Do you know most of South Africa’s top wine producers lie on the Cape South Western Coast within 145 km of Cape Town?
This fusion of folded mountains and crisp ocean air has emerged as a high-quality producer of both white and red wines.
Four decades earlier South Africa had about 200 local wine regions but today it has increased many folds. But today due to its increasing existence, there are so many underrated wine regions that SAWiS (South African Wine Industry Information & Systems NPC) has located with official production areas and divided them into geographical, areas, regions, districts, wards and routes.
Today, I am going to talk about the top 3 underrated wine yards, as these wine regions are as worthy of exploration, due to their unexpected and delightful discovery of wine.
1. Orange River Region
This is the most isolated wine-producing area of South Africa. This Orange River’s vines spread over 350 km along the banks of the Orange, or Senqu River, which is the most famous river of South Africa. With over 23.5 million vines (10% of the country’s vineyards) is a stretch in a spine of green along the river through the wine-growing areas of Keimoes, Kakamas, Upington, Groblershoop and Grootdrink.
This wine region of the Kalahari is widely dominated by Orange River Cellars, for whom 890 farmers grow grapes across five vineyards with an average of 23.4 tons per hectare.
It is grown since the early 1900s. The Orange River wines are most popular for the dessert wines.
2. Kwazulu Natal
KZN is not very accustomed to wine. As Kwazulu Natal is not an official wine ‘region’, but a ‘geographical area’ rather. It still could make into this list as it is small, and the least known wine-producing areas in the country.
The province started experimenting with wine production in the early 1990s with the first serious planting in the early 2000s. After the lapse of thirty years, KZN today boasts one of the highest altitude certified single vineyard estate wines in the country by Abingdon Wine Estate, whilst Highgate Wine Estate produced the very first certified Chardonnay of the province. Both Abingdon and Highgate are located in the Lion’s River area of the KZN Midlands.
With a different grape growing conditions from the Cape, the KZN wine producers usually go it all alone. They are all inspired by the Cape growers and viticulturists, experimented and made mistakes, they mostly have had to make a plan and do it themselves.
This is the third large scale wine holding, Cathedral Peak Wine Estate has 27 hectares of Pinotage, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon under vine just outside Winterton on the way to Cathedral Peak. Yet another spearhead is iLembe Co-operative Vineyards and Winery, near Ballito, which was the first government-backed winery in the country.
3. Klein Karoo Region
This the easternmost wine-producing region in the Cape. This wine estates of the Klein Karoo spreads along the world’s longest wine route – Route 62, from Montagu in the west to the Langkloof in the east. The center of the region is a flat semi-arid basin surrounded by some of the most popular mountain ranges in the Cape – the Groot Swartberg and the Langeberg-Outeniqua Mountains.
This region has rich soils and microclimates that have produced fortified wines for years, but more recently the region has become famous for dry table wines. It is equally popular for beer, brandy, and port thus earning a name as the most diverse of the wine regions.
The popular and widely loved dessert wine, Muscadel, is also produced here. Also, the Klein Karoo is a lifestyle destination with some of the most amazing scenery, unique fynbos, thicket, and the succulent Karoo biomes that attract thousands of visitors, and a peaceful and friendly atmosphere making the drive so enjoyable.
South Africa is a popular destination for many tourists but if you happen to visit this country, do not forget to visit these underrated wine regions. It will not only add serenity to your vacation but will also add enjoyment and thrill to your journey.