South African Wine History

On February 2, 1659 the Dutch Commander Jan van Riebeeck wrote, “today, praise be to God, wine was pressed for the first time from Cape Grapes…”

While much of the world has only been exposed to the wines of South Africa since the late 1990’s, they’ve been making wine since the 17th century. This might be why South African wines have been described as sitting between old world and new world. Kevin Zraly in The Wine Companion writes, “they have the structure and restrain of old world and fruit intensity of new world.”

One of their first wines, Constantia, gained great popularity and were sought after by European nobility. It was a sweet wine made primarily of Muscadel grapes. Recently it was resurrected by Klein Constantia and is labeled Vin de Constance. Karen MacNeil in the The Wine Bible describes it as, “a luscious dessert wine” and goes on to say, “it is one of the greatest and spiritual wine experiences to be had.”

Stay tuned for more information on wines from South Africa.

Thanks to the Wines of South Africa website for helping provide this information.