Eben Sadie tops poll to be voted number one in South African winemaking industry

Drinks: Drinks, Wines
Location: South Africa

Winemaker Eben Sadie has further cemented his place at the pinnacle of South Africa’s wine world, with Sadie Family Wines coming out top in the latest survey of wineries by Winemag.co.za.

It caps a good six weeks for Sadie who’s T’Voetpad 2017 was awarded White Wine of the Year in Tim Atkin’s South African report in September. Three of his wines are also reckoned to have picked up five-stars in the recently-launched 2019 Platter Guide, following on from four in 2018.

Winemag.co.za’s top 20 list is put together by polling the opinions of professionals from across the country’s wine industry as to who are the country’s top names. And while the magazine calls the exercise ‘futile but fun’, it’s still instructive to see which names are making an impression – and which have been left out.

Coming in second and third were Kanonkop and Alheit Vineyards, respectively. Understandably, the results didn’t please everyone, with one critic on the magazine’s website calling the process ‘counterproductive’. Others felt it was invidious to compare, say, wineries that specialise in Chenin with others that grow mostly Sauvignon Blanc.

And while few would argue with Sadie’s place at the top of the tree, traditionalists might be surprised that there’s no room for the likes of Jordan, Hamilton Russell, Bouchard Finlayson, Meerlust Estate or Rust en Vrede.

Others might also question whether, with serious issues surrounding the overall health of the Cape’s wine industry, energy might be better spent elsewhere than on hypothetical classification systems.

But Jo Wehring at Wines of South Africa was tactful in her appraisal of the exercise.

‘As WineMag itself acknowledges, the Top 20 list (while a who’s who of some of our best wineries) is not definitive and you could argue for many other well-deserved producers to be included, though it’s an interesting exercise,’ she said. ‘One thing we can be sure of is that at the moment in South Africa we’re spoilt for choice.’

Click here to see how South Africa’s wines got on in this year’s Sommelier Wine Awards.

Read about Stellenbosch’s bold new initiative to train vineyard workers here.

About Author

Chris Losh

After five years working on My Weekly magazine (during which time he learned how to write horoscopes and make things out of mince) in 1995 Chris Losh entered the world of drinks writing and, despite all advice from his doctor – and the wishes of most South African winemakers – has stayed there ever since. He began on Wine and Spirit International, editing it for several years before moving on to edit Wine Magazine. Both publications have since gone the way of the Dodo, but he claims to have nothing to do with their demise, and his alibi appears solid, since he was freelance writing for anyone who would pay him at the time. In 2007, he helped to set up both Imbibe magazine and the Sommelier Wine Awards, and has spent much of the last three years eating, drinking, and listening to French sommeliers talk about minerality. In 2009 he was shortlisted for the Louis Roederer Feature Writer of the Year, but didn’t win. Perhaps he should have stuck to horoscopes. And mince.

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