At some point, be it on the back of a bottle, at a restaurant or in a wine tasting room, you might have come across the term ‘coastal region’, and how that is a good thing for the wine.
Now, if you’re Cape Town based like Cybercellar, that might not come as such a huge surprise. We love the coast! It means sun, surf and beach time all summer long. However, in the wine world, a coastal region comes with
different benefits for the vines.
Firstly, what constitutes a coastal region?
To understand a coastal region, first let’s understand what a region is. In wine, an appellation or region is a legally defined and protected geographical indication used to identify where the grapes for a wine were grown. This is useful, as regions will have a specific quality or characteristics that are essential due to the geographical environment in which they are produced. It helps winemakers craft wine according to a particular style and quality, and wine drinkers identify what they like to drink.
In 1973, the wine regions of South Africa were defined under the “Wine of Origin” act. They piggybacked off the long-esteemed French Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) system, which has been well-regarded and respected since the early 1900s. This system strives to protect its quality, unique characteristics and factors related to the production and reputation of each region.
When it comes to our South African Coastal Region, the area encompasses 8 districts and 17 wards within the Western Cape. It is sort of an umbrella term. Many of South Africa’s best-known wine regions are located within
the borders of the Coastal region, including Franschhoek, Paarl, Stellenbosch, and Swartland. If a back label says ‘Coastal Region’, this means that the grapes used to make the wine were blended with fruit from vineyards in more than one of these (sub-)regions.
Now how does growing in a Coastal Region affect the vines?
Thanks to the location, the ocean and mountains take turns cooling and shielding the region’s vineyards. And those cooling winds are a must, as most grape varieties, except for some super hardy ones, require a bit of a chill to maintain a good level of acidity. Importantly, as the Coastal Region is so vast, there is a big difference between a delicate white wine of Constantia (closer to the coast) and a fruity Chenin Blanc from the heat of Paarl (further from the coast).
When it comes to which varieties are mostly grown within the Coastal Region, Chenin Blanc is one of the region’s most prominent grapes. In fact, thanks to our nation’s enthusiasm for brandy, Chenin is South Africa’s most widely planted variety (18.5% of the national vineyard area) and makes up the majority of old vine plantings. Other popular varieties include Bordeaux and Southern Rhône Valley red varietals, as well as our national grape, Pinotage.
Today, the Coastal Region contains altogether half of South Africa’s land under vine within its borders, making it the heart and historic birthplace of the South African wine industry…
Shop our selection of coastal wines by clicking on the image below…