Burgeoning young wine writer Raphaela van Embden from Cape Town has clinched the coveted Veritas Young Wine Writer title for 2019.
Van Embden, with dual South African and Austrian citizenship, has several wine courses and work stints in wine-related fields behind her, including cellar work during a harvest at di Lusso Wine Estate in Mudgee, Australia. She is currently a management consultant at Collectivantage as well as Wine Commerce researcher at the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business.
Entrants were required to share their insights on the growing importance of virtual labels and wine e-commerce through the latest technology, while looking into the impact of various virtual labels. At the same time, they had to submit a more informal blog entry, dealing with the rise of rosé wine and the trend towards more pale and dry styles.
Under the clever title (A)Recommended Reality, Ms Van Embden wrote that the 8 000 year-old wine word is all about “real estate”, of origin and terroir right through to shelf space, where Augmented Reality (AR) wine labels are now “instantly crossing the constraints of space, one downloaded app and scanned label away”.
“Whether or not AR will tremendously boost wine e-commerce trade, there is no doubt that we are moving towards a digitalised future that will truly eliminate geographical boundaries, and the wine industry is no exception,” she concluded.
With regard to the advent of new rosé styles, this winning young wine writer blogged under the heading A cachet for rosé, that since the advent of Instagram in 2012, “trendy, shutter-happy millennials pulled rosé from its dusty, forgotten corner into the photogenic limelight” and that it has since then “become a lifestyle brand where prestigious clean, crisp, sophisticated and photogenic rose’s will be at home with the most serious of wine critics and in the clutched fists of hashtag-wielding millennials alike.”
She hereby won herself R15 000 in prize-money, while runner-up Alisa Knoblauch – a Stellenbosch-based digital marketing consultant and administration officer for the wine export company Tamasa Wines – collected R7 500.
The judging panel for this seventh annual round of the competition, comprised seasoned South African wine journalists Wanda Augustyn, David Biggs, Cassie du Plessis, Dave Hughes, Danie Keet and Neil Pendock. They were unanimous in their praise for the overall winner Raphaela van Embden’s “crisp, entertaining reading, with an easy flow of ideas on modern trends and complexities without pretentiousness”.
They described this year’s general standard of writing as outstanding, with a variety of different ideas offered and thought-provoking glances into the future. The blogs were well researched while pointing out the challenges, as well as the benefits of new technology. In their opinion it is great to see that young and upcoming wine writers are developing a new style which is in line with the millennials’ experiences of the world we live in and that they are making these characteristics applicable to the wine industry. This should help to entice a new generation of educated wine consumers to support the South African wine industry.
Wanda Augustyn, the editor of this competition’s media partner, WineLand Media, said she was excited about finding new wine writing talent and that they would publish the winning article and blog exclusively on the WineLand Media platforms. The winner will also be commissioned to write articles for WineLand Media in 2020.
The announcement was made at the prize-giving presented by the South African National Wine Show Association (SANWSA) – custodians of this competition and presenters of the SA Young Wine Show, Veritas Awards and SA Terroir Awards – at the Lanzerac Hotel in Stellenbosch on Tuesday, 10 December.
SANWSA chairperson Christo Pienaar said at the event that he was thrilled by the enthusiastic response from young aspirant wine writers for the competition. “The standard of the entries is more impressive each year. This bodes well for the industry as we encourage young wine writers to spread the positive message of South African wine.”