GRAPE VARIETIES - SOUTH AFRICA

Grape varieties in South Africa are known as cultivar, with many common international varieties developing local synonyms that still have a strong tradition of use. These include Chenin blanc (Steen), Riesling (known locally as Weisser Riesling), Crouchen (known as Cape Riesling), Palomino (the grape of the Spanish wine Sherry known locally as "White French"), Trebbiano (Ugni Blanc), Sémillon (Groendruif) and Muscat of Alexandria (Hanepoot). However, wines that are often exported overseas will usually have the more internationally recognized name appear on the wine label.

In 2006, SAWIS (South African Wine Information and Systems) reported that the country had 100,146 hectares of vineyards, with about 55 percent planted to white varieties. Chenin blanc has long been the most widely planted variety, still accounting for at least one-fifth of all grape varieties planted in South Africa as of 2004 though that number is decreasing. In the 1980s and 1990s, interest in international varieties saw increase in plantings of Chardonnay and Sauvignon blanc. Other white grape varieties with significant plantings include Colombard (spelled locally as Colombar), Cape Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Hannepoot, Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains, Riesling and Sémillon. Both red and white mutants of Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains as well as Chenel and Weldra, two Chenin blanc-Ugni blanc crossings, are used for brandy distillation and fortified wine production.  

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