South Africa has undergone drastic political, social, and ethnological changes in the past ten to twenty years. Present day South Africa, in which the development ofthe economy is problematical could be given a big impulse by its wine industry. Ten years ago the wine was boycotted throughout most of the world but now South African wine seems set to conquer Europe, having made good starts in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands because ofthe historical links of both these countries with South Africa.
Proud wine-growers will tell you that South Africa is the oldest of the 'New World' wine countries. The reality is that vines were not introduced into South Africa until 1655 while the first vines were planted in
Mexico and Japan in 1530 and in Argentina and Peru around 1560. South Africa certainly started cultivating vines before California (1697) and New Zealand (1813).
South African Wine
We have come closer now to Cape Town - about 50 km (31 miles) away. This is the home of the KWV and is undoubtedly the most famous of the South African wine region (in part because of the annual Nederburg wine auctions and tasting sessions).
The best known African wines from this region are the Sauvignon Blanc, Steen (Chenin Blanc), and Chardonnay whites, and Pinotage and Cabernet Sauvignon reds.
The descendants of French Huguenots have turned their region into a place of pilgrimage. There is a Huguenot monument at Franschhoek (which translates literally as 'French corner') but also superb wines. In addition to the other well-known varieties, the French Huguenots had a preference for Semillon.