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Judges

Judging is performed by a panel of experts who are regularly exposed to all the wines from our districts.

The experienced panel initially taste blind to test quality and then rank entrants in the finals where the regional winners compete.

“Because it’s all about terroir, the wines are judged according to quality combined with distinctive characteristics created by the soil and climate in the specific area. It was clear that the winemakers did a lot of work with these wines to portray their origin without sacrificing quality. Only the terrain and a dedicated viticulturist and winemaker can produce these results,” Charl Theron

Dave Hughes

Sandile Mkhwanazi

He was assistant winemaker and acting viticulturist at Elsenburg Agricultural Institute for 2 years. Had a harvest stint in Bordeaux at Château Siran as well as a yearlong internship at Groot Constantia as a student winemaker. He studied B.Sc Viticulture and Oenology at the University of Stellenbosch. Sandile was a journalist for South Africa’s Wineland magazine and served on the magazine’s panel for judging wines, called Which Wine? He wrote oriented articles which included technical and general information. He has judged on various panels, including the Methode Cap Classique Challenge, Wellington Quest for the Best and the Breedekloof Young Wine Show. He is currently making wine for himself and 3 business partners.

Sandile studied a BSc Viticulture and Oenology degree at Stellenbosch University, after which he worked on harvesting grapes, a crucial part on winemaking, in Bordeaux - the famous wine-growing region in south- western France - at Château Siran. He had a year-long internship at Groot Constantia as a student winemaker, and worked as assistant winemaker and acting viticulturist at Elsenburg Agricultural Institute for two years. Sandile is currently making wine for himself, along with three business partners. He was previously employed as a journalist for Wineland Magazine, and has been an associate judge for several wine competitions, including the Amorim MCC Challenge Awards, Wellington Quest for the Best, Breedekloof Young Wine Show and Which Wine.

Dave Hughes

Kris Snyman

Kris has a Cape Wine Academy Diploma. He was a Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Western Cape Junior Sommelier winner and completed the Michael Fridjhon Wine Evaluation Experience, as well as the Jordan Winery Harvest Internship. He has worked in hotels, restaurants and cellars for 15 years. These included the top 10 Overture restaurant at Hidden Valley in Stellenbosch as assistant manager and sommelier. Kris then managed the tasting room at Delaire Graff before joining a Naspers company called 5 Ounces, a lifestyle retailer specialising in wine. Three years ago he joined Cybercellar as an executive to manage merchandise, selections and promotions. This gave him access to the largest range of wines available from any retailer in Africa, allowing him to evaluate hundreds of wines monthly as well as attend panels and selection committees. He has also tasted for Vitis Vinefera, Wineland Magazine and Nederburg Auction pre-selection. Kris now is with DGB in a corporate position.

David Biggs

David Biggs

Wine writer, author of 14 wine and cocktail related books,has been a judge for every annual Veritas Awards Competition since its inception. A qualified wine judge, he also serves on the panel of the annual Muscadel Competition and is a founder member of the Wine of the Month Club tasting panel. He has written more than a dozen wine and drinks related books, several of which have been translated in other languages, including Chinese, Italian, Japanese and Swedish. He was presented with a scroll of honour by the Cape Wine and Spirit Education Trust in 2001 for "An exceptional contribution to Wine and Spirit Education." In 2011 David was named a "Living Legend" in the wine industry and presented with a scroll of honour signed by Helen Zille, then executive mayor of Cape Town. He enjoys cooking, painting and playing the piano accordion, all of which he does rather badly.

Guy Webeer

Karin Glanfield

Karen has been happily working in the wine industry since she moved to Cape Town in 2004 opening her own wine business ten years ago. She divides her time between Wine Specialist Tour Guide, writer, event co-ordinator and educator, hosting UnWined Wine Appreciation Courses. She completed her Diploma 1 and 2 though Cape Wine Academy and passed the Stellenbosch Judging Course run by Charl Theron, as well as the Wine Tasting Academy run by Michael Fridjhon. She has sat on various judging panels over the past eight years. Karen believes wine should be sipped, savoured and shared!

Karen Glanfield

Jeff Grier

After graduating from Stellenbosch University in 1979, Jeff managed to gain international experience in Europe before returning to South Africa in 1981. In 1983, the Grier family purchased Villiera Wines and Jeff took over the wine making function in 1984. A 10 year royalty agreement with Jean Louis Denois from Champagne ensured regular contact with Europe. Although the focus was on Méthode Cap Classique in the early years, Jeff recognized the potential for Villiera to excel in other styles. Each trip to Champagne involved visits to other regions in Europe and the desire for knowledge took him to the New World as well. In 1987 Jeff received his Cape Wine Masters Diploma. He was now sufficiently qualified and experienced enough to tackle a relatively large range of wines on his family Estate. Numerous personal achievements for Jeff Grier: John Platters Wine Man of the Year; Diners Club Wine Maker of the Year; Winner of WINE magazine’s Chenin Blanc Challenge; Winner of the Paarl Vintners Challenge (best Cape Blend); Paarl Region’s Wine Personality of the Year; Wine of Month Club winemaker of the year; in 2011 third 5 star rating in John Platter’s guide for Cap Classique; Best Sparkling Wine (Monro Brut 2007) in the 5 Nations Challenge; Best Wine at 5 Nations Challenge (Southern Hemisphere).

Jolette Steyn

Jolette is a winemaker by trade but after ten years of focusing on the vineyards and the cellar, she decided to conquer the fine wine sales side as well. She started with Wine Cellar in January 2018 as the business development manager focusing on their international portfolio for private clients in both Cape Town and Johannesburg. She also started her own wine project on the side, with the 2018 vintage being her first solo flight.

Jolette holds a BSc and MSc in Oenology & Viticulture, having completed her studies in South Africa (Stellenbosch) and Europe (Angers in France, Valencia & Priorat in Spain; and Piacenza in Italy). She has thirteen harvests under her belt, speaks four languages and was the winemaker at Steenberg Vineyards in Constantia for about 3 and a half years before joining the Wine Cellar team in 2018.

Outside the day job, Jolette has added a distinction WSET Level 3 and passed the celebrated Michael Fridjhon Wine Judging Academy. She hopes to become a UK Master of Wine within the next decade. She represented Team SA in the World Blind Tasting Championships in 2017, after scoring the highest provincial score of the year at SAWTC 2017. Last year she judged at the Ultra Value Wine Challenge as well as the Worcester/Breedekloof Winemaker of the Year awards.

Jolette’s philosophy centres on a profound respect for the traditions of the viticultural community whilst simultaneously focusing on creativity and innovation within the wine and vine spectrum. She believes that one should both drink lekker local and foreign wines to add complexity and depth to the whole tasting experience. Make wine, not war.

Elize Coetzee

She completed her BSc degree at the University of Stellenbosch and in 2001 started working as assistant winemaker at Flagstone Wine Cellar. She then was assistant winemaker at Distell for Zonnebloem wines and later was promoted as winemaker at Distell and in 2015 as the cellar master. Her experience in the world of winemaking includes St Julien in Bordeaux, Sonoma in California and Moselle in Germany. She also serves as a judge on the Wine and Spirits’ Board panels. Some of the Distell brands which include her responsibilities are Chateau Libertas, Two Oceans, Graca, Overmeer, Zonnebloem and the Cellar Cask range.