Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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Stellenbosch, important wine district in south africa, named after the charming university town at its heart 45 km/28 miles east of Cape Town with its Cape Dutch, Cape Georgian, and Victorian buildings shaded by long-established oaks.

Stellenbosch is the Cape’s most famous wine district, traditionally associated with the country’s most celebrated reds. It has been producing wine since 1679. As well as Stellenbosch University, it is also home to the Wine & Spirit Board and the biggest wine wholesaler distell with its 10,000-barrel maturation cellars. Stellenbosch is surrounded by valleys of vines and the soaring blue-grey mountains of Stellenbosch, Simonsberg, and Helderberg. The district’s wards—Banghoek, Bottelary, Devon Valley, Jonkershoek Valley, Papegaaiberg, Polkadraai Hills, and Simonsberg-Stellenbosch in 2014—all yield wines capable of displaying distinctive differences. Vineyards on the Helderberg (which runs from Stellenbosch to False Bay at Somerset West) enjoy a considerable reputation. Soils and climate vary, from sandy alluvial loam along the valley floors and river courses to deep, moisture-retaining decomposed granite on the hillsides. The climate is tempered by the Atlantic sweeping into False Bay, a 15-minute drive from the town. Average daily summer temperatures range from 20 °C/68 °F.