Women panellists name trophy winners at SA Women’s Wine & Spirit Awards 2020

Tuesday, 1 December, 2020
SA Women’s Wine & Spirit Awards 2020
The 2020 SA Women’s Wine & Spirit Awards discovered some gems worth seeking out amongst the wines, spirits and liqueurs entered, and crowned the Woman Winemaker of the Year, Woman Distiller of the Year, Méthode Cap Classique of the Year and Sparkling wine of the Year.

The fifth SA Women’s Wine & Spirit Awards took place much later than originally anticipated. Michelle Grimbeek, the convenor of judges and her team welcomed the all-women panel on the morning of 19 November at the Nietvoorbij campus in Stellenbosch. A short briefing followed the necessary photo sessions, and then the judges were hard at work. Apart from the wine panels, a specialised spirits and liqueur panel was selected to ensure that the cream rose to the top during the gruelling double-blind tastings.

In partnering with Spiegelau, SA Women’s Wine and Spirit Awards could assure that panellists taste from truly superior stemware. The tasting was done using the Spiegelau Expert Tasting glasses, designed and made for exactly this purpose.

The aim of the annual competition is to find worthy wines, spirits and liqueurs judged by all-female panels, and to award the best products entered.

We know that women make up the biggest segment of the wine and spirit drinking. Women are also overwhelmingly the main buyers of wine on a global scale.

SA Women’s Wine & Spirit Awards is the only competition solely judged by women to make recommendations on what to buy and is becoming increasingly important as a marketing tool.

Trophy winners

Woman Winemaker of the Year:

Danielle Coetsee from Boschendal received the trophy for Woman Winemaker of the Year.

“All the people I have worked with along the way have had an influence on me and my style and technique of winemaking. Winemaking is rarely a one (wo)man show and requires help and support from many people and suppliers”.

Woman Distiller of the Year:

Riana Macdougall from The Noble Experiment received the trophy for Woman Distiller of the Year.

“The best thing about my job is the smelling and the tasting, putting my nose in everything!  I love sharing my story and my passion. To stay on top of the game you constantly need to research international trends adding your own unique spin on them, making them more South African, to represent this beautiful place we call home.”

Trophy for Méthode Cap Classique of the Year:

Anthonij Rupert Wines received the Trophy for Méthode Cap Classique of the Year for their L`Ormarins Blanc de Blanc 2013.

“I am continuously inspired by all the women in the wine industry who juggle winemaking with their roles as wives and mothers.” - Anthonij Rupert Wines, Méthode Cap Classique Winemaker, Zanie Viljoen.

From left to right: Danielle Coetsee from Boschendal received the trophy for Woman Winemaker of the Year, Riana Macdougall from The Noble Experiment received the trophy for Woman Distiller of the Year and Anthonij Rupert Wines, Méthode Cap Classique Winemaker, Zanie Viljoen and Alvi van der Merwe of Alvi’s Drift Wines received the Trophy for Sparkling wine of the Year


Trophy for Sparkling wine of the Year:

Alvi’s Drift Wines received the Trophy for Sparkling wine of the Year for their Alvi’s Drift Blanc de Blanc 2020.

“We have so many wonderful winemakers and we have a wonderful team of winemakers at Alvi’s Drift. If I may single out one person, it would however be my wife Junel (a Cape Wine Master and a Chevalier of Champagnes). Her love of champagne and sparkling wines has always been a motivation for our success!”

Judging during the 2020 tasting

The 2020 team that made it all possible.

The judges on the wine panel were Lisa du Toit, Wanda Cronje CWM, Tanja Beutler, Erika van Zyl, Esme Groenewald and Nadia Hefer. The judges on the spirit and liqueur panel were Dr Caroline Snyman CWM, Manzi Sishi and Marené de Beer.

Wine entries

Panellists were extremely impressed with the quality of entries in this year’s SA Women’s Wine & Spirit Awards. The biggest category was sparkling wines, followed by Sauvignon blanc and red blends.

The sparkling wines that were not bottle fermented showed very well, generally being fruit forward with balanced acidity and weight to them, sometimes rivalling some of the Méthode Cap Classique wines.

The Méthode Cap Classique wines had some beautiful older examples that showed wonderfully restrained development for their age. The acidity was good throughout and there was a wide selection to choose from.

Chenin blanc did well and the quality was good throughout, especially the 2020 vintage. There were some particularly good examples that were very expressive, and where wood was used, it was done with restraint and balance.

Chardonnay also did well with beautiful balanced wines, especially the 2019 vintage. The Chardonnay class was however overshadowed with the super 2020 Sauvignon blanc wines.

The Sauvignon blanc 2020 really shone, showing great varietal expression. Most seemed to be from cooler climates showing off its characteristic beauty with style. Generally, the wines were very well balanced with lots of varietal character and balanced acidity. Sauvignon blanc was the single variety white wine that impressed the most.

The Rosé / Blanc de noir showed a huge variance in style, with some expressive wines, fresh fruitiness consistency in quality and a strong style movement towards salmon colour.

Spirit entries

SA Women’s Wine & Spirit Awards saw an immense growth in the number of spirits entered. Entries ranged from Eau de Vie, Absinthe to grappa, gin, rum, and whisky.

The entries in the gin category grew exponentially during 2020. There was a huge diversity in style, especially in the new Styles gin. There was a particular emphasis in a number of entries towards cucumber and citrus driven styles, with some very interesting floral spicy ones in between. There were good citrus examples that showed some excellent dried citrus notes. The new style gin category showed well, and it seems that distillers are innovating and setting new boundaries.

The general gin category impressed with some interesting complex candy/ floral, layered notes.

The vodkas were of good quality and very enjoyable. There were some great grappa examples, yielding powerful aroma and flavour. There were also some interesting rum and whisky entered. The liqueurs entered, varied a lot in style and quality.

We want to thank our partners in making this event possible:

Details about the 2021 SA Women’s Wine & Spirit Awards will be announced in the last week of January 2021.

For enquiries, visit the website at www.sawwa.co.za, or email Sanet at general@sawwa.co.za.



Danielle Coetsee
Danielle Coetsee

Riana Macdougall
Riana Macdougall

Zanie Viljoen
Zanie Viljoen

Alvi van der Merwe
Alvi van der Merwe

The 2020 judges
The 2020 judges









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