Wines from Western Cape

Home to Two Famous Wine Regions

Western Cape of South Africa is one of the Geographical Units within the country’s Wine of Origin classification.

Learning about this wine region is important because it is home to the clear majority of wines of South Africa. And yes, as the title suggests, it is also home to the two most famous wine regions of South Africa: Stellenbosch and Paarl.

Relative to the province of the Western Cape, this wine region is found to be carrying most of the vineyards of South Africa.

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Now, let’s see in detail about this South African wine region here…

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Remember to read the Wine Tasting guide…

History of Winemaking in Western Cape

The history of winemaking in Western Cape started with the arrival of European settlers to the region during the 17th century.

They planted the first vineyards of the region. Evidence suggests that the second governor of the Western Cape, Simon Van der Stel was largely applauded for having introduced the winemaking to the region during the 1600s.

He also established a wine estate in Constantia. It’s to be noted that world-famous wine region Stellenbosch was named after him.

Despite all these, the growth of the wine industry in the Western Cape can be accredited to the Huguenots, Protestants who arrived at the Western Cape during the late 17th century.

Geography and Topography of Western Cape

Western Cape as a wine region is stretching from Cape Town to the start of the Olifants River for about 310 kilometres to the north.

In the eastern side, the region is stretching till Mossel Bay for about 360 kilometres. In a topographical point of view, the Western Cape is filled with scenic mountain ranges that are forming the Fold belt.

I would say this organization is highly important for vine cultivation across the region as they are contributing for soils, as well as mesoclimates that are perfect to produce high-quality wines.

Particularly, the Boland Mountains that are forming the eastern border are important.

As such, most of the areas of Western Cape under vine cultivation are found to be over 160 kilometres from the coast.

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Climate and Soils of Western Cape

When it comes to the climate of Western Cape, the surrounding oceans are found to be playing a big role.

The area that is lying between the Cape Point and the Cape Agulhas is the place where the Antarctic Benguela currents meet the warm Agulhas currents.

These currents are cooling the prevailing winds that blow from south to east (collectively known as Cape Doctor). This phenomenon is known to bring refreshments to the vineyards of Western Cape.

On the other hand, the westerly winds that are known to affect the far northern regions of the Cape are cooled down by the Benguela currents.

When we look at the soils of the Western Cape, we can understand the prominent soil types of the region are granite, shale, and mountain sandstone.

In addition, we can also find some alluvial and loamy soils along the river beds.

Western Cape as a Geographical Unit

As a Geographical Unit, the Western Cape is found to be covering almost all the wine lands of South Africa including:

  • Breede River Valley
  • Coastal Region
  • Klein Karoo
  • Olifants River
  • Bot River
  • Cape Agulhas
  • Overberg
  • Plettenberg Bay
  • Walker Bay
  • Cederberg
  • Ceres
  • Herbertsdale
  • Prince Albert Valley
  • Ruiterbosch
  • Swartberg

Wines and Wine Grapes of Western Cape

When it comes to wine varietals, the region is found to be highly prolific. The region is producing rich, robust reds, as well as fresh, flinty whites.

Traditionally, the region was known for the elegant Bordeaux blends. But, nowadays, the winemakers have started experimenting with more international varietals.

The most common grape varieties used are:

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Author

Tharani Rajamanickam

Tharani Rajamanickam

Winewriter

I am Tharani, I have Bachelors degree in Biotechnology. I am passionate about the wine industry and continue to explore, learn and share and I bring in a wealth of knowledge and expertise to help you keep updated with best wines in the world. Stay tuned..

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Vineyards in Western Cape, South Africa

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