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Darling

Darling is a coastal wine producing region in the Western Cape of South Africa, just 40 miles (65km) north of Cape Town. Its close proximity to the Atlantic coast, seven miles (11km) to the west, and its moderately dry climate lend the region to the production of unique, cool climate-style wines made from Sauvignon Blanc and Shiraz.

Darling's climate is heavily influenced by the Atlantic Ocean. The Benguela Current that runs up the west coast of Africa provides cooling winds that sweep through the vineyards in the afternoons. The ocean also provides early morning fog, which delivers moisture to the vineyards. The area is also subject to a significant diurnal temperature variation, where hot days are followed by colder evenings. This allows the grapes a chance to cool down at night, helping them to retain their acidity while still developing complex flavours.

Growers in Darling have adapted to poor quality soils and low rainfall by planting bush vines. These thrive here because they are more resistant to drought and grow deeper root systems.

The ancient soils of decomposed granite do not retain water well, and the vines therefore have to reach deeper to find moisture. Some have roots as deep as 25ft (8m). Bush vines are also naturally low yielding, meaning the fruit has more concentration, which leads to greater complexity in the wine.

One of Darling's signature varieties is Shiraz, which is traditionally associated with bush vines in its native Rhône Valley (where it is known as Syrah). Darling’s other top performing grape, Sauvignon Blanc, is also extensively planted as a bush vine. This makes the wineries in Darling unique – almost nowhere else in the world grows Sauvignon Blanc bush vines.

The region's wine estates sit on the rolling hills that surround the small town of Darling. The slopes face all manner of directions, allowing growers to position their vineyards in a way that will make the most of ocean breezes coming in from the Atlantic. Wines of Darling have garnered international acclaim in the past 10 years, particularly the intense and unusual styles made from bush vine Sauvignon Blanc.

Darling was separated from Swartland in the Wine of Origin scheme in 2003, after a consensus that the wines produced here were distinctive enough to merit acknowledgment. Bush vine Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chenin Blanc are also planted extensively in the area.
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