South Africa Wines: Where Biodiversity is King

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Cape Town:  the Mother City,  a member of the prestigious Great Wine Capitals of the World network alongside Bilbao in Spain, Bordeaux in France, Christchurch in New Zealand, Florence in Italy, Mainz in Germany, Mendoza in Argentina, Porto in Portugal, San Francisco in the US and Valparaiso in Chile.   Regularly voted one of the world’s top tourist destinations, thanks to its spectacular location between mountain and sea as well as its world-class restaurants, accommodation options and transport infrastructure, Cape Town is in easy striking distance of 20 official wine routes. But all are relatively close to one another, making it easy to dip in and out, plotting a trip according to your own interests, whether these include history, nature, golf, spa treatments, adventure activities, shopping or simply relaxing in an idyllic setting.

Natural conditions have made the Cape one of the most biodiverse places on earth, home to over 9,600 indigenous plant species- more than in the entire northern hemisphere. The same conditions can in turn support a large spectrum of grape varieties, from cool-climate Pinot Noir to big, ripe, blockbuster Shiraz; from Chenin Blanc (South Africa’s most widely planted grape, accounting for over 18% of plantings and myriad wine styles) to Pinotage, the grape famously – some might say infamously – created at the University of Stellenbosch in 1926 when Pinot Noir was crossed with Cinsaut.

Our writer travels through the Cape to visit the different terroirs, taste the native wines, and learn the rich history of each unique route.