Just like the two countries I call home, South Africa and the United States, I enjoy a quality bottle of wine. Most of you probably know that America is one of the top wine producers in the world, fourth to be exact. But South Africa also is a top producer as well, currently seventh in the world. Just like the U.S.’s vineyards, South Africa’s wine is only topped by the diverse and beautiful landscapes where these grapes are cultivated. With so many regions, both countries boast several varietals that the world loves to consume.
As a nation that is often overlooked by non wine enthusiasts, South Africa may sometimes get labeled as an emerging wine producer. However, the nation’s wine tradition actually extends back 350 years. Additionally, the U.S.’s producing history extends almost as far at around 300 years. The U.S.’s would probably be even longer if not for being a newcomer to the world. With more history on its side, maybe its history would be like those in Italy and France.
Currently, South Africa’s most popular wines are Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Colombard, while the U.S. enjoys a good glass of Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc more than other varietals.
With a bit of history of both producers, understand that both nations benefit from having diverse landscapes and temperatures to grow. When it comes to climate, the Cape winelands of South Africa feel Mediterranean-like. Benefitting from both the Atlantic and Indian Oceans helping it grow, the grapes take a bit longer to ripen, creating fuller flavors. In the U.S., every state has some producers of wine. From Alaska to to Wyoming, wine is coming from all locations and climates of the United States–helping the country hold the title of the largest wine market since 2010.
Both countries hold their vineyards and regions in high esteem. 1972’s Wine of Origin Scheme cemented
South Africa’s stance on protecting its historical and profitable lands. By preserving the regions, South Africans and the world can continue to enjoy wine from the historical Constantia area or Stellenbosch, the country’s leading wine producer. Other regions in the nation demonstrate their power to produce stellar white wines, while other regions are evolving to produce more reds and other varietals that benefit from South Africa’s diverse climate.
In America, California reigns supreme when it comes to wine notoriety, as well as production. Napa and Sonoma Valleys are known as some of the world’s elite producing regions. However, while California pulls in nearly $25 billion in retail revenue per year, other regions like Colorado’s Western Slope, New York state’s Finger Lakes and the Texas Hill Country are just a few areas demonstrating the country’s full producing output.
Regardless your preference, both countries offer up quite a few selections for almost any wine drinker. If you have a preference, I recommend trying one from each country and start sampling responsibly.