South Africa’s oldest wine estates

South Africa might be considered a new world wine region, but its winemaking history dates back some 300 years.

South Africa

South Africa’s first vines were planted in 1652 by Dutch surgeon, Jan van Riebeeck, when the Dutch East India Company first landed in Cape Town.

However the country’s first vines were not planted with the intention of making wine, rather to produce grapes to help ward off scurvy among sailors voyaging the Spice Route.

It wasn’t until 1659 that the the first grapes were crushed, and some 25 years later that the country’s first wine region was established.

In 1685 Simon van der Stel purchased 750 hectares of vines just outside of Cape Town establishing what is now known as Constantia – a region later divided into several estates.

For much of the 20th century South Africa’s wine industry went largely under the radar affected by boycotts of South African products in protest against the country’s system of Apartheid.

It wasn’t until the late 1980s and 1990s when Apartheid ended that the world’s export market started to open up for South African wines.

Today South African wines are absolutely represented on the world stage gaining international recognition for well-known varieties such as Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc, as well as the divisive flagship grape, Pinotage.

South Africa's winemaking regions

South Africa’s winemaking regions

Scroll through to explore some of South Africa’s oldest estates…

Have we missed any? Comment below to let us know.

6 Responses to “South Africa’s oldest wine estates”

  1. Dear Lauren,
    We represent Vondeling Wines from the Voor Paardeberg, SA. They have been growing grapes since 1704. In 2002, Vondeling was bought by the present owners.
    All information is available on our website above. If you need any further info, do please email me.
    yours
    Simon

  2. Peter Gent says:

    Please don’t leave out the new areas in South Africa
    The Plettenberg bay region has been making wine since 2004 with award winning wines coming from this coastal area

  3. Ken Forrester Vineyards was first granted by Simon Van Der Stel, the first Governor of the Cape in 1689. The first vines were planted in 1692 and grapes have been cultivated here ever since. In 1993 Ken and Teresa Forrester bought the property and rescued the derelict homestead built in 1694 and have recently celebrated 20 years of wine making here in the Helderberg on the ocean side of Stellenbosch

  4. La Motte was founded in 1695.Vineswere planted by the French Huguenots when they arrived in Franschhoek 1688.Dr Rupert bought the farm in 1969 and replanted the vines.

  5. rijk melck says:

    Dear Lauren,great article. Thought i might add that Muratie Wine Estate rates up there . Granted in 1685 to a soldier Laurens Campher ,this Estate is welknown for its rich history ,heritage and great stories. Producing classic -styled wines ,this Estate huge in character has become one of the ‘under the radar” must visits .

  6. Hi Lauren,

    you wrote – “Today South African wines are absolutely represented on the world stage gaining international recognition”

    “gaining recognition” has long been surpassed – South African wine has already achieved a solid stage in the hard market overseas, especially in Europe. The recent Nederberg auction, again, showed a specific demand… although the knowledge of international wine buyers has always been impeccable when making their SA choices.

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