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 Filed as : Regional SpotlightSouth Africa

South Africa's Tablecloth

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  • Publish Date: Feb 16, 2010

Africa’s safari destinations get the lion’s share of travel press (pun intended), but the Cape Winelands of South Africa deserve equal time. This part of the world is gloriously beautiful, with an ecosystem unlike any other. For the botanists out there, it should be noted that it is also contiguous with the Cape Floral Kingdom, the smallest and most diverse of the World Heritage sites, with over 6,700 indigenous plant species.

When it comes to wines and vines, there are several elements that contribute to the unique character of land—one of them being the fog. Table Mountain is South Africa’s most recognizable icon, a flattened monolith overlooking Cape Town. It gives name to the “tablecloth,” a dense, low-lying fog layer that sweeps in from the ocean on summer evenings.

The temperature difference between the land and these fronts can reach 18°, creating a fog that cools the day’s blazing heat throughout the night. This temperature divergence is a classic feature of great wine regions, lengthening the ripening period and setting the stage for complex fruit.

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