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IIn the stormy corner of the continent, South Africa’s modern history began with a fledgling community, and a garden. Its raison d'être was to be a halfway stop between the East and the West, offering passing vessels refreshments, fruit and vegetables. However, something else rose very quickly to importance.
Jan van Riebeeck, the Cape’s first commander, erroneously believed that wine had a high vitamin C content, and that it would be a perfect remedy for the scurvy-afflicted sailors. He swiftly planted vines and within seven years, wine was already produced. These first vines were in the City Bowl near the Company Gardens, but the soil was far from ideal for viticulture and the wine was ghastly.
Thankfully, Simon van der Stel arrived just more than 20 years later, bringing with him knowledge and expertise in winemaking. He combed through the Cape Town soil, analysing it in one-kilometre intervals, until he hailed Constantia as the “terroir ideal”. Groot Constantia was given to him as his homestead, and it became the first wine farm in South Africa, and indeed the Southern Hemisphere.
Years on, and it’s an immense privilege to live in - and introduce visitors to - the infinite riches unique to this part of the country. Here’s a brief guide to four of the more noted wine-producing areas near Cape Town.