CWA marks 40th with graduates

A new Cape Wine Master has graduated and joined the ranks of the Institute of Cape Wine Masters in the year the Cape Wine Academy (CWA) celebrates the 40th anniversary of its educational service to the wine industry.

By joining, Jacqui Henderson of Iona Wines brings the number of Cape Wine Masters (CWMs), an elite group that underscores winemaking as an academic discipline, to 102.

According to chairperson of the Institute Conrad Louw, since the inception of the CWA in 1979 nearly 200 000 wine enthusiasts have attended its lectures and training programmes, which were instituted as part of the Stellenbosch Farmers’ Winery (SFW) Wine Plan.

Henderson was awarded her certificate by Harry Melck, recently appointed head of the CWA, at a function held at Neethlingshof Wine Estate on Friday 10 May. (Melck, incidentally, was the only CWA graduate last year.)

Fellow Cape Wine Master Jeff Grier of Villiera presented her with the traditional sabre trophy and award for outstanding achievement in the MCC wine tasting exam.

Henderson’s dissertation was entitled A case for chardonnay as a regional signature variety for Elgin’s cool climate. It is available in full on the websites of the CWA,, and the Institute of Cape Wine Masters,

It explores chardonnay as a regional signature variety for Elgin’s cool climate, using data from eight weather stations situated in Elgin, an online research platform and interviews with producers. Findings show marked temperature variations within Elgin and ideal chardonnay conditions. The division of Elgin into wards is proposed.

Chardonnay producers describe a distinctive flavour and acid structure profile. Traditionally planted to apples and pears, branding chardonnay as a signature grape variety would add value to the area as a wine producing region. The creation of a strong regional identity could provide significant impetus in establishing Elgin as a fine wine region that produces world-class chardonnay and promotes greater profitability for winemakers.

Currently the prestigious group of Cape Wine Masters includes 13 from overseas and two of the three original Cape Wine Masters – Duimpie Bayly and Bennie Howard who, together with the late Tony Mossop, were the first to qualify in 1984. Of the total active membership of the Institute, Western Cape members comprise 62%, Gauteng 21%, with overseas members making up 17%. The total membership profile of the CWM is 54% male and 46% female.

In 2003, the Cape Wine and Spirit Education Trust granted the Cape Wine Academy the right to award the Cape Wine Master (CWM) qualification and confer the Cape Wine Master’s title, in collaboration with the Institute of Cape Wine Masters.

This year the ICWM also designated internationally acclaimed wine judge and WM Cathy van Zyl as the Wine Personality of the Year at a gala dinner held at the Longridge Wine Estate the following day, Saturday the 11th.

She was the third South African designated as a Master of Wine by the Institute of Masters of Wine in London in 2005.

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