South Africa is the oldest of the New World wine producing countries, with a history dating back to the 1600’s, and is one of the most prominent wine-producing countries in the Southern Hemisphere. With more than 300 years of winemaking history, it is often described as bridging the gap between the Old World and New. Although the majority of South African wines are made using New World winemaking techniques they do infact have more in common stylistically with their Old World counterparts.
South Africa’s wine regions can be found around the lush, rugged landscape of the Western Cape, where the abundance of mountains, valleys and plateaus allow winemakers to produce a wonderful diverse range of styles. Most of South Africa's wine-producing regions have a Mediterranean climate, which is significantly influenced by the meeting of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Wine production is concentrated around Cape Town, with major vineyard and production centres at Paarl, Stellenbosch and Worcester. The country's signature variety is Pinotage, with Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot also widely planted. Chenin Blanc is the most-planted grape, although South African Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc have become extremely popular internationally in recent years. In 1972 the Wine of Origin Scheme was introduced in South Africa to recognise and protect the distinct qualities of wine from certain areas, grape varieties and vintages. In this, the regions, districts and wards of the South African wine industry were defined.