Wine on wings.
South African wines have a very distinctive character. To preserve this on the journey from Cape Town to San Francisco, they travel on board Lufthans a Cargo.
Wine from South Africa enjoys an excellent reputation around the world.
In recent years the high-quality wines from the Cape have positioned themselves as an independent category with the label “Wine of Origin”. What frequently distinguishes these wines is the fruity elegance of the whites, and how pleasant the full-bodied reds are after just a few years. Wine is a living, breathing product. A lengthy journey would alter the complex yet delicate flavours. For this reason, these noble wines from South Africa make their way around the globe by plane. The rainbow nation at the southern tip of Africa takes pride in its modern, quality-conscious wine-growing industry meanwhile covering an acreage of about 102,000 hectares. The history of Cape wine began as far back as 1655, when Dutch settlers planted the first vines on the slopes of Table Mountain on orders from the Dutch East India Company.
The wine was intended as provisions for the company’s seafarers journeying between Europe and the East Indies – wine stays drinkable longer than water. While the first barrels were likely of dubious quality – those Dutch settlers were seafarers after all – the first governor of Cape Town, Jan van Riebeeck, did enter one euphoric note in his diary, on 2 February 1659: “Today, praise the Lord, wine was made from grapes grown in the Cape for the first time, and the young grape must was tasted straight from the barrel.” After the Dutch, the Huguenots arrived at the Cape of Good Hope. Along with them they brought their wine-making expertise and experience from France. One of the oldest and most famous wine-growing regions in South Africa is Stellenbosch, about 50 kilometers south of Cape Town.
The region’s vineyards, over 120 in number, are renowned for the high-quality wine they export.
There is steady demand from around the globe – even from places as distant as San Francisco, some 16,500 kilometers away. Even though the Napa Valley, one of the main regions where grapes for Californian wine are cultivated, is located just outside the gates of the metropolis on the Pacific, many wine buffs still swear by the produce from the Cape of Good Hope. From the wine estates in the Stellenbosch region the wine is trucked over dusty tracks to Cape Town. At the Lufthansa Cargo warehouse at Cape Town International Airport (CPT), a special temperature-controlled place is set aside for this precious cargo at all times. Five days a week, a Lufthansa Airbus A340-600, flight number LH575, flies from South Africa to Munich, a trip of just under eleven-and-a-half hours – carrying the boxes of wine shipped as a td.Pro consignment.
At Franz Josef Strauss Airport, the exquisite cargo is then placed in the hold of an aircraft of the same type, this time on flight number LH458 to San Francisco (SFO). Another twelve and a half hours later, after a flight across the Atlantic, Iceland, Greenland and vast stretches of Canada, the boxes filled with bottles of wine reach their destination in California. Next is the mandatory inspection by customs and by the Food and Drug Administration, which is responsible for food safety in the United States. It would have taken the seafarers of the Dutch East India Company many months to complete such a long journey; thanks to the efficient Lufthansa Cargo network, the precious cargo from the Cape usually travels half-way around the world within a couple of days.