Types of red wine in SA and more...

Types of red wine...Types of white wine...in Cape Town

Being French, I love wines and my first job in Cape Town was in the wine industry and guess what my husband is...in the wine industry too! As you are going to quickly notice, the wine culture is very strong in South Africa.

I hope you will find useful information about the types of red wines in South Africa, where it comes from and other information on this industry.

You can even buy South African wine online or just find out where to buy in South Africa.

More white wine than red wine production?

Africa's finest wines are produced in the Western Cape. South African vineyards were historically producing white wines more than red wines but, for the last 10 years, a reversal has occured with 80% of all new plantings being reds.

Types of red wine

One can say that there are two types of red wine: single varietals and blends. South African wineries are traditionally focusing on single varietals. However, over the past 10 years, there has been an amazing increase in a number of high quality blends. In terms of new plantings, shiraz and pinot noir make the biggest share of new plantings of reds every year.


Being a "new world" producer, South Africa consumers have a knowledge and understanding of varietals, as opposed to a culture of origin wines as it is the case in Europe (France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, ...) where wines are generally named by the region of origin and quite often do not even show on the label which varietals are used to make the wine.

These are the main varietals you will find in South African wines.

Cabernet Sauvignon
Shiraz (growing)
Pinotage (growing) / invention of South Africa / hybrid of French varietals pinot noir and cinsault (hermitage), hence the name pinot-age. Mainly a South African grown varietals, it is now one of the top 4 varietals, along with Cabernet Sauvignon,
Merlot and Shiraz
Pinot Noir (growing in quantity and in quality)/ driven by Hermanus region ( Bouchard Finlayson , Whale Haven , Hamilton Russell )

Sauvignon Blanc
Chenin Blanc

Blends are also becoming more and more popular in South Africa, influenced by French and Italian wines mainly. The vast majority of the varietals in South Africa are French varietals introduced by the French Huguenots around 1650.

However a number of top winemakers in South Africa believe that the South African terroir could in the future prove to be best suited for other varietals, Italian (Sangiovese), Spanish (Tempranillo), Portuguese, as well as less common French varietals from the Languedoc or Rhone regions (Mouvedre, Grenache, Viognier, etc...) and other varietals from south eastern Europe, especially if carefully blended.

The famous wine maker from Columella, one of the best wines from South Africa, and probably the most expensive, is an advocate of this theory, and proves it with amazing wines acclaimed all over the world, made as a blend of classic and very unusual varietals.

Apart from these unusual blends, the most common blends you will find in South Africa are Bordeaux blends (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Petit verdot, Cabernet Franc) and what is now called Cape Blends (Cabernet, Shiraz, Pinotage)

South African Sauvignon Blancs are fantastic and probably to the opinion of lots of local and international experts, the next big thing for South Africa.

Try some very good Chenin Blancs and remember that this is also probably the very next big thing, as South Africa has been the pioneer in developing this varietals, usually used to make inexpensive wines, into a noble varietals giving amazing wines. Ken Forrester has been at the Forefront of this movement.

Pinot Noir, almost non existent in South Africa until the nineties, has been growing in popularity and recognized for its quality since 2000 more or less. This was initiated by a few key wineries ( Bouchard Finlayson, Hamilton Russell ...) that now have excellent Pinot Noirs.

South African sweet wines are of very high quality and win lots of international prizes. The most well known is the famous Vin de Constance, but there are numerous other great sweet wines in South Africa, in various price ranges.

Methode Champenoise from Champagne is used in South Africa and the wines made from this method are named Cap Classique. Hence they are made "as Champagnes" but not "in Champagne region", so they cannot carry the name Champagne.

However many of them are of very good quality and they are usually very well priced compared to the French Champagnes, of which most famous brands are sold in South Africa. The classic Cap Classique household names are Pongracz, Pierre Jourdan, Tradition and Graham Beck ; and many others which you will discover!


This is an indicative list and there are lots of very good wines which I will not name, but I would like to give you a list of various famous wines or wineries in South Africa.


Kanonkop (Pinotage, Paul Sauer)

Vergelegen (Cabernet Sauvignon)


Thelema (Cabernet Sauvignon)

Meerlust (Rubicon)

Rust en Vrede (Cabernet Sauvignon, Estate Wine)

Ernie Els

Klein Constancia (Vin de Constance)
You can complete this list by clicking here.


Garagiste wines are also popular in South Africa, and I recommend you a few good ones: Topaz (pinot Noir), Catherine Marshall and Vins d'Orrance (Shiraz). Vins d'Orrance's wines were garagist wines but they are now over this stage! They are amongst the best wines of South Africa.

If you are interested in ordering some of these wines, just contact me



There are several wine routes around Cape Town. They are all very nice but it all depends on how much time you are willing to spend tasting wines and discovering wine estates.

If you have just a few hours, I would advise to go to Constantia and Cape Point during your trip to the Cape of Good Hope (if you are planning to!).

If you have half day to one day, you could go to Stellenbosch , Paarl and/or Franschoek.

If you have more than one day, you could enjoy further wine routes such as in Swartland , Robertson or Hermanus.


If you are interested in history and finding out how the Huguenots influenced the wine industry in South Africa, I advise you to go to the Franchoek Huguenot museum.


From end of January to mid of March
If you feel like making your own wine during one day or longer, I can arrange that for you.

From picking, climbing into big 9 square meter tanks containing up to 3 tons of grapes, stomping to brewing your own award winning wine.

To top all this, all stompers receive 12 bottles of their own handmade wine the following year after proper barrel ageing.If you are keen on that, let me know....

Make your own wine!

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