( about South African wine )

The Cape winegrowing areas, situated in the narrow viticultural zone of the southern hemisphere, mainly have a Mediterranean climate and the mountain slopes and valleys form the ideal habitat for the wine grape Vitis vinifera, the products of which have given pleasure to man for many centuries. Long, sun-drenched summers and mild, wet winters contribute to the ideal conditions for viticulture at the Cape.

Liberated by the advent of democracy, the South African wine industry has gone from strength to strength, with exports having more than doubled between 2005 and 2015. Currently, more than 3 232 farmers cultivate some 98 597 hectares of land under vines. Some 300 000 people are employed both directly and indirectly in the wine industry. The annual harvest in 2013 amounted to 1 498 240 tons (1 156.5 million litres), of which 79% was used for wine. The annual harvest in 2014 amounted to 1 519 708 tons (1 181.1 million litres), of which 81% was used for wine.

The South African wine industry is backed by a state body, the Nietvoorbij Institute for Viticulture and Oenology, a leader in research with one of the most modern experimental wineries in the world and several experimental farms; the departments of viniculture and viticulture at the University of Stellenbosch; and the Elsenburg Agricultural College, which offers cellar technology. In a joint venture, the South African wine and table grape industries and Stellenbosch University established an Institute of Viticulture and Oenology (IVO) to enhance the international competitiveness of these sectors.

All wines for export must be granted an export licence. Samples of each batch of wine destined for foreign countries are sent to the Wine & Spirit Board at Nietvoorbij, Stellenbosch where they undergo detailed tasting tests and chemical analysis in the laboratories before licences are granted. An official seal is given to each bottle by the Wine & Spirit Board, which verifies that the claims made on the label regarding origin, vintage and grape variety are true. South Africa leads the world in environmental sustainability and regulated production integrity. From the 2010 vintage, a new seal for South African wines was introduced, which traces the wine from vine to bottle. The seal is a world first, and certifies a wine’s integrity as well as sustainability.

As far as international wine production is concerned, Italy leads with 17.7% of the total, France is second with 17.2%, Spain third with 13.3% and South Africa eighth with 4.1% (2015 figures).

Click HERE to view Wine of South Africa’s map of South Africa’s wine regions.

( the Wine of Origin scheme )

The establishment of a victual station at the Cape midway through the 17th century led to the planting of the first vineyard in 1655 and the making of wine from grapes grown at the Cape on 2 February 1659. As in Europe, certain areas and farms became known for wines with their own distinct character. The wines of Constantia, for instance, became famous – and even today are considered among the finest ever produced.
For a long time, this uniqueness of the South African-wine producing areas and farms was not legally protected. An official Wine of Origin scheme was only established in 1972, when legislation in this regard was formulated. This new scheme would not only protect wines of origin but also wines made from a specific cultivar or vintage.

Certain basic principles were taken into consideration when the system was formulated. It was, for example, necessary to comply with EU regulations because a great deal of South African wine was exported to Europe. Principles such as honesty in business, factual terms, titles, adaptability, local marketing truths and free participation were addressed.

South Africa’s Wine of Origin certification scheme was officially instituted in 1973, in accordance with the Wine, Other Fermented Beverages and Spirits Act of 1957.

( the Official Seal of the Wine and Spirit Board )

This seal appears on each bottle of wine or estate brandy which has been certified by the Wine and Spirit Board.

The seal guarantees the trustworthiness of all information relating to origin, cultivar and vintage as stated on the label. The identification numbers on the seal are an indication of the strict control by the Wine and Spirit Board, from the pressing of the grapes to the certifying of the final product.

All of the information on this page has generously been provided by Wines of South Africa (WOSA), a fully inclusive body representing all South African producers of wine who export their products. WOSA, which was established in its current form in 1999, has over 500 producers on its database, comprising all the major South African wine exporters. It is constituted as a not-for-profit company (sec21) and is totally independent of any producer or wholesaling company. It is also independent of any government department, although it is recognised by government as an Export Council.

To find out more, please visit wosa.co.za.

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