are Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains, Cinsault, Pinot Noir, Sémillon and Colombard.
There are two historic regions of South Africa the Constantia and Stellenbosch, the first is the cradle of wine for the country gave to the world the legendary dessert wine Vin de Constance and the other region with significant importance producing great Bordeaux blended wines and Pinotage. South Africa has many specialities among which are sherry and port wine, sweet dessert wines, Chenin Blanc blended with aromatic grape varieties becoming simple, carbonated in large quantities Sparkling wine, and also sparkling wines made according to the champagne method called Method Cap Classique generated. Overall, South Africa is one of the largest producers of wine in the world and offers some of the most interesting wines in the world.