South African wine industry began through the arrival of the French Huguenots to South Africa in the 17th century. The French Huguenots fled to South Africa due to the VOCpersecution of Christians at the time in Europe. At the same time, the Dutch East-Indian Company (VOC) annexed Table Bay as a half-way stop to the East as part of their trade in spices. Settlers were welcomed as that would establish a halfway post to the VOC.
The settlers were allocated farms in the Western Cape at the time of their arrival and most of them being wine farmers, they started with wine farming. The Western Cape, being the only winter rainfall area in South Africa, provided excellent opportunities for wine farming. Our ancestor, Jacques Pinard himself started with a wine farm in the Tulbach area.
Since then, the South African wine industry has gained word-wide recognition for making excellent wines. We have several regions, some more hot than others which provide for a great variety of wines. The most known and probably most preferred region is the Stellenbosch region. The Durbanville region also produces excellent wines due to a colder sea breeze from the West Coast, cooling the vineyards during night time.
Groot Constantia is arguably one of the oldest wine farms in South Africa and is knownGroot Constantia for its excellent wines across the world. Apparently, Napolean Bonaparte only drunk Groot Constantia wines. To honour this part of history, you can buy a replica of Napoleon's favourite, a dessert wine packed in an old wooden box; in true historical labelling and wax sealed tradition.
South African wines, contrary to French wines which are more region, are more cultivar based; i.e. we make Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinotage, Shyrah (Shiraz) etc. Lately blending a Rhone or Bordeaux style wine is also becoming more popular.
The Pinotage cultivar originated from South Africa. It was created as a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsaut and has a earthy yet fruity flavour. Lately, winemakers have Pinotagebeen creating Pinotage wines with a coffee flavour through ageing in different casks. The "story of Pinotage" can be read here.
My interest in wine was therefore aroused by the history of South Africa and our descendants as well as having been exposed to different kinds of wines over the years. I were part of a wine tasting group where we tasted different kinds of wines, different cultivars, origins and years and cellared some wines for tasting later. We also did a "wine tour", visiting all the different wine farms and I was intrigued by the different styles and influences of the wine maker in producing for example, a Cabernet Sauvignon.
Another interesting experience is to do wine and food pairing. Although you can drink any wine with any food (the purist will not agree with me, but I believe you drink what you enjoy), some wines do pair and compliment some food better than others.
Do try one of our wines - I'm sure you will enjoy the complexity and boldness, yet subtle tannin and beautiful aromas of many of our wines.