South Africa: Climate and geography

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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It has been suggested that if South Africa jutted another 200 km/124 miles south into the Atlantic, the cooler climate would slow grape ripening in line with European expectations. That said, the Benguela current from Antarctica makes the Cape cooler than its latitude may suggest and many new vineyard areas south towards Agulhas as well as on the Cape west coast offer the prospect of a long, slow ripening season.

Warm summers from November to April are moderated by cold, wet, blustery winters, frequently with snowfalls on the higher mountains. Late frosts are rare; so are unseasonally heavy summer rains.