South Africa's wine land is regarded as being staggeringly beautiful - the majestic table mountain looms above Capetown acting as an iconic landmark. The rolling green pastures lie beneath hosting a myriad of vineyards which flourish on the ancient soils. However, the culture of the industry is not as flawless as its appearance. The jaded colonial and apartheid past of South Africa is evident in its wine history, but today the future is thankfully bright and prosperous.
The European settlers who pioneered the industry in the 16th century have integrated Old World ideologies, but today the country is regarded as a New World producer, making accessible and affordable wines influenced by both cultures. Maverick winemakers lead the field, turning out impressive Bordeaux blend wines, esoteric Chenin Blancs and signature Pinotages. The University of Stellenbosch contributes greatly to innovation in wine science and technology, and 60% of South Africa's wine producers have signed up to the Biodiversity & Wine Initiative (BWI) which instigates sustainable wine production - thus positioning South Africa in line with other progressive countries. Stellenbosch is regarded as the most important fine wine region, Swartland and Paarl are close seconds and Worcester, Robertson, Olifants River and Orange River combine to account for the remaining hectares planted under vine. Style-wise, one can expect anything from a traditional method Sparkling wine right through to an Old World style fortified or dessert wine.