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

Chris Losh

Chris Losh

12 November 2018

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.

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