South African banking group to support search for SA’s Woman Winemaker of the Year

Wednesday, 19 May, 2004
Lorman Communications
Judging commences on Tuesday, May 25th, 2004
South Africa’s first exclusive award for women wine makers, the Woman Winemaker of the Year, received the support of the Absa group this week when the financial group announced its co-sponsorship of the new competition.

Together with the event’s two other sponsors, the Cellars Hohenort Hotel in Cape Town (venue sponsor) and Media 24 publication, Landbouweekblad (media sponsor), this sponsorship will ensure that the winner of this year’s award will be able to travel to the south of France to gain experience and to network with other woman winemakers.

In support of the competition, which ties in perfectly with Absa’s policy of supporting women in business, Absa AgriBusiness senior manager, Venete Klein, noted that women winemakers have started emerging as winners in major wine competitions only during the past decade. These women are increasingly becoming decision makers within their working environs and form an important part of the business culture in their cellar or estate.

'We are very excited about our involvement in the Women Winemaker of the Year Awards, whereby we would like to honour the outstanding women in the South African wine industry.’ 

The panel, which will determine South Africa’s first Woman Winemaker of the Year, will consist of Dutch wine writer and international wine judge, Janna Rijpma-Meppelink and local wine personalities Norma Ratcliffe of Warwick Estate, Cape Wine Academy director Marilyn Cooper, chef-sommelier at the Cellars Hohenort Hotel in Cape Town Tatiana Marcetteau, and wine writer, wine consultant and former Cape Wine Academy principal, Christine Rudman

‘What always crosses my mind when a woman is producing (wine) is that she is not so eager to tell the whole world - she is just doing her job! The affection with wine is more, let’s say, a kind of mother and child relationship.’ - Janna Rijpma-Meppelink

‘Although their numbers are still small, woman winemakers are making their mark in South Africa. You have only to look at Ronell Wiid becoming Diners Club Winemaker of the Year in 1999, or the Norma Ratcliffe triumph of Warwick Chardonnay being judged top wine at the Tri-Nation challenge in Australia, to realise that the talent is there, not only to make good wine, but the best.

'This is a far cry from Janey Muller's desperate attempts to get winemaking experience in the 1970's, and finally persuading Lievland to take her on as an unpaid cellar-hand, because nobody would give her a job. A woman was thought incapable of doing the physical work that goes with winemaking. Janey, and the increasing numbers of women winemakers since, have, of course, disproved that theory.

'I believe this competition will give additional recognition to the quiet revolution that has been happening in the wine industry, where the gender composition of cellars is changing. It will judge the depth of winemaking skill, not just one wine, and as such will be a true measure of the talent and ability of our woman winemakers.’ - Christine Rudman

‘Competition among women winemakers in South Africa is not so much an issue of the sexes. It is recognizing that competitions are essential in raising industry standards and awareness. Medal winners establish a benchmark of quality, which, when released with their medal, enable wine consumers to be more conscious of the wide variety of high quality wine available. Competitions expose winemakers to many high profile overseas and local judges, creating invaluable exposure for the South African wine industry and the talented faces behind it.

'South Africa should grasp any opportunity to springboard our winemakers into the spotlight through competition. What can we lose if it means broadening the selection and scope of winemakers and consumers in SA?’ - Marilyn Cooper

‘I have always been convinced that women have a more delicate nose and palate and that we are more sensitive to floral scents, fruit and spices, while men are more receptive to animal scents, richness and tannin. Will this competition make a difference to the consumer? I’m not sure, since the public seems more interested in grape variety than the producer, but it will go a long way in encouraging more woman to join what is predominately a man’s profession.’ - Tatiana Marcetteau

Judging commences on Tuesday, 25 May with the judging of the wines entered by the winemakers. South Africa’s first Woman Wine Maker of the Year will be announced at a function in the Manor House at the Cellar Hohenort hotel on Friday evening, 28 May.

Tickets are available at R50,00 per person from the organisers or at the door from 17:30 on the 28th.

The award is being initiated by Lorraine Immelman-Steyn of Lorman Communications cc, also the founder/organiser of the Michelangelo International Wine Awards, currently in its 8th year. The organisers are aiming to create a platform for women winemakers to show off not only their skills as winemakers but to highlight the special qualities a woman brings to the age-old art of wine making. This competition further aims to put South Africa on a par with other wine-producing countries that acknowledge the women in this industry and earn international recognition for our local woman wine makers through networking with other wine producing countries who run wine competitions for women, such as Spain, Argentina and the USA.

Prepared by: Lorman Communications cc
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