362 Years of South African Wine: A grateful celebration

By Renate Engelbrecht

Thursday, Feb 04

It was my first time to be invited to the annual Wine Harvest Commemorative Event. It was also the first time they have had to do it virtually. The current situation of the crippled economy has had a devastating effect on the South African wine industry and still, the annual Wine Harvest Commemorative Event of 2 February 2021 focused solely on celebration of 362 years of the vine.

Although virtual, the vibe of the vineyards was tangible and I wished that I was there, smelling the soil of Groot Constantia, drinking the wine of the winners. At this year’s Wine Harvest Commemorative Event – an emotional, yet positive and inspiring event – the vine, the wine and its people were celebrated and for a moment, I felt excitement rush through my bones. This year CAN be a good year.

Prayer of blessing on the harvest

During the event, South Africa’s rich wine history and the South African wine industry’s 362nd birthday was commemorated, with a humble prayer that suitably kicked off the event. Furthermore, some of South Africa’s best wine talent was celebrated with four very special awards:

The Diversity and Transformation Award went to Ntsiki Biyela from Aslina Wines. Ntsiki is the first black female winemaker in South Africa. She named Aslina Wines after her grandmother and her wines have received numerous awards internationally.


The Wine Appreciation and Wine Advancement Award was given to Michael Fridjhon. He has over 4 decades of wine experience and being one of the most widely consulted liquor industry authorities, he is often described as the wine wizard of South Africa. Fridjhon is also a brilliant wine writer and he teaches and directs the Wine Judging Academy, run in association with UCT’s Graduate School of Business.

Johan Reyneke from Reyneke Wines received the Viticulture and Wine Creation Award. He is a pioneer in organic wine farming with the farm, Uitzicht, boasting organic and biodynamic vineyards. Tim Atkin recently named Reyneke Grower of the Year.

Last, but definitely not least, the event celebrated the Prince of Pinotage with The 1659 Award for Visionary Leadership. Beyers Truter, owner of Beyerskloof Wine Farms is no stranger to anyone who loves wine. He has suitably been dubbed Mr Pinotage or Prince of Pinotage on numerous occasions and with good reason. He started as winemaker at Kanonkop at the age of 25 and has built a reputation of being a true wine legend who placed South Africa’s pinotage varietal on the map, globally.

I wish the wine industry well in their 2021 journey. Coming out of a year filled with uncertainty and going into what might be another year of uncertainty, I truly hope that we get the opportunity to support them as we should. Happy birthday, Wine South Africa and congratulations to all the winners of these inspirational awards!




  1. Professional cyclist sold everything to make wine in SA | Suitcase and Chardonnay - […] OTHER AWARD-WINNING WINE MAKERS TO KEEP TABS ON […]

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