This year marks the 21st anniversary of Wine Enthusiast’s Annual Wine Star Awards, honouring the individuals and companies that make outstanding contributions to the wine and alcohol beverage world. Three South Africans have made the nominations list. They are:
New World Winery of the Year: Radford Dale
Ben Radford and Alex Dale founded Radford Dale in 1998 in South Africa devoted to minimal intervention winemaking and progressive policies for its employees and the environment. While making highly rated Chenin Blanc, Pinot Noir, Pinotage and other wines from numerous regions, Radford Dale sets targets in four critical non-business areas: the environment, ethics, social justice and Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment. One of its efforts was to set up a trust for previously disadvantaged employees, called Land of Hope, which is an optimistic, positive instrument to facilitate a brighter future for the dependents of individual team members.
Viticulturist of the Year: Rosa Kruger
Industry icon Rosa Kruger has played an integral role in some of South Africa’s top wines, and championed the cataloging, preservation and discussion surrounding old vines and old-vine appreciation worldwide. After more than a decade of research, in 2016, she formally launched the Old Vine Project (OVP) to designate and champion old-vine vineyards and producers who protect them. It has since become a globally recognized name, with an official Certified Heritage Vineyard seal that the 80 vineyard members can use on their bottlings. She is formally a vineyard manager for six estates, though she works with countless other winemakers. Through OVP, she works with pruning equipment manufacturer Felco to provide training and education programs to vineyard workers.
Winemaker of the Year: Ntsiki Biyela
Ntsiki Biyela studied winemaking at the University of Stellenbosch before she began her career at Stellekaya Winery as junior winemaker, and then moved into the head winemaker role. Recognized as South Africa’s first Black female winemaker, Biyela founded her own wine company, Aslina Wines, in 2017. She uses her position to inspire winemakers of tomorrow as a board member of the Pinotage Youth Development Academy, a technical training and personal development organization for young people in the Cape Winelands that prepares them for wine industry careers.