South Africa: Wine of Origin and labelling

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

Wine of Origin (WO) legislation introduced in 1973, and variously updated since then, ended decades of a labelling free-for-all in which confused South African wine nomenclature and unverified vintage and grape variety claims baffled the consumer. The following types of wine production zones are now classified: geographical unit (e.g. Western Cape), region (e.g. Coastal), which may represent a merging of several districts, district (e.g. Stellenbosch), and ward (e.g. Bottelary). While the larger units are broadly geographical and/or political, a ward is based on shared soils, climate, etc. (i.e. aspects of terroir). ‘Estates’ are no longer official places of origin, but registered ‘estate wines’ must be grown, made, and bottled on a single property. Single vineyards may be indicated as such on labels provided they are not larger than 6 ha/15 acres, are planted to a single variety, and are registered in accordance with the legal provisions.