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The Cape winelands stretch from the rugged mountains and multi-directional slopes of the coastal region to the open plains of the Little Karoo where viticulture takes place mainly in the riverine valleys. South Africa's vineyards are mostly situated in the Western Cape near the coast. Rainfall on the coastal side, where fynbos and renosterveld vegetation flourish, measures up to 1 000mm per year. Travel over the mountains into the hinterland and the rainfall decreases dramatically with the vegetation dominated by hardy succulents, cycads and aloes.

Currently around 101 016 hectares of vines producing wine grapes are under cultivation over an area some 800 km in length. Under the auspices of the Wine of Origin Scheme, production zones in the Cape winelands are divided into officially demarcated regions, districts and wards. There are six main regions in the geographical unit of the Western Cape – Breede River Valley, Cape South Coast, Coastal Region, Klein Karoo, Olifants River and Boberg (for use in respect of fortified wines from Paarl, Franschhoek and Tulbagh), which encompass 24 diverse districts and some 67 smaller wards. Another four geographical units exist: KwaZulu-Natal; Northern Cape (which includes the production areas Hartswater, Douglas, Central Orange River and Rietrivier FS); Eastern Cape and Limpopo.

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