Although more famous for its robust rich reds from homegrown Pinotage or Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon and ripe whites from Chenin Blanc, South Africa’s, Cape Town vineyards are increasingly demonstrating their ability to produce elegant, cool-climate wines to rival those from more typical cool-climate regions around the globe.
Its Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are placing themselves firmly onto the world’s cool-climate wine map.
Cape vineyards benefit from their proximity to the sea with cooling breezes from the Atlantic Ocean, the influence of the cold Antarctic Benguela Current and early morning mists. The towering mountains also provide shade and altitude, cooling down the temperatures and increasing the diurnal range of temperatures, ensuring that grapes maintain the acidity vital to produce fresh, elegant wines with finesse.
Cape vineyards benefit from their proximity to the sea with cooling breezes from the Atlantic Ocean, the influence of the cold Antarctic Benguela Current and early morning mists.
Charming coastal town Hermanus in the alluringly named Hemel-en-Aarde (Heaven and Earth) Valley is a popular destination for visitors to South Africa thanks to its fame for frequent sightings of southern right whales in Walker Bay. Its flourishing wine industry also adds to the charm of the town, with budding winemakers flocking to the area to take advantage of its maritime cool-climate benefits. The area is held in high regard for its Burgundian-styled Pinot Noir and Chardonnay as well as its fresh, flinty Sauvignon Blanc. Many of the key wineries here are beginning to challenge the dominant reputation of its Stellenbosch counterparts. It’s also attracting attention thanks to the outstanding and consistent quality of its Pinotage.
Another small ward benefitting from its proximity to the sea and the Bot River Lagoon is Bot River, gateway to the Walker Bay district. Its mostly small, independently owned vineyards, some of which date back several centuries, are producing high-quality Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc from some of the oldest vines in the region. Its vast rolling hills, big sky, quaint, rustic charm and real country hospitality make its eclectic range of handcrafted, both traditional and modern, state-of-the-art, wineries the ideal place to while away some time, tasting wines made from old bush vines as well as from innovative varietals from new plantings. The wineries take biodiversity pretty seriously too, as they nestle alongside the UNESCO-listed Kogelsberg Biosphere, boasting unique fauna and flora. Its fynbos scrubland is said to impart herbaceous, garrigue-like notes to the wines grown here. This is one place where you are sure to want to further explore the vineyard.
Cradled in a basin among the Hottontots Holland Mountains, separating it from Stellenbosch, Elgin enjoys not only lower temperatures and refreshing early-morning mists from the Atlantic, but also the benefit of altitude and the shade from its towering mountains. Prevailing southerly winds caress its undulating hills, making it a great place to meander off the beaten track. Traditionally famed for its apples, and still responsible for around 60% of South Africa’s apple exports, the region is gaining a name for cool-climate winemaking. These Cape vineyards are mostly planted with aromatic varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, but winemakers are also experimenting with Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot, often transformed into Bordeaux Blends with great finesse. Its later-ripening, cool terroir is also lending itself to the production of some excellent Riesling. Just an hour away from Cape Town, it’s the perfect place to taste wines bursting with pure bright fruit, poise and complexity.
Our local experts at Wine Paths will help you discover the cooler side of Cape Town vineyards, while taking in the breath-taking coastal and mountainous scenery.
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