South African Wine Established Long Before Colonists Arrived

The lie of the wine culture having been brought to South Africa by white Dutch settlers has to be buried under the organic compost heap it deserves, says local political party EFF (Economic Freedom Fighters). Following a recent statement by EFF leader Julius Malema that the sport of rugby evolved in South Africa long before European colonization, the EFF’s Dr Sapling Mizipissi said sub-Saharan Africans were making wine centuries prior to Jan van Riebeeck and the Dutch East India Company landing at the Cape in 1652.

“Today the legacy of Van Riebeeck and his colonialist cohorts assume the misguided honour for beginning the vineyard planting and the winemaking in South Africa, when it is a fact indigenous peoples had been doing this long before the first Dutch ships landed,” says Dr Mizipissi, who is the EFF’s spokesperson for revisionist agriculture.

“By the time these settlers arrived, the local Khoisan people were already crafting wine from certified old vineyards, while in the Eastern Cape the black tribes had perfected the art of cold-fermentation on white grapes as well as presiding over a natural wine movement. Punch-downs with assegai heralded a revolution in tannin-extraction, for example. So, the current historians and wine companies must stop perpetuating the myth of Africa having had to wait for the colonialists before wine was made in South Africa. Wine is as African as, well, other African things.”

Khoi winemakers receive a collection of cellar material.

Official history marks the Cape wine industry as beginning on 2 February 1659 when Van Riebeeck oversaw the harvesting of the first wine grapes.

“Such lies need liberating, as while Van Riebeeck pressed his grapes in what is now Cape Town, the cool caves of Table Mountain already held wooden barrels of fine wine that had been created by generations of Khoi peoples,” says Dr Mizipissi. “In fact, in 1659 the indigenous folk were already holding a Khoisan Vigneron of the Year Competition, had a Khoi Winemakers Guild and were exporting wine to Zanzibar and Indonesia. This has all been obliterated from the annals of history by a European mind-set wishing to impose its insular superior thinking on the indigenous legacy of Africa.”

Dr Mizipissi says that Africa also had a major influence on the wine culture of various European countries. “When Bartholomeu Dias sailed around southern Africa in 1488 the Portuguese had no idea of what it is to fortify wine,” he says. “It was only after landing at Mossel Bay in the southern Cape and being invited by the local peoples to an ostrich barbecue that Dias was introduced to sweet wine strengthened with distilled spirits. Of course, he took a barrel back to Portugal with him, stole the technique of fortifying and since then that country has claimed status as the home of the Port wine. When this is totally an African thing.”

Asked about the grape varieties planted in pre-colonial South Africa, Dr Mizipissi said that as sons of the soil, Africans are the true masters of terroir.

Julius Malema hosting a vertical tasting of Domaine Bling-Bling wine.

“The indigenous vines of Africa were crossed with plants liberated from some French Catholic missionaries in the 9th century,” he says. “Using vines developed by massal selection as well as clones developed in the kraals of the Eastern Cape, Africans were spreading vines to selected sites over all South Africa identified by our masters of the soil. Three centuries before Van Riebeeck arrived, the pre-colonial, true winemakers were aging wine in barrels made from the yellow-wood and stinkhout trees, as well as doing skin-contact on white wines and fermenting with yeast strains grown in calabashes.”

Dr Mizipissi says the EFF will from 2024 be dispelling the myth of South African wine being the exclusive result of the white man’s endeavours since 1659.

“Comrade Malema is set to enlighten the world on the true history of wine in South Africa, underscoring the need for reviving the rich legacy of viticulture and winemaking here at the southern tip of Africa,” he says. “The EFF recently recovered some barrels of pre-colonial local wines such as Pinot Gwahr and Rhinotage from the great African vintages of 1346 and 1501. These will be presented at a tasting to international dignitaries attending the inauguration of newly-elected South African president Julius Malema who, as we all know, is the only person in the world to make his own history.”

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