PAARL is another of the Cape’s historic towns where wine has been made for centuries. Home to the original KWV head office and its impressive Cathedral Cellar, as well as the country’s best-known brand Nederburg, many cellars, small and large, from boutique to co-operative, produce wine from the ordinary to the sensational. Winemakers have been concentrating on shiraz, but some fine chenin blanc, pinotage, cabernet sauvignon, blends, and even unusual varieties such as viognier and mourvèdre are turned into prize-winning wines. Glen Carlou, Villiera and the value-for-money co-operative Boland Kelders are among the top performers here.
OLIFANTS RIVER is a fast-growing region stretching a few hundred kilometres up the west coast from the Cape. Plenty of exported easy-drinking wines come from here. The Vredendal Winery is one of the largest in the world, employing some of the most modern techniques.
ORANGE RIVER is one of Africa’s great rivers and along its Northern Cape bank lie large white-wine producing vineyards. Winemaking is sophisticated and reds are getting more attention with an eye to exports.
FRANSCHHOEK: lies in a contained valley, a pretty town founded by the French Huguenots in 1688. Today it is very much a boutique region with old buildings, restaurants and small producers. Stylish cellars include La Motte, Cabrière, Plaisir de Merle and Boekenhoutskloof.
KLEIN KAROO: is a semi-desert region inland that has inspired some winemakers to take up the challenge. Fortified wines such as muscadels and Portuguese “port” styles do well in places such as Calitzdorp.
CONSTANTIA: It is the historic hub of Cape wine. Closest to Cape Town, it boasts some of the most famous estate names such as Groot and Klein Constantia, and Buitenverwachting. On premium terroir and in ideal climatic conditions, superb sauvignon blanc and semillon wines are produced
DURBANVILLE: and its hills northeast of Cape Town have a winemaking history dating back 280 years. Some star performers are emerging, including brilliant sauvignon blancs with strong contemporary focus on shiraz and merlot. Durbanville Hills is a large, modern facility and Nitida a small boutique set-up.