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shows two bottles of South African wine from the Spier wine farm

South African Wine: An Amazing Must Do Virtual Experience

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Shows a map of South African wine regions
South African Wine Regions

Photos in this post are from Manfred’s virtual tour and are used to complement the information gathered from his narrative.

Since we couldn’t travel to South Africa to visit their wine regions we decided to bring those regions to us. We visited with Manfred virtually through Zoom and learned about the history and wineries of South Africa. When we took the tour it was winter in South Africa and Manfred explained that parts of it were unseasonably cold. Winter is the perfect time to warm up by making mulled wine. Of course, here in South Florida it was summer so we sipped our South African wine chilled.

All photos in this post were taken from Manfred’s virtual tour. Click here to join the tour for yourself. We highly recommend it. Manfred was knowledgeable and personable as a host.

For more information about visiting Capetown in person click on this sponsored link for Get Your Guide recommendations.

Our Host

Manfred was born and raised in France. Manny worked in the French wine regions for many years. Then he moved to South Africa and has dual citizenship. He now lives in Capetown and now due to Covid-19 gives virtual tours of South African Wine Regions.

Wine Accessories

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History of South African Wine

In 1659 this region made its first wine. However, by the late 19th century disease had wiped out wine production in most countries except Australia. Eventually the United States shipped some of these original vines back to other wine producing countries, and wine production began again. Differences in wines are often as a result of different climate and soil although they often originate from the same types of grapes.

In 1990, when Nelson Mandela was released South Africa was permitted to export its wines. Currently, due to Covid-19, the country has put a ban on all alcohol sales and therefore has not exported any for the past several months.

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Constantia

First we visited the region of Constantia. Constantia is a day trip from Capetown and is a mountain region. Wine tasting is a top activity with friends and family on weekends. You will often see families with children picnicing at the wineries. There are numerous wineries in this area, but we focused on two of them.

Groot Constantia Wine Estate

This is the oldest winery in South Africa. It produces varietals such as Chenin Blanc and Savignon Blanc. These are produced from the Muscot grapes minus the noble rot that is usually accompanied by these grapes. Instead these grapes dry out and become raisins before being turned into wine. These grapes have a natural acidity due to the proximity to the sea. Vin de Constance is one of these wines that uses French Oak during the aging process. This wine matures for 3 years. Jane Austen recommended this wine as a cure for a broken heart.

Cape Point Vineyards

Cape Point Vineyard specializes in Savingon blanc and white blends. Female wine makers own this vineyard. Don’t forget to take the long way around back to Capetown so you can see ostriches and penguins along the way.

Franschhoek

This translates to French Quarter. The inhabitants here speak Afrikantz but are French at heart. They celebrate Bastille Day and of course like good wine. They have made wine here since the late 17th century. Franschhoek is the tourist capital for wine.

One main roads winds throughout the regions wineries. Take a long weekend to tour them. But come with plenty of money. This area is expensive. Top chefs from around the world come to work in the restaurants here. Ultimately, you can take a tram on a wine farm tour so you don’t drink and drive.

Known for its sparkling wines, Franschhoek follows the strict guidelines of French Champagne producers. The wine takes a minimum of 12 months to produce whereas most countries are not as strict with their sparkling wine production. The winery brings the grapes in from the cooler regions due to Franschhoek having more of a Mediterranean climate. You can take the MCC route to hop from one producer to the next over the course of a few days.

Swartland: Hippy Culture South African Wine Region

shows a photo listing some South African wine farms in the Swartland region

Swartland gets its name from local black plants which give the impression that the land is black. Off the beaten path, this wine region does not have public buildings or fancy tasting rooms. Manny says you need to contact wine farm owners directly for an appointment. Upon arrival the owners will invite you into their family home for a tasting. Tastings are small and family oriented.

In the past, wine from this region was mass produced, but in 2010 a wine revolution took place. In a blind tasting critics rated wines from this region highly. The vines here grow naturally without trellissing. Wine farmers don’t use sulfites. Therefore fewer and smaller grapes are produced concentrating their flavor. This region definitely lends itself to a hippy culture.

Stellenbosch: Family Friendly South African Wine Region

This region produced the wines we purchased for this virtual tasting. This is a cooler region, home to Stellenbosch University, the only university for wine making. This region is located 25 minutes away from Capetown and houses the largest amount of wineries. Most of the wine farms are kids friendly with family picnic areas.

The Golden Triangle, a region within Stellenbosch is known for its full bodied red wines. The elevation here varies from 60 meters to 400 meters. The diversity of the soil such as granite, shale, sandstone, and clay makes possible a wide variety of wines. Highlights include Merlots, shiraz, malbec, and some chenin blanc.

Waterford Estate boasts three trail hikes and a wine safari. Our virtual hosts recommended the 2015 Waterford Estate The Jem. Future grooms often come here to propose over a bottle of this wine.

Tulbagh

Shows a map of the South African wine town Tulbagh

Tulbagh is about a 90 minute drive from Capetown near the mountain. In this small rural village everyone knows each other. You will find a mixture of old estates along with new vineyards, modern wine cellars, and small micro-producers. At Montpellier you can taste wines, witness the beauty of this historic Dutch homestead, go horseback riding, or camp on the grounds. The farmhouse also hosts a B&B. Or you can experience Rijk’s Private Cellar and taste the famous Pinotage, a varietal combining the best qualities of pinot noir and hermitage grapes. If you stay at the Wittedrift Manor the owner, Irishman PJ Daly will give you a tour of the area in a Tuk Tuk. He and his wife vacationed here in 2002 and never left!

Elgin

Shows a map with the South African wine region of Elgin Valley

Traditionally known for growing apples, Elgin now makes a name for itself because of its wines. Located 40 miles southeast of Capetown, Elgin grows grape varieties which prefer the cooler climate. Wine farms in this region produce Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay. For more information on wineries and places to stay in Elgin visit Trip Advisor.

Wine Making

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