Not only did Jan van Riebeeck open up the gates for trade down in the Cape in 1652 but he also was responsible for the first vineyard in 1659. Van Riebeeck strongly encouraged farmers to plant vineyards although initially, they were most reluctant. French Muscadel grapes were used to make the first South African wine.
There were many setbacks in the beginning, but things improved when Van Riebeeck was succeeded in 1679 by Simon van der Stel, who was not only enthusiastic but very knowledgeable about winemaking. He planted a vineyard on his farm Constantia and made good wine from the outset. Van der Stel imported many grape varieties to his estate including Chenin Blanc, Semillon, Palomino and Muscat. To this day, Constantia wine is mentioned when the world's most excellent examples are discussed.
The wine industry in South Africa has grown immensely since then as winemakers experiment and plant a variety of grapes to try and find the best grapes for their unique bottles. Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay are some of the country’s best contenders.