East, west, home best when it comes to wine

Back when KWV wines were available only for export, a myth evolved that the best SA wines were never enjoyed in the domestic market, except by the organisation’s members, MPs and a few insiders.

Our best fruit was airfreighted to hard-currency customers, so this idea had a ring of truth to it.
In the glory days of Cloete’s Constantia (late 18th to early 19th century) the entire production of the estate was sold via the Dutch East India Company at auctions in Amsterdam.

But that’s the only case about which one can say with certainty that the best of Cape wines were not available to domestic consumers (unless they were willing to bid at the Amsterdam sale).

Judging from the comments of visitors to the Cape and critics about what was sent in bulk to the UK between 1850 and 1950, it’s unlikely that overseas consumers did better than those at home.
When isolation ended 20 or so years ago, most demand in international markets has been for high-volume commercial blends, rather than our finest wines.


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