South Africa may be the dominant country in Africa’s wine economy. However, the as the continent’s middle class emerges and their disposable incomes increase, entrepreneurs all over the continent are making way into the fine wine industry.
According to a report by South African Wine Industry Information and Systems, the South Africa’s wine trade contributed $2.4 billion to the country’s economy increasing by more than a quarter in 2013.
African wines are increasingly becoming popular in the continent. The industry may be still in its infancy in most parts of the continent. Matome Mbatha, a market manager at Wines of South Africa, issued a statement revealing that the process of production and sustainability of wine in African nations, other than South Africa has a long way to go in order to become competitive in the global market.
Countries have opened vineyards and chateaus across the continent. Some of Africa’s lesser known wine makers are hoping to challenge that assertion and South Africa’s long dominance of the region’s wine business.
Before we go into more details, here’s our list of most popular African wines:
- Dodoma wine (Tanzania)
- Leleshwa Sauvignon Blanc (Kenya)
- Charlevale (Zimbabwe)
- Tej (Ethiopia)
- Ifrikia Rouge Reserve (Tunisia)
Now let’s look at some of Africa’s wine producers that are coming up together with most popular African wines that you have to try.
Dodoma wine, Tanzania
Although it does not have an international reputation as a wine producer, it is actually home to the second largest wine producing region in Sub-Saharan Africa after South Africa. The history of wine production in the country is relatively recent and grew in tandem with the independence of Tanganyika and its merger with Zanzibar in the 1960s.
The dry earth and sandy soil combined with low humidity are perfect for producing dry wines. It has two harvest seasons in a year, in March and August-September. After each harvest, the plant is left in peace for one month. The two harvests are usually different from a qualitative point of view and usually only in the August one is used for wine production.
The Dodoma region in Tanzania produces three wine- dry white, red and ‘natural sweet. The red wine has a smooth, rounded taste and is best with ‘Nyama Choma’ a delicacy of roasted spiced meat enjoyed locally. The ‘natural sweet’ wine is the perfect complement for salads or can simply be enjoyed as an aperitif.
Dodoma is home to a number of varieties including Cabernet Sauvignon, Chenin Blanc, Shiraz and Makutupora (a local dry red).
Leleshwa Sauvignon Blanc, Kenya
Leleshwa Sauvignon Blanc is the Rift Valley Winery’s flagship vintage. It is a light and tropical blend with a summery aroma. It is unique in the sense that it is thought impossible to grow vines in this region. In addition, the wine is thought of as not good quality.
However, with a growing consumer base and plans to expand around Africa, the Rift Valley Winery, which sits on the equator, is proving that good quality wine can be produced in extreme climates.
The winery does not have enough volume to export to European and US markets yet. It is currently expanding to cover 250 hectares.
The Bushman Rock Estate situated in Zimbabwean valley on Nyamasanga River is one of the country’s most prominent vineyards, producing a range of fine wines.
The Charlevale is the winery’s flagship tipple. A dry, oaked white wine blend of Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscat, the Charlevale has hints of fresh gooseberry and an acidic, lemony finish.
The combination of high-altitude vineyards, hot summers and cool nights make land-locked Zimbabwe an ideal location for wine growing.
Zimbabwean wines are gaining recognition on the international stage as tourists visit the country’s vineyards. Whilst great wines are being made from Zimbabwean vineyards, some of which have received awards in international competitions, there is still room for growth in both quality and quantity.
Tej is an East African honey wine, primarily consumed in Ethiopia. It is white wine, which can be either sweet or dry depending on the amount of honey used. It also includes Gesho, which is a buckthorn shrub native to the Horn of Africa nation.
There are very few, if any, wineries that produce Tej since the wine tends to be homemade or served in a “Tej Bet,” a bar that specializes in the wine. It’s a great stimulating aperitif and complement to most dishes or desserts.
The sale of Tej wine is increasing internationally as social media and international wine competitions raise awareness of alternative African wines.
Ifrikia Rouge Reserve, Tunisia
Ifikia Rouge Reserve is a Cabernet blend with a smooth flavor and a rich tangy aftertaste with hints of raspberry. It has a deep maroon color and sweet aroma similar to port.
The wine is made by Domaine Atlas in Tunisia, is produced in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, a series of peaks that run through northwest Africa.
So that’s it for our list of most popular African wines! Did you like it? Let us know in the comments below 🙂