Three Centuries of Cape Wine
Even though many people regard South Africa as a “new world” wine producing country, we have in fact happily been making wine for centuries! Our winemaking tradition started when the Dutch East India Company, who traded in spices and all things, decided to establish a halfway-pit-stop at the southern point of Africa in 1652. The main aim of this station was to provide their Indian-bound merchant ships with fresh produce.
Jan van Riebeeck, the first governor of the Cape, planted vines in 1655 and by 1659 the first vintage of South African wine was recorded. The Dutchies were so happy with the result that they decided to plant vines on a larger scale at Roschheuvel, known today as Bishopscourt and Wynberg. Van Riebeeck strongly encouraged farmers to plant vineyards although initially they were most reluctant. Luckily they followed his advice and the region rapidly expanded its reach beyond the Cape Town area.