South African wine has a history dating back to 1659. At one time Constantia, a vineyard near Cape Town was considered one of the greatest wines in the world. Access to international markets has unleashed a burst of new energy and new investment. Production is concentrated around Cape Town, with major vineyard and production centres at Paarl, Stellenbosch and Worcester. There are about 60 appellations within the Wine of Origin (WO) system, which was implemented in 1973 with a hierarchy of designated production regions, districts and wards. WO wines must be made 100% from grapes from the designated area. "Single vineyard" wines must come from a defined area of less than 5 hectares. An "Estate Wine" can come from adjacent farms, as long as they are farmed together and wine is produced on site. A ward is an area with a distinctive soil type and/or climate, and is roughly equivalent to a European appellation.
On 2 February 1659 the founder of Cape Town, Jan van Riebeeck, produced the first wine recorded in South Africa.
On 8 January 1918, growers in the Western Cape founded the Koöperatieve Wijnbouwers Vereniging van Zuid-Afrika Bpkt (KWV). KWV came to dominate the industry until the end of apartheid. In the 1930s they set up the South African Wine Farmers Association (SAWFA) as a 50:50 joint venture with their British agents, Vine Products, taking full control after the Second World War. Restrictions on the sale of "whites man's liquor" to black South Africans were lifted in the 1960s. Restrictions were never placed on Coloured South African labourers for fear of collapsing the wine farm labour force. Production quotas were abolished in the 1990s, and KWV relinquished its regulatory functions to the South African Wine Industry Trust and its producing interests to the Wijngaard Co-operative, leaving a publicly quoted marketing company.
Read more about South African Wine: History, Climate and Geography, Wine of Origin, Wine Regions, Viticulture, Winemaking and Wines, Grape Varieties, Important Organisations, South African Wine Competitions
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