Five winemakers join CWG

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Membership of the Cape Winemakers Guild has increased to 41 leading South African winemakers after the induction of five new members this month.

The latest winemakers to have joined the association are Rianie Strydom (Haskell Vineyards), Andries Burger (Paul Cluver Estate Wines), Frans Smit (Spier Wines), Boela Gerber (Groot Constantia) and Pierre Wahl (Rijks Private Cellar).

"The credentials of our new members speak for themselves and their membership is a good reflection of the outstanding winemaking talent in South Africa," says guild chairman Johan Malan.

Rianie Strydom, who dominated the Tri Nations Wine Challenge last year by winning the Best Shiraz and Best Red Wine categories, is the 4th woman to have joined since the inception of the guild. She follows Janey Muller of Lemberg, Louise Hofmeyr of Welgemeend and Norma Ratcliffe of Warwick Wine Estate who is still actively involved in the guild today as a Keeper of the Key and a member of the protg programme steering committee.

Andries Burger, who has a string of top international awards to his name including two Decanter trophies and numerous five-star Platter wines, brings to the guild his technical expertise and practical approach to winemaking. He is a "constant student", keeping up to date with local and international winemaking techniques and trends.

Boela Gerber has won a string of awards for Groot Constantia, where he has been winemaker since 2001. These include the Trophy for Best South African White Wine at the 2009 International Wine Challenge, the Best Sauvignon and Best South African White Wine at last year's International Wine Competition for his 2008 sauvignon blanc and regular Swiss International Airlines awards. He is passionate about wine education and is involved in presenting wine courses for the Cape Wine Academy and smaller groups of wine enthusiasts.

Frans Smit graduated at the top of his class at Elsenburg Agriculture College in 1993 and has been the winemaker at Spier for 15 years. He has produced award-winning wines for Spier and increased the winemaking capacity from 20 000 to 250 000 cases.

Pierre Wahl is described by his peers as a young and dynamic winemaker who is a good team player and mentor for young winemakers. He also boasts numerous prestigious wine awards, including having his Rijk's Shiraz 2004 voted Best Wine On Show at the 2009 Michelangelo International Wine Awards.

Membership of the guild is by invitation only and is extended to winemakers who have been responsible for the production of outstanding wines for a minimum of five years, and who continue to do so.

"We had 39 members in 2008 and with our five new members, we actually only have two more members than we had two years ago. This brings us back on track with our long-term trajectory." adds Johan Malan. "There are still other winemakers out there who deserve to be guild members and we look forward to seeing them join the guild in the not too distant future".

The Cape Winemakers Guild is committed to raising standards and setting new world-class benchmarks for South African wines. Under the auspices of the Nedbank Cape Winemakers Guild Development Trust, the Guild runs various upliftment programmes in the winelands such as bursaries for secondary and tertiary education and the Protg Programme, a mentorship programme for young, aspirant winemakers.

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