Breede River Valley, South Africa


In this article we’re taking a trip to South Africa’s Western Cape, specifically the Breede River Valley. Sit back and relax while we explore the region and highlight how its unique characteristics emerge through its breede river valley wine. We’ll also showcase one particular wine which we think captures the essence of the Breede River Valley.

What makes the Breede River Valley special as a wine growing region?

About an hour’s drive east of Cape Town, you arrive in the Western Cape province’s largest fruit and wine growing region. The Breede River Valley is broad and flat, and surrounded by mountains. Row upon row of fruit trees and grapevines meet the eye, watched over by the brooding hills.

Unlike coastal areas of the Western Cape province, Breede River Valley doesn’t encounter cooling sea breezes. Consequently it is quite hot, especially in the summer. Its Mediterranean type climate of little rain, long sunshine hours, cool nights and few winter frosts is perfect for viticulture. The flat valley floor is covered by free draining alluvial soils, which grapevines love and which lend a minerality to the resulting wines.

What makes South African winemakers different?

For a New World country, South Africa has a relatively long history of winemaking. After all, the first bottle of wine was produced in 1659 by the founder of Cape Town, Jan van Riebeeck. So as you might expect, South African winemakers use a combination of old and new world traditions in their craft; aging may take place in oak barrels or concrete “eggs”, for example. Since the end of apartheid winemakers have embraced new technologies and innovations to produce high quality wines, successfully entering the international market.

South African winemakers have lately been experimenting with cinsault, a productive and drought tolerant variety, with some success; normally used in bulk blends, particularly with cabernet sauvignon, careful experimentation is resulting in low alcohol, delicious varietal wines. Of course cinsault is also famous as one of the parents (along with pinot noir) of the signature variety pinotage which is a South African creation.

Bruce Jack Reserve Pinotage

Only the best grapes grown in the Breedekloof district of Breede River Valley are used to make Bruce Jack’s Reserve Pinotage. Harvesting takes place in the cool of the early morning, before the grapes are crushed and destemmed; then they are fermented on the skin for a period to extract colour and tannins.

A fine example of the varietal, this wine is fruit-forward with cherries, plums, chocolate and spice coming through both on the nose and in the mouth. Soft tannins round off this eminently drinkable reserve pinotage. Pair it with barbecued meats such as beef and game, smoked duck, and also curry.

Continue exploring

The Breede River Valley offers spectacular scenery as well as fantastic wines. Natural habitat sits side by side with cultivated areas and various wildlife reserves welcome tourists. “Wine routes” encompass a number of wineries with tasting rooms and cellar door purchasing to delight the weary wine traveller. If you’re lucky enough to visit, seek out and try a varietal cinsault or pinotage, or South Africa’s signature white wine, chenin blanc. Whatever your preference, find yourself a relaxing spot to sip your chosen breede river valley wine as the sun goes down. Take a moment to immerse yourself in the sunshine and beauty of the Breede River Valley that shines through the wine; and reflect on the landscape, climate and people that have come together to create it.