The premodern history of grape varieties in SA is shrouded in mystery. Early records were sketchy and in those days cultivars were known by different names in different regions.

The first vines imported at the request of Jan van Riebeeck were sourced by the Dutch East India Company, headquartered in Amsterdam. The Lords XVII would no doubt have sent an agent — with no knowledge about viticulture — to buy some vines for shipment to the Cape. The first consignment was pretty much dead on arrival. The second batch did quite well, and may have provided the basic planting material for the country's vineyards for several generations.

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