n Cabo - From vine to wine : early wine-making in Table Valley and beyond

Volume 2015, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0379-4830


The planting of vines at the Cape started a few years after Jan van Riebeeck had established an outpost of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) at "De Kaapsche Vlek" on the southern tip of Africa. In July of 1655, at van Riebeeck's request, three containers of vine cuttings and seeds arrived from the Company in Holland. The Dutch themselves were not producers of wine but acted as middlemen, shipping French, Spanish and Rhine wines to countries around Europe and England, so it was easy enough for the VOC administrators to send vine slips to the Cape. Thus arrived the first batch of vine cuttings, most likely - the matriarch of the majority of old world cultivars and the primary source of wine and table grapes. There is no real certainty as to which specific cultivars were initially sent to the Cape, and for the following century there is a lack of clarity about exactly which grapes were grown here. However, experts seem to agree that Greengrape (Semillon), White French (Palomino), Steen (Chenin Blanc) and Hanepoot (Muscat of Alexandria) were the most likely cultivars first grown at the Cape.

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