In keeping with the spirit of renewal in the South African wine industry, in recent years over 40% of the vineyards were replanted as the industry has realigned its product to compete globally, moving from volume production to noble cultivars and quality wines. South African vineyards were once dominated by white grape varieties but the predominantly red new plantings shifted that. In the last four years, winegrowers have started planting more whites than reds, a reversal of the 10-year trend to planting more reds.
Noble varieties which have been cultivated increasingly in the past few years include Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, which produce top-class white wines, and Shiraz and Pinot Noir.
Although most of the vine varieties cultivated here today were originally imported, up to now six local crossings have been released. The best known of these is a red variety, Pinotage, a cross between Pinot Noir and Hermitage (Cinsaut), which more recently is being cultivated locally on a fairly large scale.
The Stellenbosch region has the most vineyard plantings with 16.4%, followed by Paarl (16.0%), Robertson (13.9%), Swartland (13.4%), Breedekloof (13.8%), Olifants River (10.2%), Worcester (7.2%), Cape South Coast (2.8%), Northern Cape (3.8%) and Klein Karoo (2.4%).
The Breedekloof region currently produces the most wine (20.5%), followed by Robertson (15.6%), Olifants River (14.2%), Worcester (12.9%), Paarl (11.0%), Stellenbosch (10.3%), Northern Cape (6.4%), Swartland (6.5%), Klein Karoo (1.8 %) and Cape South Coast (0.7%).