The origin of planting and growing grapes in North and South Africa is unknown. Grape vines were planted in Mediterranean climates of South Africa around 1650's and North African countries of Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria produced 60% of the worlds wine until the late 1950's.
In North Africa, Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria played an important role in the history of wine. Algeria's vinicultural history dates back to its settlement by the Phoenicians and continued under Algeria's rule by the Roman Empire. Winemaking continued in Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria until the Muslim conquests of North Africa in the 7th and 8th centuries.
The main wine-producing areas in Morocco are located in the Atlas Mountains region, Benslimane and Meknès. The main wine-producing areas in Algeria is located in the provinces of Aïn Témouchent, Mascara, Mostaganem, Sidi Bel Abbès, and Tlemcen. The main wine-producing areas in Tunisia are located in Arianah, Nabul and Sousse regions. Cabo Verde Chã das Caldeiras in the crater of the volcano Pico do Fogo region also produces excellent export-quality wines.
Many Muslim government officials thought it was unacceptable for an Islamic country to be so economically dependent on alcohol production and encouraged vineyard owners to convert their land into other agricultural crops such as cereal or table grapes.
More than 80% of table grape production in South Africa occurs in the Western Cape region. Popular grape varieties in South Africa are Barlinka, Bonheur, Dauphine, Waltham Cross, Alphonse Lavallée, Red Globe, La Rochelle, Sunred Seedless, Thompson Seedless, and Sultanas. Some grapes contain as high as 30% of sugar or as low as 10%.
Chenin Blanc is the most widely planted wine grape variety in the Cape, with increasing quality of both dry and sweet styles. Other major white varieties include Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and Viognier.
Grapes are a fruit, true berries with small, round to oblong and consisting of four seeds. Berries are often covered with a greyish, bluish, or whitish waxy coating or bloom that is easily rubbed off, having a fine layer of wax on the surface. The skin of the grape is thin and is the source of the anthocyanin compounds that give rise to red, blue, purple and black to dark purple colored grapes.
Green and yellow skinned grape cultivars are often termed white grapes. Most grapes are woody, climbing vines. Grapes can be eaten fresh or dried or enjoyed in the form of juice and wine.
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Muscadine grapes differ from other grape cultivars because it has thick skin, which is sometimes bitter and tough. The fruit of the muscadine ripens one by one and detaches from the plant at maturity. The berries detach from the vine with a dry stem scar unlike bunch grapes, which remain attached to the cluster at maturity.