Coastal Wine Region
The Cape Coastal Region is well known to wine fans for the unique taste that this region gives to its wines, and to the many varieties of excellent wine which are produced in this area. In some ways it is considered to be the most important region in terms of its wine cultivation, having a long history of its wine production, and one of the strongest wine-based economies in South Africa. It is quite a large region, and there are many different districts within that area, the majority of them to the found along the Western coast. Many popular and highly regarded wines are grown in this area. In fact, the wines produced by The Cape Coastal region are considered to represent South African wine-growing at its very best, and for this reason the produce of this region are very popular among dedicated wine drinkers.
The Coastal region has two different types of soil that are useful to wine growers, which are a deep red clay which helps to retain moisture for the grapes, and the light sandy earth of areas nearer to the shore which are known for their well-draining capacity. There are also some areas where lime and other stone-rich outcrops are used to give vine produce an additional flavour. These good soils, combined with a low level of rain but a very warm summer combine to create the rich and earthy flavour of the wines from this region. The climate is described as Mediterranean in temperature, although the winds from both the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean combine to produce limited sunshine outside of the summer, and in some areas of the Cape Coastal region wine producing is centred around cold-climate viticulture. Due to the wide variety of soils and temperatures, the Cape Coastal region can grow a number of different wines, from the Chenin Blanc (also known as Steen), to the Pinotage.
Like the other wine regions of South Africa, Cape Coastal is divided into several different sub-regions known as Districts. These areas of Cape Coastal include the Cape Point, Paarl, Swartland, Tygerberg, Darling, Stellenbosch, and Tulbagh. Cape Point is considered to produce excellent wine crops, due to its location on the very edge of the Cape Peninsula. The cold ocean airs of the Atlantic meet warmer currents from a bay close to Table Mountain National Park, and this means that the grapes produced here bloom over a long period. Cabernet Sauvignon is the most familiar of the red grapes, although Chardonnay, Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscat Blanc are very popular with farmers in the region. Cape Point wines are also grown around the Cape Town capital, which has a long history of producing wines, particularly the Constantia dessert wine.
A very different wine-growing district within the Coastal Region is Darling. One of the furthest north of the Coastal’s districts, Darling has a very cool climate, partially due to its location near the Atlantic Ocean. The cool and rainy climate helps to produce extended growing seasons which not only help to add flavour and a tinge of acidity to white wine grapes, but also help to produce very deep, rich red wines which produce very individual characteristics in this wine. Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay are all grown in this region.