Short History of Wine SA

Groot Constantia, Manor House - 146_p1020523 (cropped, vignette)

Late Dutch Renaissance Style:
Groot Constantia Manor House

±6000 BC – Wine made for the first time in Persia (Iran)
±5000 BC – Winemaking caught on in Egypt, Jordan, Syria
±2000 BC – Greeks began making wine
±1000 BC – Vineyards established in Italy, North Africa
±500   BC – Winemaking taken up in Spain and France

First Cape vineyard planted in 1655
First Cape wine made by Jan van Riebeeck in 1659
Stellenbosch founded in 1679
Boschendal of Groot Drakenstein founded in 1685
• Simon van der Stel planted first Constantia vines in 1685
• French Huguenots arrived from 1688 – many settled in the valley that became Franschhoek
• First wine from Fairview of Paarl made in 1699
Vergelegen of Somerset West established in early 1700s
• By mid-to-late 1700s the sweet wines of Constantia were famous in Europe
Nederburg of Paarl established in 1791
Phylloxera detected on Cape vines in 1886 – disease decimated SA wine farms
• Wine bottled at Rustenberg of Stellenbosch for the first time in 1892
• In 1906, South Africa’s first co-op winery established in Tulbagh
KWV established as a co-op in Paarl in 1918, becoming SA wine farmers’ association with legislative powers and industry control
• In 1925 Stellenbosch University’s Prof Abraham Perold crossed Pinot Noir and Hermitage (Cinsaut) to produce Pinotage
• First commercially available Pinotage wine (1959 blend of/from Kanonkop and Bellevue) launched by Stellenbosch Farmers Winery (now Distell) under Lanzerac label in 1961
• First mega SA wine brand Lieberstein (semi-sweet blend of Chenin Blanc and Clairette Blanche launched by SFW in 1959) broke world record with 31-million litres sold in 1964
• 1969 was the first vintage of Nederburg Edelkeur, South Africa’s first Noble Late Harvest wine made using grapes affected by botrytis cinerea (noble rot)
First SA wine route established in Stellenbosch in 1971 – founders Delheim, Simonsig, Spier
• First Cap Classique sparkling wine on the market was Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel Brut 1971
• South Africa’s Wine of Origin legislation passed in 1972, implemented in 1973
• First vintage of Kanonkop wines under Kanonkop labels – including iconic Kanonkop Pinotage – was 1973
• First Nederburg Auction of rare and matured Cape wines held in 1975
• First vintage of Cederberg Private Cellar was 1977
• First Platter’s South African Wine Guide was the 1980 edition
• First wine of Hemel-en-Aarde Valley outside Hermanus bottled by Hamilton Russell Vineyards in 1981
• In 1984, Meerlust Estate of Stellenbosch launched first (1980) vintage of iconic red blend Rubicon
Cape Winemakers Guild founded in 1983 and first CWG Auction held in 1985
• Klein Constantia introduces iconic Vin de Constance Natural Sweet dessert wine in 1986
• First national bottled wine show held in 1991 – later became Veritas Awards
• KWV’s production quota system discontinued in 1992
• South Africa’s first consumer WINE magazine launched in 1993 (last edition published in 2011)
• Maiden vintage from Paul Cluver winery in Elgin was 1997
KWV converted from industry body to private company in 1997
• Inaugural Michelangelo International Wine & Spirits Awards held in 1997
• In 2000, Distell company formed by merger of Stellenbosch Farmers’ Winery (founded 1925) and Distillers Corp (founded 1945)
• First of The Sadie Family Wines of Malmesbury (Swartland) bottled in 2000
• First South African Trophy Wine Show held in 2002
• First South African wines bottled under screwcap came onto the market in 2002
• 2003 saw the first bottling of wines at the Strandveld and Black Oystercatcher cellars outside Elim in the Cape Agulhas district
• First of the annual SA Wine & Cellar Classifications published in 2004 – first by Wine magazine, later on Top Wine SA
Top Wine SA website launched in 2012
• A South African wine export record of 525m litres was set in 2013, exceeding 500m litres for the first time
• Inaugural Cape Wine Auction held in 2014, with R7m raised for wineland charities
• 275ml bottle of Jaubert Muscat d’Alexandrie 1800 from Joubert-Tradauw outside Barrydale in the Klein Karoo fetched R42 500 at 2015 Nederburg Auction in Paarl
• At 2016 AfrAsia Bank Cape Wine Auction in aid of wineland charities, R1.3m fetched for debut bottle of Touch Warwick Cabernet Sauvignon, vintage 2014, WO Stellenbosch


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