Durbanville is a hilly wine-producing area on the northern outskirts of Cape Town in South Africa. It is one of the country's coolest wine-producing regions, and flinty, herbaceous Sauvignon Blanc is the most important style of wine produced from the grapes grown here.
The vineyards of Durbanville sit among the Tygerberg Hills in a valley that runs from north to south. False Bay is 16 miles (26km) south of the valley, and the west coast just eight miles (13km) away. Intense sunshine in Durbanville is tempered by the cooling southerly breezes from False Bay that are funneled up through the valley in the afternoons. Vineyards rise between 820ft and 1300ft (250m and 400m), which also serves to lower the temperature of the region. These climate-moderating factors have enough of an effect on the average temperatures in the area that Durbanville wines are characteristically cool-climate in style.
The gently rolling terrain provides different microclimates, and growers have a wide choice of aspect, slope and exposure to suit their viticultural needs. Higher vineyards that are more exposed to the wind are often several degrees cooler than those in the more-sheltered valleys. The shadows of the hills also serve as a cooling influence. Typically, white-wine varieties are planted on the shaded north-facing slopes and red-wine grapes on the sunnier south-facing slopes.
The majority of the rainfall in Durbanville comes in the cold winter months, allowing the water table to replenish while the vines lie dormant. Well-drained shale soils with good water retention mean that very little irrigation is needed over the summer, and many growers prefer to forgo it completely.
The town of Durbanville sprung up around a local spring in the 17th Century. It initially served as a rest and refreshment point for people traveling from Cape Town to the trading posts in the north. As traffic grew, so did the town, and vineyards planted in Durbanville were producing wine as early as 1702. In the 20th Century, Durbanville has become a part of the larger Cape Town urban area.