South African Wine Varieties

Red Wine
White Wine

Red Wine grown in South Africa

Cabernet Sauvignon

is the foremost grape variety from the Bordeaux region of France. Cabernet Sauvignon produces some of the finest long lasting wines in the world, that mature well and age into full body, complexed spicy wines. As in Bordeaux, it is often blended with Merlot and Cabernet Franc. In South Africa it is often partnered with Pinotage and Shiraz.

Cabernet Franc

is a relative of Cabernet Sauvignon, but is usually softer and has a lower alcohol and sugar content. Used in classic Bordeaux-style blends but also for varietal wines. Tiny but increasing vineyard area in South Africa.


was previously known locally as Hermitage. A strong and very versatile variety – that is often used in blends. But is probably better known for its contribution to the forming of South Africa's favourite son – Pinotage.

Grenache (Noir)

is one of Spain's most important varieties where it’s known as Garnacha, this hardy grape is resistant to the harsh elements and is often used for blending with Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.


It was once a significant component in Bordeaux blends but is no longer found in the region’s best vineyards. This spicy variety is now mainly grown in Cahors in western France where it’s known as 'Cot’. Argentina’s signature variety, it’s also grown in Chile. Very small plantings in South Africa.


is an early ripening variety that is traditionally used as a blending partner to Cabernet Sauvignon but is now increasingly being bottled as a varietal wine. It is often seen as an easier, softer alternative to a Cabernet Sauvignon. Planted in increasing quantities, particularly in the Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl regions.


is a variety that produces a very popular sweet red wine, with particularly good examples of it being produced in the Little Karoo region.

Petit Verdot

This superb variety is used in small percentages in Bordeaux-style blends and can also be made into cultivar wines. Limited plantings locally.

Pinot Noir

The king of Burgundy but notoriously difficult to grow elsewhere, although some very good examples are now being produced in South Africa.


A local cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsaut (Hermitage), created by Professor Abraham Perold in 1925. Unique to South Africa, it can produce complex and fruity wines with age but is also often very drinkable when young. In order for a wine to be classified as a ‘Cape Blend’ it has to consist of a minimum of 30% of Pinotage.


A noble variety of French origin. Better known as Syrah outside of South Africa, the largest production of Shiraz is now found in Australia but local production has steadily increased over the last couple of years.

Tinta Barocca

is predominantly used for the production of port wine in South Africa.


California's leading grape variety (same as Italy’s Primitivo) is planted on a limited scale in South Africa.
provided by Kanonkop

White Wine grown in South Africa


Is a native of Burgundy, this variety is also widely planted throughout the New World, as well as in South Africa. Locally, much experimentation has been taking place with the oak ageing of Chardonnay, and various styles of excellent wines are being produced. It is also used in some of the base wines from which Methode Cap Classique sparkling wines are produced..

Chenin Blanc (Steen)

The most widely cultivated variety in South Africa, growers are raising the standard to new levels. Characterised by its versatility, Chenin Blanc produces good natural wines covering the whole spectrum from sweet to dry, as well as sherry and sparkling wine. Its fruitiness finds favour with a wide range of palates. It is also used for distilling brandy and spirits.


Is one of the mainstays in the production of brandy in South African, this varietal is also used to produce quality blended wines. Good acid content ensures fresh, interesting wines with a pleasant fruity flavour.


Has a delicate aromatic flavour profile with an easily identifiable rose-petal fragrance; usually produces a light, off-dry wine.


Is the old Afrikaans name for d'Alexandrie and is the Cape's most planted muscat variety, it is used mainly for dessert wine, as well as natural wine and raisins. Hanepoot delivers a strong, flowery bouquet and intense honey flavours.

Pinot Gris

Planted on a very small scale in South Africa. Produces wines which are full and well balanced.

Sauvignon Blanc

In combination with Semillon and Muscadel these grapes produce some of the most exceptional white wines of Bordeaux. Extensively planted in the 18th century, Sauvignon Blanc has now regained popularity and considerably increased its share of plantings. There are some leading local examples which have garnered international attention.

Semillon (Green Grape)

Produces a full yet subtle wine with little acid; often used in blends. Locally, some outstanding wooded varietal wines have been produced from this grape variety which once represented 93% of all Cape vines and now accounts for only about 1%.


Is becoming increasingly fashionable internationally, this variety has been grown for centuries in the northern half of the Rhône valley in France. An early ripener, it produces delicate complex wines with peach, apricot, honey and spice aromas.

Weisser Riesling (Rhine Riesling)

Has adapted well to South Africa's soil and climate. Produces very full, flavourful wines with excellent fruit acids that develop well with bottle ageing. Wines have a honeyed spicy nose and a flowery sweetness.
White Wine Bottle with Grapes
Luhambo Tours Logo
[borlabs-cookie type="btn-cookie-preference" title="Cookies"/]
© 2024 Luhambo Tours. All rights reserved.
Don't miss our updates
Subscribe to our Newsletter now