The highly coveted SA Terroir Trophy for the Top Wine out of all the entries in all styles and cultivars, this year went to a five year-old Cabernet Sauvignon from Stellenbosch, the Alto Cabernet Sauvignon 2018. This estate wine was named overall winner from all 264 wines judged for the exclusive SA Terroir Wine Awards.

The top achiever of the 2023 SA Terroir Wine Awards with the highest number of top quality entries is Rietvallei Estate in Robertson, which thereby also boasts the highest number of top estate-produced wines.

Rietvallei not only received the SA Terroir Trophy for the Top Producer, but also for the third successive year walked away with the Trophy for the Top Estate. They entered two National Winners, namely the Rietvallei JMB Cabernet Franc 2019 and the top red blend, the Rietvallei Estéanna Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet Franc 2019, as well as six area winners in the Robertson District.

At the same time, this year’s top single-vineyard wine derives from the Elgin District – a wood-matured Chardonnay. A single-vineyard wine represents the most genuine expression of a terrain-driven wine from a specific soil and climate combination. Altogether 66 single-vineyard wines were judged this year and the SA Terroir Trophy for the Top Single-vineyard Wine was awarded to the Almenkerk Chardonnay 2020.

The fact that the unique Cape winelands can boast with the most versatile wine terrains worldwide, was this year once again emphasised at the 18th SA Terroir Wine Awards. The SA Terroir Trophy for the Top Area was awarded to the Malmesbury Ward in the Swartland. In this respect the most important contribution was made by Arbeidsgenot Wines in Riebeek-Kasteel (part of the Malmesbury Ward) which yielded three National Winners. It was actually Arbeidsgenot’s first participation in this showpiece competition, where their lesser-known cultivars excelled, i e the Arbeidsgenot Grenache Blanc 2022, Roussanne 2022 and Verdelho 2022.

The five SA Terroir Wine Awards trophies this year originated from four different wine terrains in the Cape winelands: Malmesbury, Robertson, Stellenbosch and Elgin. The national winners of all the styles and cultivars originated from more than 15 terrains in the Cape winelands and thereby really emphasised the variety of its terroir-driven wines.

“The diversity of our wine areas was once again proven at this year’s SA Terroir Wine Awards,” said Christo Pienaar, chairperson of the South African National Wine Show Association (SANWSA). “Quality is the core theme of the judging and it is significant to see year after year which terrains in our very special winelands deliver the best of which cultivars and styles.”

Altogether 35 wines achieved the standard points to be named National Winners.

The 2023 National Winner wines are:

  Cabernet Franc 2019 Rietvallei JMB Cabernet Franc
  Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 Alto Cabernet Sauvignon
  Cap Classique 2011 Lourensford Cap Classique Cuvée 124 Brut Zero
  Cape Style 2017 Stettyn Family Vineyards Cape Vintage
  Certified Heritage Vineyard Wine (Fortified) 2020 Muratie Ben Prins Cape Vintage
  Certified Heritage Vineyards Wine 2019 Old Road Wine Co. Stone Trail Chenin Blanc
  Chardonnay 2020 Almenkerk Chardonnay (wooded)
  Chenel 2021 Springfontein Terroir Selection Chenel (wooded)
  Chenin Blanc 2021 Bergsig Patmos Chenin Blanc Reserve (wooded)
  Cinsault 2022 Welbedacht Bakleiblok Cinsault
  Gewürztraminer 2023 Neethlingshof Estate Gewürztraminer
  Grenache Blanc 2022 Arbeidsgenot Grenache Blanc
  Grenache 2020 Saronsberg Grenache
  Low Alcohol Rosé NV Slanghoek Vinay Vin Rosé
  Malbec 2021 Vergenoegd Löw Malbec Valentina
  Merlot 2018 Meinert Merlot
  Mourvèdre 2020 Saronsberg Mourvèdre
  Muscadel 2015 Nuy Barbiri Idro Barrel Matured Red Muscadel
  NLH 2020 Benguela Cove Sauvignon Blanc NLH
  Petit Verdot 2021 Le Bonheur Petit Verdot
  Pinot Noir 2020 La Vierge Apogée Pinot Noir
  Pinotage 2020 Doolhof Single Vineyard Pinotage
  Red Blend   2019 Rietvallei Estéanna Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet Franc
  Rosé 2023 Eerste Hoop Blushing Bride Rosé
  Roussanne 2022 Arbeidsgenot Roussanne
  Sauvignon Blanc 2021 Lutzville Vineyards Diamond Collection Sauvignon Blanc
  Sémillon 2020 Benguela Cove Catalina Sémillon (wooded)
  Shiraz 2021 De Grendel Op die Berg Syrah
  Straw Wine 2022 Villa Esposto Muscat d’Alexandrie Straw Wine
  Tannat 2021 Kranskop SV Tannat
  Touriga Naçional 2022 Boplaas Touriga Naçional
  Verdelho 2022 Arbeidsgenot Verdelho
  Viognier 2022 Deetlefs Signature Viognier
  Weisser Riesling 2020 Bergsig Weisser Riesling
  White Cultivar Blend 2022 Flagstone Treaty Tree Sauvignon Blanc/Sémillon (wooded)

This year’s judges were Jeff Grier (chairperson) Cape Winemaster from Villiera; Elunda Basson, cellarmaster of Steenberg; Conrad Louw, regular lecturer at the Cape Wine Academy and Cape Winemaster; Anton Swarts, senior winemaker at Spier and Cape Winemaster, and Janine van Zyl, a qualified sommelier engaged in her Cape Winemaster Studies.

During the awards function at the well-known Lanzerac Hotel in Stellenbosch, the 50th anniversary of the Wine of Origin Scheme officially implemented on 1 September 1973 was toasted. A scroll of recognition was handed over at the function to Olivia Poonah, Executive manager of the Wine and Spirit Board that controls the WO scheme.

The SA Terroir competition has its origin thanks to the WO scheme’s system of single-vineyard, estate and ward, this also being the foundation of the competition. South Africa’s WO scheme is recognised globally as a leading system aimed at verifying the integrity of the wine in the bottle and confirming claims made on the label.

In addition to the trophies and national wines awarded, the top wines from the various areas are also named. Highlights of the function are to be aired on the TV programme Ontbytsake on Saturday 2 September.

DSTV kykNet’s Ontbytsake is one of the three financial partners which this year again supports the SA Terroir Wine Awards, along with WinField United South Africa and   SA Litho.

The full results are available on the website

The Sponsors

Winfield United South Africa drives partnerships and innovative solutions and projects to future-proof agriculture in South Africa. One of the projects which WUSA recently completed, is the Climate Smart Agriculture Project. Under this project Metos SA, a Winfield United SA company, installed more than 200 weather stations across the Western Cape to continuously log environmental conditions. This data can be used by producers to aid on-farm decision-making and is also utilised by TerraClim to model climate change in this province at a higher resolution. The wine industry is characterised by a strong focus on the climatic influences impacting on it.

Jan Vermaak, CEO of WinField United South Africa, says, “Our partnership with the SA Terroir competition is the first step to becoming involved with South Africa’s choice wines, right from the vineyard to the end-product.”

SA Litho Label Printers, in turn, believes a great product is nothing without great packaging. In today’s highly competitive retail environment, leaving a lasting impression on your customers means making your first one really counts. As industry leaders, SA Litho Label Printers combines advanced technology with ingenuity to produce quality packaging and print solutions that ensure your brand owns the shelf.

“We are proud to partner up with the SA Terroir Wine Awards, where the high quality and uniqueness of the wine region’s terroir is celebrated along with the winemaking process,” says Dawrian Salies, general manager of SA Litho Label Printers.

Regarding Ontbytsake as partner, their programme is seen as the ideal platform to promote business which is close to the new owners’ hearts. These ‘heartfelt’ matters include promoting tourism and associated industries like wine production and promotion. Thus, extensive exposure is given weekly on Ontbytsake, kykNET channels 144 and 145, to several wine producers entering the SA Terroir Awards, including new entrants in South Africa, but at a fraction of the normal airing costs.

“By joining as sponsor and also giving exposure to the SA Terroir competition, we give viewers the opportunity to get to know choice wines and thereby also acknowledge the winemakers for their extraordinary abilities,” says Louis Mclaren, owner and executive producer.


Terroir is the basis by which the natural environment’s elements like soil, topography and climate combine to produce different unique tastes and characters of wines grown in the same location.

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