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Snooth User: Adam Levin

Happy the South African Wine Industry

Posted by Adam Levin, Feb 2, 2009.

It turns 350 years old today:


Reply by Rodolphe Boulanger, Feb 2, 2009.

It is time to start the old debate again...

Is South Africa the newest Old World wine region?
Or is it the oldest New World wine region?
Or is it both - at the same time!

Reply by Adam Levin, Feb 2, 2009.

If both is an option, I'll take that.

Reply by Mark Angelillo, Feb 2, 2009.

I never knew where the line was. What's before and after South Africa?

Reply by Adam Levin, Feb 3, 2009.

In a nutshell their history is split in 3 parts. 350 years ago until apartheid, the apartheid era, and 1994 onwards. There was a rich history of "winefarms" and quality wine production up until apartheid. During apartheid much of production in the country was controlled by a government co-op called KWV (it still exists as a wine company today). The focus was on production and stabilization of prices, not on quality, so much of the grape juice was just bulked off to brandy production. Only a few producers continued to produce quality wines during this time. Since 1994, though, there has been a tremendous refocusing of energy and money on replanting and improving the quality of wines.

Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Feb 3, 2009.

Doing pretty well for an old geezer

Reply by Rodolphe Boulanger, Feb 6, 2009.

@Mark - the controversy arises from the fact that South Africa's wine industry is much older and more closely tied to Europe than any of the other New World regions.

South Africa's vineyards were planted by the Dutch in the 17th century around the same time many of Europe's most famous wine regions were being "discovered" and proto-classified. For example, the Medoc in Bordeaux was still swampland at this time. South African Constantia was enjoyed by the likes of Napoleon before California, South America of Australia had any quality vineyards or wine styles of their own.

Since South African wine, at least for the first 250 years, kept close to its European roots (and exported much of its production back to Europe), it earned the title of "Newest Old World" producer. However, since 1994, as Adam points out, it has struck out on a new path of its own, making it the "Oldest New World" producer.

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