At a black-tie gala dinner at La Residence Hotel in Franschhoek this past Saturday (24th November), the winners of this year’s Diners Club Winemaker and Young Winemaker of the Year were announced. Winning the Winemaker of the Year Award was Clayton Reabow of Môreson, Franschhoek, and winning the Young Winemaker of the Year Award was Rudger van Wyk from Stark-Condé Wines in Jonkershoek Valley, Stellenbosch.
The awards are open to all in the South African wine industry at no cost, and focus on quality and recognition of excellence. They are presented to the winemakers who produce a wine that the judging panel considers the best in a specified class. The categories for 2018 were Chardonnay single varietal wines for Winemaker of the Year, and Red Wines of any varietal or blend for Young Winemaker of the Year.
This year’s Diners Club Winemaker of the Year (Chardonnay category), Clayton Reabow, delighted the judges with his Môreson 2017 Mercator Chardonnay. Clayton was a finalist in the 2017 Winemaker awards (Pinotage category) and the winner of the 2009 Young Winemaker of the Year award. The 2018 Diners Club Young Winemaker of the Year, Rudger van Wyk, received his award (Red Wines category) for the Stark-Condé 2016 Stellenbosch Syrah.
The winning Winemaker receives R50 000 while the Young Winemaker, R25 000. Both winemakers get two return air tickets on Delta Airlines to any wine producing region in the USA.
The judges for the 2018 awards were Michael O’Connell (international judge), Carrie Adams, Debi van Flymen, Michael Crossley, Nomonde Kubheka, and Ntsiki Biyela.
More on Winemaker Winner: Clayton Reabow
Clayton grew up in King William’s Town in the Eastern Cape. He completed a BSc Agriculture: Viticulture and Oenology degree at the University of Stellenbosch in 2004. In between working some local vintages, he travelled to other wine producing areas such as Bordeaux in France and the Mosel Valley in Germany to broaden his horizons. On returning to South Africa, he applied for the winemaking position at Môreson in 2007 and has never looked back. In 2011 Clayton completed a Postgraduate Master’s degree in Wine Business Management, Cum Laude, at the UCT Graduate School of Business.
More on Young Winemaker Winner: Rudger van Wyk
Rudger was born in George in the Southern Cape. He studied at the University of Stellenbosch where he completed a BSc Agriculture: Viticulture and Oenology degree. As a Cape Winemakers Guild Protégé, Rudger worked at several high-profile local wine estates, followed by a harvest in Burgundy before joining Stark-Condé Wines as assistant winemaker in 2016. Earlier this year Stark-Condé Wines were pleased to announce Rudger’s appointment to the position of winemaker.