South African wine
regions and grapes

Food tips you can trust


Top 3
areas for
South African wines

South Africa has over 50 distinct wine areas (officially and somewhat confusingly classified as regions, districts, wards, and geographical units). The top three are near Cape Town on Africa's southern tip. Look for Stellenbosch, Constantia, and Paarl on the wine label.


This is the nation’s finest wine area. It has been called the Napa Valley of South Africa. It vints outstanding white, but excels most in red wines. Stellenbosch is also the country's most scenic wine area and has some fine restaurants. These features make a Stellenbosch wine route trip even more compelling.


South Africa’s first vines were planted here. Groot Constantia, the country’s most historical and famous winery, resides here (see photo). Constantia was once noted for its dessert wine that Napoleon relished. Today, Constantia also produces dry red and white South African wines.


It ranks third on the list. Whereas Stellenbosch is largely made up of small-wineries, Paarl mainly has a big-winery infrastructure. It produces whites and Sherry-like fortified wines, but it's best known for its robust red Shiraz wines.

South African
wine grapes


This hybrid grape is a South African creation, dating back almost a century. It's a Pinot Noir crossed with a Cinsault (called "Hermitage" locally). It is now enthusiastically planted in Australia, the USA, and other countries.

Other widely grown reds

In order of use: Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, and Merlot.

Widely planted whites

Chenin Blanc (called "Steen" locally) is the workhorse grape of the South African wine industry. It's blended into a variety of wines, sometimes gloriously, sometimes mundanely. Ditto for the Sauvignon Blanc. The Colombard is also broadly planted, but is normally vinted for ordinary wines.

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