The historical town of Stellenbosch boasts a winemaking tradition which stretches back to the end of the 17th-century.
Stellenbosch is the educational and research centre of the winelands. Stellenbosch University is the only one in South Africa with a viticultural and oenological department, and many of the country's most successful winemakers studied there. The Nietvoorbij Institute of Viticulture and Oenology is also in Stellenbosch and this organisation has one of the most modern experimental wineries in the world and, at its experimental farms (situated in several wine growing districts), important research into new varietals, clones and rootstocks is undertaken.
The mountainous terrain, good rainfall, deep well-drained soils and diversity of terroirs make this a sought-after viticultural area. The rapidly increasing number of wine estates includes some of the most famous names in Cape wine. The district, with its mix of historic estates and contemporary wineries, produces excellent examples of almost all the noble grape varieties.
The intensively farmed Stellenbosch district has been divided up into several smaller viticultural pockets including Jonkershoek Valley, Papegaaiberg, Simonsberg-Stellenbosch, Bottelary, Devon Valley and Banghoek.