Our journey along The Road Less Traveled in pursuit of exceptional wine has taken us to a variety of winemaking regions across the globe. We’ve been lucky to uncover incredible selections along each of our stops, and our most recent expedition was no exception. In fact, we discovered one of the most impressive, yet underrated, winemaking regions in the world!
Grab your passport and a wine glass and join us as we explore the wines of South Africa!
The History of South African Wine
The South African winemaking industry has been producing dynamic wines on unique, sustainable vineyards since the 1650s, yet until the last decade, they have remained largely anonymous to most of America.
While their location may feel unfamiliar to the average wine drinker compared to more popular regions like Napa, Sonoma and Europe, most of the wines produced in South Africa are surprisingly similar, with the exception of two remarkable outliers: Pintotage and Chenin Blanc.
Known as South Africa’s signature red grape, Pinotage is a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault. Characterized by its earthy, fruit-forward flavor, it is delicious with any food fresh off the barbecue.
Conversely, Chenin Blanc is South Africa’s staple white wine grape and just so happens to be their most planted variety. It is extremely versatile and can be incorporated into both dry and sweet wines. Its fruity flavors and aromas make it the perfect partner for creamy goat cheese and spicy dishes.
While these two grape varietals put South Africa on the map for winemaking, their commitment to sustainability is a point of difference that sets them apart from almost every other region in the world.
South Africa’s Commitment to Sustainable Winemaking
Leading the wine producing world in sustainable practices, South Africa recognizes that protecting the land and environment around their vineyards is just as important as protecting the vineyards themselves.
Their lengthy list of sustainable endeavors includes water conservation, wastewater purification, energy conservation, and growing practices that limit artificial pesticides. In fact, on every bottle of South African wine, you can find a sticker certifying that the wine has been produced with “integrity and sustainability.”
South Africa’s admirable efforts toward sustainability are evident in the quality of the wines they produce. We’re confident you will taste the difference!
South Africa’s Winemaking Regions
South Africa is located on the southernmost tip of the African continent and covers a total land area of more than 470,000 square miles offering a variety of different terrains ranging from safari land to beaches to mountains to lagoons. These varying terrains bring something unique to each corner of South Africa, but they’re not all ideal for a flourishing vineyard.
We believe in knowing our sources, so check out a few of the South African winemaking regions we’re sourcing from:
- Swartland Appellation: Located approximately 40 miles north of Cape Town in the Western Cape of South Africa, the hot, dry climate of the Swartland Appellation helps produce highly concentrated fruit.
- Coastal Region Appellation: Covering approximately 65 miles, South Africa’s wine industry began in the Coastal Region. Due to its large size and climatic influences from the ocean and the mountains, these vineyards offer a wide variety of soil types, which results in a unique assortment of grapes.
- Stellenbosch Appellation: Known as the home of South Africa’s best wine estates, the Stellenbosch Appellation is the most famous wine producing region in the country. Located in the Coastal Region on the Western Cape, the hot climate, ancient soils and hilly rolling terrain allow for the production of a variety of different wine styles.
Four Wines to Try from Heinen’s South African Wine Collection
We certainly encourage you to pin South Africa on your travel bucket list to experience their winemaking traditions in person, but you don’t have to book a flight to taste their wines today. We’ve curated a collection of 12 South African wines that are now available in our Wine Department as our Road Less Traveled regional feature!
From bottles made with South Africa’s signature Pinotage and Chenin Blanc to more common varietals like Cabernet, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, it’s time to channel your inner explorer and discover these finds from off the beaten path!
Not sure which wines to try first? Check out four recommendations from our wine experts below or let your local Heinen’s wine consultant be your “wine tour guide” and point you in the direction of a South African wine that resembles the wines you already know you love!
1. Lubanzi Chenin Blanc (From South Africa’s Swartland Appellation)
If you’re looking for a true South African wine experience, this is the bottle to buy. Featuring flavors of stone fruit, lychee and green apple from South Africa’s staple Chenin Blanc grape, drinking this wine is similar to biting into a ripe green apple. It pairs perfectly with Asian-inspired dishes.
2. TAJ Pinotage (From South Africa’s Swartland Appellation)
This wine is virtually synonymous with South Africa because the Pinotage grape was literally created there decades ago when Pinot Noir was crossed with another red grape, Cinsault. This bottle is a red wine lover’s dream that offers plum and dark chocolate notes on a smooth and silky frame. Spicy, grilled meats are a delicious partner.
3. Boschendal Rosé (From South Africa’s Coastal Region Appellation)
This unique Rosé is a blend of Merlot, Shiraz and Pinotage that is charming and tasty! There are ample aromas and flavors of crushed summer berries (strawberry and raspberry) with a tinge of spice. With abundant freshness all the way around, this is an ultimate sipper for a summer on the patio.
4. Delaire-Graff “Botmaskop” Cabernet Sauvignon Blend (From South Africa’s Stellenbosch Appellation)
This opulent red wine has rightfully earned its place among the world’s other great Cabernet Sauvignon growing regions. Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot, Merlot and Malbec join forces to create a complex wine with flavors of blackcurrant and spice. Serve this wine alongside a Heinen’s CARE Certified steak for the ultimate culinary experience.