SA needs to move on from 1659 and toast its wine alchemists more often

The Wine Enthusiast shortlist, including three South Africans, shows how little we celebrate our stars

27 October 2020 - 20:36 By Michael Fridjhon

The Cape wine industry doesn’t do a great job of celebrating its heroes. There are no “lifetime achievement awards”. The closest thing is a gong awarded annually on February 2 — the date, in 1659, when Jan van Riebeeck recorded the first crush of Cape-grown grapes.

The recipient of the 1659 Medal of Honour “should have demonstrated ... a pioneering, positive and significant contribution to the wine industry”. Laureates over the years (and there have been many deserving ones) have been almost exclusively male, white and Afrikaans-speaking. This alone should suggest that if there have been any trailblazers among them, they followed fairly well-trodden paths...

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