South Africa is in the Southern Hemisphere within the latitudes that are most favoured for cultivating vines and making wine. The South African climate can be likened to that of the Mediterranean.
The best wine-growing areas are at the foot of the mountains and in the valleys. The grapes have no shortage of sunshine here. The temperature in winter drops to no lower than 0- 10°C (32- 500 P). Cooling sea breezes bring the necessary moisture to the vineyards. Most rain falls between May to August.
The geology underfoot varies from granite in the foothills of the mountains to sandstone at Table Mountain, soft slate at Malmesbury, and slate and loess along the rivers. There are great differences from one vineyard to another. This makes the estate wines from the smaller domains additionally interesting. The production of wine is mainly in the hands of cooperative wineries (85% of the total) of which the most important is the KWV.
South Africa is at present the eighth largest wine-producing country with 3 % of the world production compared with France at 22%, Italy with 20 %, and Spain with almost 14%.
All wine that is exported is provided with a quality seal. Samples are taken of these wines and the wine must meet organoleptic standards, or put in other words must fulfil certain
The first cultivated vines were probably planted by the Greeks around Marseille, although it was the Romans who, over the course of 500 years, introduced the wine making tradition throughout the country. Experimentation with vines and wine making techniques took place hundreds of years ago, and people now generally accept which area produce the best grapes, what varieties are most suited to them, how they should be trained and so on.
Today, France can boast more great wines than any other nation, and the grape varieties used to produce then have been exported around the globe setting the standards for others. Apart from the prestige region of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Rhone and the Loire, there are scores of other regions where the quality of wine has improved almost beyond recognition in the past two decades, and which have not been hit by the rocketing prices which have put many top-name wines out of the reach of most consumers.