The finalists for the 39th Diners Club Winemaker and 19th Young Winemaker of the Year awards have been announced. Five winemakers have been shortlisted to compete for the prestigious Winemaker of the Year award, while five will vie for the Young Winemaker of the Year title.
Diners Club introduced the Winemaker of the Year award in 1981 to encourage local winemakers to raise the standard of wines produced in South Africa. 18 years later the Young Winemaker of the Year award was established to encourage winemakers under the age of 30 to develop their skills, express their individuality, and add to the future prestige of South African wines internationally. The awards focus on quality and recognition of excellence and are regarded as the country’s most prestigious and well-respected wine industry competition.
The competition is open to all in the South African wine industry at no cost, affording all winemakers a shot at the sought-after titles. While other awards focus on just the wine, the Diners Club Winemaker and Young Winemaker of the Year awards celebrate the skills and talent of the vintners. The awards are presented to the winemakers who produce a wine that the judging panel considers to be the best in a specified class. The categories for 2019 are Pinot Noir wines for Winemaker of the Year, and White Wines of any varietal or blend for Young Winemaker of the Year. As in previous years, winemakers can be shortlisted for more than one submission.
The field was narrowed down to the ten finalists through rigorous judging over two days by a team of wine gurus, including renowned international judge, Nigel Greening. All the judges agree that it will be a close race for the top prize, a clear indication that the finalist wines are outstanding. Judges examined each wine evaluating appearance, aroma, taste, aftertaste and overall impression.
Winemaker of the Year category: Pinot Noir
Jacques De Klerk – Radford Dale – 2018 Radford Dale Freedom Pinot Noir
Richard Kershaw – Kershaw Wines – 2018 Clonal Selection Elgin Pinot Noir & 2018 Hemel-en-Aarde Ridge Pinot Noir
Daniel Keulder – Nitida – 2017 Nitida Pinot Noir
Jean-Claude Martin – Creation Wines – 2018 Creation Estate Pinot Noir
Peter De Wet – De Wetshof – 2017 Nature in Concert Pinot Noir
Young Winemaker of the Year category: White Wines
Rudger van Wyk – Stark-Condé Wines – 2018 Field Blend
Tim Whitfield – Tokara – 2019 Sauvignon Blanc
Thys Smit – Grande Provence – 2018 Grande Provence Chardonnay and 2018 Grande Provence Chenin Blanc
James Ochse – Stellenbosch Hills – 2017 Kastanjeberg
Herman Du Preez – Stellenrust – 2018 The Apprentice White Cinsault
The 2019 Diners Club Winemaker of the Year judges
Nigel Greening – International judge
Debi Van Flymen
The winners of both the Winemaker and the Young Winemaker of the Year awards will be presented at a black-tie gala dinner at La Residence Hotel in Franschhoek on 23 November 2019. The winning winemaker receives R50 000 and the Young Winemaker R25 000.