Top wine producing countries in the world

Get to know three of the world’s top wine-producing regions

France and Italy are among the world’s top wine-producing regions, with South Africa following hot on their heels. Let us delve into the history of wine, as well as into the important cultivars in each of these countries.

France

When we think of French wine, the Bordeaux or Burgundy wine regions immediately come to mind. But did you know the Greeks produced the first “juice of the gods?” From Greece, the winemaking process spread to Italy, where the Romans refined and organised it for other potential wine-producers to follow suit. The Roman churches played a significant role in the safekeeping of vineyards after the fall of Rome, since vines were planted and grown on churches’ grounds that were saved from destruction. During the Middle Ages when tradition was honoured and passed from one generation to the next, the knowledge and skill of winemaking eventually found its way to France, but it was during the rule of Napoleon in the 19th Century that wine-making became popular.

Over many centuries, France has set the benchmark for producing excellent wine and has produced more quality wines than any other country. What affords France the ability to produce world-quality wine is its unique geography, favourable grape-growing conditions and winemaking law called the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée system.

France’s grape cultivars:

  • Muscat
  • Pinot Gris
  • Pinot Noir
  • Riesling
  • Chenin Blanc
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Syrah
  • Chardonnay

France’s wine-producing regions:

  • Languedoc
  • The Loire Valley
  • The Northern Rhône
  • The Southern Rhône
  • Burgundy
  • Champagne

The world's top wine-producing countries

Italy

Italy has always been renowned for its rich winemaking history. In fact, the Greeks called Italy “Oenotria,” which means the “land of wine.”  Viticulture spread and advanced when Roman legions planted vineyards throughout the Roman Empire but it was the churches that kept grape cultivation and wine production alive after Rome’s fall. In fact, it wasn’t uncommon for priests at that time to produce vats of wine to use during holy ceremonies. Wine consumption in Italy is so widespread that there are almost 1 000 000 wine producers and nearly 1000 wine grape cultivars grown in many regions of the country, from the Alps in the north to the islands in the south.

Italy’s grape cultivars:

  • Sangiovese
  • Pinot Grigio
  • Trebbiano
  • Montepulciano
  • Catarratto
  • Merlot
  • Barbera

Italy’s wine regions:

  • Friuli-Venezia Giulia
  • Piedmont
  • Trentino-Alto Adige
  • Tuscany
  • The Veneto
  • The Abruzzi
  • Apulia (Puglia)
  • Basilicata
  • Campania
  • Emilia Romagna
  • Latium
  • Liguria
  • Lombardy
  • The Marches
  • Molise
  • Sardinia
  • Sicily
  • Umbria
  • Valle d’Aosta

The world's top wine-producing regions

South Africa

Jan van Riebeeck, who came to the Cape of Good Hope on board a Dutch East India Trading Company ship, was the first person to introduce grapevines to the region, although it was Simon van der Stel who planted the first vineyard on the gentle, fertile slopes of Groot Constantia. The success of viticulture in the Cape paved the way for the French Huguenots who settled in Franschhoek, not far from Cape Town. They brought with them the knowledge and skills needed to produce wine. The need for wine production gained importance as a result of vineyards planted in Stellenbosch, Paarl and Wellington. These areas provided ideal conditions for grape cultivation. Over time, the French Huguenots’ viticulture expertise continued to develop and spread to other areas of the Cape, such as Robertson, Walker Bay and the Swartland.

Today, South Africa (most notably the Western Cape) is a land of opportunity as far as viticulture is concerned. Farmers are experimenting with different grape cultivars and wine-makers are applying new techniques to the winemaking process to produce top-quality wine.

South Africa’s grape cultivars:

  • Pinotage
  • Merlot
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Chardonnay
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Cabernet franc
  • Shiraz
  • Muscat
  • Sémillon
  • Chenin Blanc
  • Riesling

South Africa’s wine producing areas:

  • Constantia
  • Paarl
  • Stellenbosch
  • Franschhoek
  • Breede River Valley
  • Swartland
  • Walker Bay
  • Wellington

The world's top wine-producing countries

If you’re ever in South Africa, why not try a Two Oceans wine? Their range on offer is a proudly South African wine export that has become one of the country’s favourite wines.




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