Pinotage is South Africa’s signature grape variety. It is grown almost exclusively there, making everything from low-quality table wines to rich, concentrated wines with flavors of black and red fruits, spice, leather and chocolate. Pinotage has suffered from a bad reputation for much of its life, but determined South African producers are currently seeking to reverse this trend with thoughtful viticultural and winemaking processes.
The variety, a crossing of Pinot Noir and Cinsaut, was first bred by scientist Abraham Perold in 1925, although the few seeds the crossing yielded were planted in his garden and consequently forgotten. The vines were found by another researcher some years later, grafted onto disease-resistant rootstocks and the first commercial plantings were made in 1943. The name Pinotage is a portmanteau of its two parents, as Cinsaut was then known in South Africa as Hermitage.
California wineries producing Pinotage include Illuminare in Camino.