South Africa has had a clear system of naming the places of origin of its wines since 1973, based on the geographical and climatological properties of the wine.
Most of the wine-growing areas are in the south west of the country, between Cape Town and the coast. Wine is also made in the north and east of the country at Olifantsrivier, Orange River, and Klein Karoo.
Wines can originate from a specific local area such as these or from larger regions such as Coastal Region (Swartland, Tulbagh, Paarl, and Stellenbosch). and Breede River Region (Worcester and Robertson) . Excellent examples of this type of wine are the successful Fleur du Cap range and Stellenrijck from the Coastal Region.
In our visit to these wine regions we start in the north, travel via the west to the south and then east.
This is a relatively unknown area alongside the border with Namibia. The wine is acceptable at a reasonable price but little is exported.
This area is slightly south of Orange River, running more or less parallel to the coast. The climate here between Koekenaap and Citrusdal is somewhat drier with less rain and higher temperatures than near Cape Town. Extremely pleasant wine at very acceptable prices originates from here but virtually only for the domestic market.
The area around Piketberg has extremely hot summers making irrigation essential, particularly as there is so little rainfall throughout the year. The wine is first class and quite reasonably priced.
This area is further south, between Piketberg, Darling, Malmesbury, and Tulbagh. The quality of the wines start to improve now. The area used to be renowned for its sweet port-type wines. Nowadays two types of wine are produced here: light, tasty, convivial, and inexpensive modern wines such as Swartland, but also top quality wines from noble grapes such as Alles Verloren.
This is a very small place of origin in the south east of Swartland.
Reasonable to good cooperative wines are made alongside excellent classic wines here depending on the microclimate. We know the area in Europe chiefly from Drostdy-Hof and Twee Jonge Gezellen.