Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

Zimbabwe, southern african country with small-scale commercial wine industry. After a slow start in the 1960s and 1970s, investment and foreign consultants led to an improvement in wine quality from the late 1980s to the mid 1990s. However, President Mugabe’s land-acquisition policies and a deeply unstable economy have had a devastating impact on both quantity and quality, drastically reducing the area of vineyard, financial potential, and access to knowledge and equipment.

Production is mostly in East Mashonaland and Manicaland, on the same latitude as much of bolivia and southern brazil. The temperate climate averages eight hours of daily sunshine and mean annual temperatures are just under 19 °C/66 °F. Summer rain falls from November to April, but drought is a constant threat. Uneven budding and rot are annual hazards in the long, hot, humid summers, and the grapes can be affected by dilution and hail . The better vineyard areas lie at an elevation of about 1,500 m/4,920 ft. Shortcomings in the vineyard are frequently addressed by acidification and sometimes enrichment (Zimbabwe has no official labelling or wine-production regulations). Chenin Blanc, Colombard, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Crouchen vines produce dry and off-dry whites, with Pinotage, Merlot, Shiraz, and Cabernet Sauvignon planted for reds.