Coastal Region is a significant Wine of Origin designation and wine-producing area in the Western Cape that forms the heart of the South African wine industry. Stretching from Darling in the north to Cape Point and Constantia in the south, and to Stellenbosch and Paarl in the east, it accounts for nearly half of all the area under vine in South Africa.
Many of the best-known wine regions are located within the borders of Coastal Region. Wines labeled as Coastal Region tend to be blended with fruit from vineyards in more than one of these (sub-)regions, or need the flexibility to be able to do so.
There is a huge variation of grape varieties cultivated in the Coastal Region. Sauvignon Blanc is grown along the coast whilst towards the inland mountain ranges, where the climate is hotter and drier, there is more Shiraz, Chenin Blanc and Pinotage grown. In the more southern areas of Stellenbosch and Constantia, red wines made from the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grape varieties are often found together as part of a Bordeaux Blend.
On the southern slopes of the Table Mountain range and its world-renowned floral kingdom lies the historic Constantia valley, the cradle of winemaking in the Cape. The valley, which falls within the Cape Peninsula district, was the site of Simon van der Stel’s 17th-century wine farm and the origin of the Constantia dessert wines which became famous throughout Europe during the 18th century. Rooted in ancient soils, the vineyards climb up the east-facing slopes of the Constantiaberg, where the vines benefit from the cool sea breezes blowing in from False Bay. The ward receives about 1000mm of rain annually, making irrigation unnecessary, and has a mean February temperature of 20.6°C. There are only a handful of cellars in this premier ward, where the cool climate favours the production of white wines, notably Sauvignon Blanc, and where the tradition of producing remarkable wines since 1685 continues.
A natural home of crisp whites and textural, concentrated reds; Darling is one of South Africa’s youngest demarcated regions. With a landscape of gnarled old bushvines, Darling is an area with a unique micro-climate aided by the cool breezes of the Atlantic. Great value too!
The appellation of Elgin is seated high in the Kogelberg Biosphere, close to the peaks of the Hottentot Mountains to the east of Cape Town. Here, cool climate fresh whites with fine minerality can be found in abundance. Burgundian varietals; Chardonnay and Pinot Noir reign supreme in this delightfully Old World-inspired corner of The Cape.
Nestled between towering mountains in the beautiful Cape winelands lies the magnificent Franschhoek Valley. This is the food and wine heartland of South Africa, where splendid wines are grown and top chefs create inspirational, international cuisine. Sited just to the north east of Stellenbosch, it is home to some of South Africa’s noble cultivars and classic styles. These range from superb whites from Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Semillon and Chenin Blanc, to reds made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Pinot Noir and Merlot. The area also produces some of the country’s extraordinary Méthode Cap Classique sparkling wines.
The Paarl wine district lies to the north of Stellenbosch, and is bordered by the town of Wellington to the north-east, and the mountains of the Groot and Klein Drakenstein and Franschhoek ranges to the south-east. The Berg River, flanked by the majestic Groot Drakenstein and Wemmershoek mountains, runs through Paarl and is the life-giving artery of this wine-producing area. The valley land requires supplementary irrigation in the hot growing season before the harvest, but vineyards on the eastern slopes, having better water retention, frequently need none at all.
A large variety of grapes are grown in Paarl, of which Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinotage, Shiraz, Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc have the best potential. The Paarl district includes the wards of Simonsberg-Paarl, on the prime foothills of the Simonsberg, Agter-Paarl and Voor Paardeberg.
Piekenierskloof is a high altitude wine region with a warm climate, but enjoys light winds from the south west which result in cool evenings – this is critical in allowing the aromatic profile of the ripening grapes to develop added complexity and balance. Hand selected by Jean Engelbrecht for use in his critically-acclaimed Donkiesbaai wine range, it is a region on the up.
Dubbed the ‘valley of vines and roses’, the Robertson district’s lime-rich soils make the area eminently suitable for racehorse stud farming and also, of course, winegrowing. Situated in the Breede River valley, the river is the lifeblood of this lower rainfall region. Although summer temperatures can be high, cooling south-easterly winds channel moisture-laden air into the valley.
Robertson is renowned for the quality of its wines and while traditionally considered white wine territory and known mainly for its Chardonnays and more recently for the quality of its Sauvignon Blanc, it is also the source of some of the Cape’s finest red wines, particularly Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, while the distinctive fortified dessert wines for which it was originally famed continue to be produced. The district of Robertson incorporates 14 wards, including Bonnievale.
Surely the fine wine capital of the Cape; the town of Stellenbosch has a rich and varied history, together with some of the greatest wine growing terroir in South Africa. Bold reds and fresh whites lead the charge here, with some of the greatest estates of the New World nestled within the appellation.
One of South Africa’s most innovative and dynamic wine-growing regions, the Swartland is rapidly becoming one of the most on-trend and desirable of the southern hemisphere. A raft of eager and talented young winemakers, ancient vines, a Mediterranean climate more akin to the Rhône Valley in southern France and an overwhelming desire to push the fruits of their labour into the world market are offering consumers some of the most individual and eclectic wines available from the New World. Old vine Grenache, Shiraz, Cinsault and Chenin Blanc take centre stage, dry grown and crafted with care. A region that simply cannot be ignored!
Tulbagh is one of the Cape’s ancient wine regions; it is easy to see why, in the 1700s, the Cape’s viticultural pioneers, the Huguenots, chose this fertile valley to settle and farm. Geographic diversity is a trademark of Tulbagh, whose mountainous terrain provides a wide variety of altitudes, aspects, and microclimates. Tulbagh may not hold the same international recognition as nearby Stellenbosch or Swartland, yet it underlines the diversity, terroir and latent potential held within the broader Cape winelands
Centred around the historic coastal fishing town of Hermanus; Walker Bay, cooled by gentle breezes from the South Atlantic ocean, is the home of exceptional cool climate varietals both red and white. A natural home for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in particular, any Francophile wine fan will immediately feel at home!
A broad brush stroke of regions including Robertson, Wellington, Breede River Valley and Stellenbosch; Western Cape operates in a similar way to that of Vin de Pays in France. The ability to blend varieties of varying styles, to complement each other and offer more complete final wines means the best of both worlds. Great wines and great prices!
The highest block of Pinot Noir in the country (950m) is found in this rare appellation and is an exclusivity for the Donkiesbaai bottling. The unique climate, high on the Witzenberg, produces characteristics that contribute to the style and elegance of the wines produced here. Aromatic varieties, in particular Pinot Noir, excel in this borderline climate.