South Africa’s most well-known wine region, Stellenbosch is home to some excellent South African wines. Located east of Cape Town, this wine region is one of the oldest and most important wine-producing regions in the country. 

Below, we will delve deeper into the history of Stellenbosch, its prominent grape varietals, culture, and more. 

Stellenbosch: South Africa’s Best-Known Secret

Stellenbosch is the centre of wine tourism for South Africa. With vineyards on gently rolling hills set amongst the background of granite mountains, the charming vistas, the warm hospitality and sensational wine exploring experiences is a driving force behind why many wine enthusiasts place this region high on their must-visit list. 

Stellenbosch is to South Africa what Napa Valley is to California – earning it the title of South Africa’s best-known secret. Within the larger Stellenbosch region, there are seven sub-regions or “wards”, as they call them locally, that produce great wine especially reds and they are: Banghoek, Bottelary, Devon Valley, Jonkershoek Valley, Papegaaiberg, Polkadraai Hills and Simonsberg-Stellenbosch. 

If you are looking to purchase South African wines for your cellar, numerous high-quality producers are operating in this region that you can explore.

About Stellenbosch: History, Culture, Grapes and More

Stellenbosch dominates South Africa’s wine scene in terms of history, wine quality and education. Founded in 1679 by Dutch settlers, it wasn’t long after that the French Huguenots began planting the first vines and establishing wine estates across the region. 

Throughout the 1800s, Stellenbosch found a ready market due to the war between France and Britain. However, this soon came to an end once the war was over and with the arrival of Phylloxera which devastated most of the vineyards. It wasn’t until the 20th century that the wine industry began to see a renewal. In 1918, the University of Stellenbosch was founded which has been a leading center of education for winemakers. 

By the 1970s, the region’s winemakers developed the Stellenbosch Wine Route as a means to export wine. While the exportation of South African wine experienced tumultuous times due to apartheid, with the election of Nelson Mandela in 1994 many countries began to take notice of this region and export in larger quantities. 

The terrain and climate of this region offer winemakers the ability to produce a variety of different wine styles. Traditionally, it was the white grape varietals of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay that put Stellenbosch on the map. In recent years, wine estates have grown notoriety for their red grape varietals in particular Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Bordeaux blends. 

The Stellenbosch wine region is also the birthplace of Pinotage, a unique grape cultivated in 1925 as a cross between Pinot noir and Cinsaut (Cinsaut was known as “Hermitage” in South Africa at that time, hence the name). 

Graceland Vineyards: A Premium Example of Stellenbosch Wine

While there are many notable wine estates in Stellenbosch one that stands out, in particular, is that of Graceland Vineyards. Owned by Paul and Sue McNaughton, this family-run boutique winery has been producing premium wines for the last two decades. 

Located in the heart of Stellenbosch, on the slopes of the Helderberg this small estate produces 40,000 bottles annually, particularly in red grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Shiraz. Taking a natural approach to winemaking, Graceland Vineyards ensures that their smaller production line produces top-quality wines with low levels of sulphur dioxide. 

The Graceland Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 is a particular favourite of our team at the Small Winemakers Collection. This full-bodied, dry Cabernet Sauvignon is balanced with structured, round tannins and rich notes of blackberries wrapped in dark chocolate are abundant in this most elegant and stylish Cabernet. The perfect pairing for lean red meats such as lamb chops or venison. 

Small Winemakers Collection: Order South African Wine Online

Our Ontario wine agent has proudly supported numerous South African wineries in recent years including those in Stellenbosch and Walker’s Bay. We truly believe that these wine-growing regions are the true gems of the South African wine industry. 

From delicate whites to hearty reds, there is a place in every wine enthusiast’s collection of a bottle of South African wine. Browse our collection of wine from the Stellenbosch region today.

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